The Best Sunglasses for Every Trip

The Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer is our top pick for its classic style.

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Courtesy of Amazon/Lacoste/Nordstrom/Sunglass Hut

Whether it's a beach vacation, a trip to the alps, or a city getaway, the right sunglasses will help ensure you're able to take in the sights without worrying about the sun getting into your eyes or harming your vision.

Although sunglasses are a largely personal choice that depends on one's style and taste, there are certain universal aspects to consider when shopping for the best options. We spoke to a handful of experts to get their insights on what frames and brands to look for — and how to successfully shop for sunglasses online.

We love the Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer for its classic design that's also universally flattering. For more options to suit your style and trip, we've rounded up the best sunglasses for traveling.

T+L Top Picks

Best Overall: Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer

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Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: The original wayfarer frame offers ample protection without sacrificing timeless style.

What to Consider: The plastic frame does not bend or adjust for wider faces.

The Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer will always reign supreme when it comes to high quality and classic sunglasses in our books. The timeless style was first released in 1952 and has since developed a cult following among everyone from artists and musicians to anyone looking for a high quality pair of sunglasses that'll last for years without breaking the bank.

The polarized lenses reduces glare and eye-strain — which is great for long days of sightseeing or lapping up the sun's rays on the beach — while the scratch-resistant coating allows travelers to throw their sunnies straight into their beach bag or jacket pocket without stressing too much about damaging the integrity of the shades. That said, this pair does come with a compact leather-like sunglasses case that will provide extra protection without adding bulk.

Lens size: 54 millimeters | Bridge size: 18 millimeters | Temple size: 150 millimeters | Polarized: Yes | UV protection: Yes

Best Overall, Runner Up: Maui Jim Westside PolarizedPlus2 Square Sunglasses

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Courtesy of Nordstrom

Why We Love It: The ultra-lightweight frame and thin lenses are comfortable enough to wear all day.

What to Consider: The snug fit might be uncomfortable for those with a wider face frame.

Designed in Hawaii as a solution to the sun's harmful rays, Maui Jim sunglasses feature 100 percent protection from UVA and UVB rays — which makes them an excellent companion to bring along for sun vacations and summertime city getaways.

The Maui Jim Westside PolarizedPlus2 Square Sunglasses in particular offer an ultra-lightweight design that feels comfortable enough on the bridge of the nose to wear for hours on end, while the thin polarized lenses help to prevent glare without sacrificing clarity.

Lens size: 54 millimeters | Bridge size: 18 millimeters | Temple size: 145 millimeters | Polarized: Yes | UV protection: Yes

Best Splurge: Celine Gradient Round Sunglasses

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Courtesy of Nordstrom

Why We Love It: This timeless style offers 100 percent UV protection that's both chic and highly durable.

What to Consider: The bridge width runs larger than the average sunglasses and might feel loose on smaller faces.

Celine sunglasses are one of our favorite higher end options on the market right now. The understated design offers a subdued elegance and timeless quality while the rounded shape suits almost every face shape and personal style. The gradient lenses are not polarized — but they do offer 100 percent UV protection which makes them ideal for city adventures or relaxing in the sand.

The classic frames were designed and crafted in Italy and include a high quality magnetic closure sunglasses case and microfiber cleaning cloth that will help ensure the sunglasses are properly protected and maintained — even when on the go.

Lens size: 55 millimeters | Bridge size: 19 millimeters | Temple size: 145 millimeters | Polarized: No | UV protection: Yes

Best Smart Glasses: Ray-Ban Stories

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Courtesy of Sunglass Hut

Why We Love It: These offer comfort UV protection in style and they capture travel memories hands-free.

What to Consider: The recording technology requires an active Facebook account in order to function properly.

There have been more and more variations on smart sunglasses hitting the market over the past decade or so — but the Ray-Ban Stories are our absolute favorite rendition so far. Unlike other smart glasses that tend to be a little on the goofy side in terms of looks, the Ray-Ban Stories look and feel exactly like a regular pair of classic Ray-Ban Wayfarers.

The smart sunglasses win major points for its high quality video and audio recording that allow travelers to capture memories without having to fumble around with their smartphone or camera while trying to be in the moment. The photos and video clips can also be uploaded directly to Instagram or Facebook or simply saved onto your smartphone camera roll to watch and edit at a later time.

Lens size: 48 millimeters | Bridge size: 18 millimeters | Temple size: 150 millimeters | Polarized: No | UV protection: Yes

Best for Narrow Faces: Ralph Lauren RA4004 Pilot Sunglasses

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Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: The bridge and temple is designed for women with narrow faces without sacrificing UV coverage and proper eye protection.

What to Consider: The lenses are on the lighter side and might not offer enough shade for sensitive eyes.

Shopping for a comfortable pair of sunglasses when you have a smaller face or head size can be an extremely frustrating experience — especially if you want something that offers the same amount of eye coverage as a larger pair of sunglasses. That's exactly where the Ralph Lauren RA4004 Pilot Sunglasses come in. This stylish pair of aviators looks and feels like a regular pair of sunglasses but was actually designed to fit narrow faces. The 130-millimeter temple size means these frames will properly hug your face without falling off while the 59 millimeter lens size is on par with other mainstream sunglasses brands and models.

Lens size: 59 millimeters | Bridge size: 13 millimeters | Temple size: 130 millimeters | Polarized: No | UV protection: Yes

Best for Wide Faces: Smith Lowdown XL Rectangle Sunglasses

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Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Smith

Why We Love It: The extra-large and polarized frames ensure proper glare and UV protection for all face sizes.

What to Consider: The lightweight plastic design might feel cheap to those looking for a more durable-feeling style.

Looking for a pair of stylish shades that'll fit a wider face size without sacrificing aesthetic and safety features? The Smith Lowdown XL Rectangle Sunglasses were designed to compliment larger faces thanks to the flexible arms and oversized lens size. The sunglasses also come with further comfort-driven features that'll make wearing them a pleasure, including no-slip megol nose pads, anti-reflective lens coating, and even ChromaPop contrast enhancing lenses designed to boost natural color and detail.

Lens size: 60 millimeters | Bridge size: 16 millimeters | Temple size: 145 millimeters | Polarized: Yes | UV protection: Yes

Best Aviator: Persol El Profesor Sergio

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Courtesy of Sunglass Hut

Why We Love It: The reimagined aviator design is highly durable and built to last while offering unmatched Spanish-inspired style.

What to Consider: The frames are quite thick compared to wire frame aviators and might be distracting to some travelers.

Inspired by Sergio Marquina, better known as the Professor in the Netflix series Money Heist, this reimagined pair of aviator sunglasses ranks high on our list for its unique spin on the classic pilot design. The detailed bridge design and slightly thicker plastic frame makes these aviators stand out from the pack. The oval lens shape is universally flattering and will best compliment oval, square, round, and heart-shaped faces. The lenses are also made using a crystal-tempered material that will not only provide distortion-free protection but also ensures your sunnies won't get scratched or damaged while on the move.

Lens size: 55 millimeters | Bridge size: 20 millimeters | Temple size: 145 millimeters | Polarized: Yes | UV protection: Yes

Best Ray-Ban: Ray-Ban Round Flat Lens Sunglasses

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Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: Timeless design meets high quality protection with this classic 1960s-inspired pair of sunglasses.

What to Consider: The lightweight wire frame feels very fragile and shouldn't be stored without a proper sunglass case.

The Ray-Ban Round Flat Lens Sunglasses are our absolute favorite wire frame glasses on the list. The classic 1960s-inspired frames were a favorite of music legends across generations — including John Lennon and Beyonce, to name a few — and for good reason. The timeless sunglasses compliment just about any face shape and the delicate wire frame makes them ultra-lightweight and comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

The high quality crystal glass lenses offer ample UV protection and also provide greater color contrast in low light settings so you won't have to worry about putting your sunglasses on and taking them off every time the sun goes behind the clouds.

Lens size: 46.9 millimeters | Bridge size: 21 millimeters | Temple size: 145 millimeters | Polarized: No | UV protection: Yes

Best for Golfing: Oakley Radar Rectangular Sunglasses

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Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: These golf-ready sunglasses fit snug on the face to ensure they won't get in the way on the green.

What to Consider: The snug fit might feel irritating for those with a wider face or who prefer loose fitting sunglasses.

Those who golf on a regular basis know the importance of a decent pair of golf-specific sunglasses — and the Oakley Radars tick all the right boxes. Not only are these performance-built sunglasses crafted to fit snug on the face, they also feature extended lenses that increase the range of peripheral vision. This means that you'll never have to take off your sunglasses or shift your vision in order to get the perfect shot while on the green. The unique Prizm Lens technology is also designed for optimal performance by enhancing the contrast and crispness of your vision.

Lens size: 38 millimeters | Bridge size: 38 millimeters | Temple size: 128 millimeters | Polarized: No | UV protection: Yes

Best for Exercise: Nike Rabid Ev1109 Sunglasses

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Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: The lightweight and form-fitting design will stay firmly in place, even during high intensity and sweaty workouts.

What to Consider: These sunglasses run small in order to fit snug but might be too snug for some faces.

The Nike Rabid Ev1109 Sunglasses might not be the most stylish or trendy frames on the list — but they will certainly keep your eyes protected while working out in the sun. The snug-fitting black frames were crafted to stay on your face even throughout the most vigorous workouts thanks to the lightweight design and form-fitting shape. The nylon frame and lenses were designed to be put through the ringer and will last for decades with proper care and storage.

Lens size: 64 millimeters | Bridge size: 15 millimeters | Temple size: 135 millimeters | Polarized: No | UV protection: Yes

Best for Water: Lacoste Men's Floatable Color Block Sunglasses

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Courtesy of Lacoste

Why We Love It: These practical sunglasses were designed to float — so you'll never lose your shades in the ocean again.

What to Consider: The ultra-lightweight design might feel flimsy to those used to a heavier frame.

The Lacoste Men's Floatable Color Block Sunglasses are one of our favorite options for spending a day at the beach or hanging out by the pool. The waterproof design is one of the only sunglass models out there that was actually built to float on top of the water, ensuring you won't have to go diving for your shades if they're accidentally knocked or washed off your face. The floatable sunglasses run a bit smaller than the average wayfarer-style sunglasses but the ultra-lightweight design means you can wear them for hours without noticing they're even there.

Lens size: 57 millimeters | Bridge size: 15 millimeters | Temple size: 145 millimeters | Polarized: No | UV protection: Yes

Best for Snow: Dragon Ultra Sunglasses

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Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: These durable snow-ready sunglasses were designed to protect from glare and can last in cold temperatures.

What to Consider: The bridge size runs a bit smaller than the average performance-focuses sunglasses.

Whether you're heading into the mountains to hit the powder or you're simply planning a snowy winter holiday, it's important to pack a pair of sunglasses that were designed to protect the eyes from the glare of the snow. Thankfully, the Dragon Ultra Sunglasses were crafted by winter athletes for snow sport holidays in mind. These sunglasses were made in the US using a plant-based resin that can withstand sub-zero temperatures without becoming brittle or cracking. The lenses themselves are polarized and made to protect your eyes from the sun's rays and the glare that can mirror off of fresh sheets of snow and ice.

Lens size: 63 millimeters | Bridge size: 10 millimeters | Temple size: 140 millimeters | Polarized: Yes | UV protection: Yes

Best Folding Glasses: Persol Folding Sunglasses

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Courtesy of Sunglass Hut

Why We Love It: These high-end folding sunglasses can easily slip into your pocket while on the go.

What to Consider: The folding bridge mechanism might become loose over time.

The Persol Folding Sunglasses were designed for travelers who want to pack light. The classic pilot-shaped design offers the same elegance and timeless look as traditional Persol sunglasses but the addition of the folding mechanism means you can easily pop them into your breast pocket or handbag when stepping indoors. The subtle folding bridge looks totally inconspicuous when opened and on the face while the crystal lens material ensures full UV protection.

Lens size: 48.3 millimeters | Bridge size: 21 millimeters | Temple size: 140 millimeters | Polarized: No | UV protection: Yes

Tips for Buying Sunglasses

Look for specs that indicate UV protection

A good pair of sunglasses should offer 100 percent protection against both UVA and UVB rays. "The UV rays the sun emits can be dangerous to your eyes" says Dr. Sujata Paul, contact lens optician at Lenstore. "Protection can also be denoted by a tag or sticker stating '100 percent UV protection' or 'UV absorption up to 400 nm.'"

From gray to brown, lenses can come in different colors, and which one to choose will be entirely made up by your preference. "It's important to know that darker lenses don't equal better UV protection," explains Dr. Paul.

Choose polarized lenses for water or snow

Polarized sunglasses are designed to help reduce the glare the sunlight causes when it bounces off reflective surfaces such as water, snow, or roads, making them particularly helpful when skiing, boating or driving. However, it's important to note that polarized sunglasses do not inherently provide UV protection. Dr. Paul suggests checking the label of polarized sunglasses to make sure they still provide maximum UV protection if you're planning to visit a sunny destination.

Don't skip over the sizing specs

Sizing specs are key when it comes to ensuring your sunglasses fit properly on your face. The lens measurement covers the width of the lens while the bridge measurement details how much space the sunglasses leave between the lenses for tucking onto your nose. The temple measurement runs the span of the arm and will give you an idea of how the sunglasses will sit on your ears and nose.

"The more coverage you can get from your sunglasses, the less damage the sun rays can do to your eyes," addes Dr. Paul. "When looking for sunglasses, consider the size of the lens and opt for wrap-around or oversized glasses to limit the UV rays from entering the sides of the glasses."

Stick to your preferred style

Sunglasses are a staple fashion accessory that is worn to enhance your daily outfits and looks — so you should opt for something that'll suit your style while on vacation and back home as well. However, they also do a very important job of protecting your eyes from the sun. "While we all want a pair that matches our personal style, we also need to make sure that we are getting the right protection," says Dr. Paul.

​​Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean if sunglasses are polarized?

If sunglasses have polarized lenses, it means the polarized lenses filter out the reflected light and glare. "Polarization is a growing trend for sure," says Pasquale Matera, creator and co-founder of Native Eyewear and Voca Eyewear. "Polarization is a higher cost alternative and beneficial for activities such as driving, boating, fishing, horseback riding, beach-time, and travel-related activities."

How should I clean sunglasses?

"With any quality eyewear, you want to use the provided microfiber cleaning cloth or pouch, or invest in a microfiber cloth (they're not expensive)," explains Matera. "Some inferior quality sunglasses do not have hard-coat lenses, which would cause the lenses to scratch more easily if cleaned with anything other than the microfiber."

According to Dr. Jonah Berman, OD, FAAO, medical expert for LensDirect, a gentle rinse with mild dishwashing liquid (without creams or moisturizers) and water, followed by shaking the water off the glasses before softly dabbing (not rubbing) the lenses with a relatively lint-free (paper) towel will also help to remove most debris and smudges.

How can I tell if a pair of sunglasses will fit comfortably?

Like any other wearable, it is hard to tell whether a pair of sunglasses will fit perfectly on your frame unless you have experience with the brand as certain brands fit people better than others. You should strive for a comfortable fit, as it will induce you to wear them and wear them longer.

"Try to take measurements of a pair of your current glasses that fit you well, and compare them to those of the sunglasses you are considering," suggests Dr. Berman. "These include the horizontal dimension from right to left of the face of the frame (the "eye wire") as well as the length of the piece that connects the eye-wire to your ears (the "temple")."

Dr. Berman also suggests making sure that the lenses do a good job of covering the areas around your eyes, something your regular glasses may not do quite as much.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Travel + Leisure writers are shopping, fashion, and product experts who use personal experience and customer recommendations to choose the best items for shoppers. For this article, Kaitlyn McInnis interviewed optometrists and sunglasses designers to get their best tips and used her experience as a travel writer and sunglasses collector and enthusiast to curate the best options to suit most needs.

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