Garmin Venu 2S 40.4mm Smartwatch with Heart Rate Monitor & Health Tracking - Light Sand

In the age of the smartphone, no one really needs to wear a watch anymore. But wearing one can be freeing—and stylish. Great travel watches exist for many different reasons. They let you leave your phone at the hotel, disconnect from your regular routine, and add a chic accessory to your travel outfit.

When you’re in a new place, the freedom that a smartwatch can offer you is unmatched. A smartwatch or fitness tracker can help you stay on top of how much activity you’re getting outside, while a traditional dress watch remains the perfect choice for wearing to dinner.

Smart travel watches for those on the go

Garmin Venu 2S 40.4mm Smartwatch with Heart Rate Monitor & Health Tracking - Light SandEvery traveller has different needs when it comes to their travel watches, so this post is split into a few different categories. Travel smartwatches are an excellent place to start because they’re so versatile. You can often wear the same one working out as you would to a smart-casual dinner.

You might find that different watches and accessories are better suited for different vacations. For instance, if you’re headed to an urban centre, a dressier smartwatch band might fit in better. However, if you’re headed to a rainy, tropical location, a smartwatch with water resistance might be more important.

An understated smartwatch with a plain watch band can be a great way to blend in with the locals when you’re headed somewhere new. One trait that makes tourists stand out is how often they look down at their phone for directions. By pushing map notifications to your smartwatch, you can arrive safely and on time without making it obvious that you’re new to the area.

My favourite smartwatches for travel are those with interchangeable watch bands and customizable watch faces, like those from Apple, Samsung, and Garmin. With just one watch face, customizable watches are much easier to pack. All you need to do is wear the same smartwatch that you wear in your daily life, and bring any extra watch bands that you might like to wear on your trip. There’s no need for a second watch case, an additional set of charging cables, or anything like that.

Fitness wearables for active travellers

Fitbit Luxe Fitness Tracker with 24/7 Heart Rate & Sleep - WhiteFor active travellers, the travel watch game shifts a little bit. While you can wear a generalized smartwatch while working out, some wearers prefer more in-depth reporting that a sport watch or fitness tracker can offer.

A fitness wearable is typically a more durable and comfortable option for those who’ll be sweating it out on vacation. They offer a smooth, silicone watch band rather than a rattling metal or leather bracelet, which minimizes chafing in hot climates and after intense workouts. Many models of fitness trackers are available at a lower price point than a comparable smartwatch as well, so if you tend to lose things on vacation (like I do), they can be a better option. If you’d like to enjoy the same styling benefits that a customizable smartwatch offers, look for models of fitness trackers with customizable watch bracelets.

Fitbit is a great place to start when it comes to wearable fitness trackers, with distinctive slim designs and interchangeable watch bands. (There are even cute, ruggedly-designed activity trackers for kids in the Fitbit line!)

What your fitness wearable can track for you

Garmin vivofit jr 3 Kids Activity Tracker - Black PantherIf you love logging steps taken (and more) while on vacation, some capabilities you might want to look for in a fitness tracker include steps taken, activity levels, calories burned, heart rate, stairs climbed, and sleep quality.

Activity trackers are awesome for taking on a really active vacation. They’ll help you track your amount of activity more accurately, so you can stay on-target. Perhaps most importantly, an activity tracker can also help prevent you from unknowingly pushing yourself too hard during the day. It’s easy to accidentally do too much while on vacation, when you want to take in as much as possible every day and each new route is new to you, but there’s always tomorrow—and an activity tracker can help you notice when you need a break! As an added bonus, I really like the GPS route-tracking option offered in many activity monitors. It can help you re-explore a path you’ve taken while abroad, even if you weren’t quite sure where you were.

One tip that I like to give with any kind of activity monitor, smartwatch, or smartphone is to set reminders for yourself if you tend to push too hard on vacation. You might be moving around an ideal amount, but are you eating regularly? Drinking enough water? Taking breaks in the shade? A wearable device can help you stay in touch with your body, so you can get the most out of each day of your holiday.

Traditional travel watches for your dream vacation

Citizen Quartz 27mm Women's Dress Watch - Gold/BlackNot all dream vacations involve climbing mountains or jumping in kayaks, and that’s okay. I know that I prefer a mix of both (leaning toward the “B&B in wine country” kind of holiday), which means that my ideal watch wardrobe for travel involves two separate travel watches: an activity monitor for the active portion, and a fashion watch for dinners and walks around town.

As someone who prefers to travel alone, I could not recommend it more highly. I love going on solo dinners, setting my own schedule, and having the freedom to wander toward anything that piques my interest. However, as a pretty small person travelling on my own, knowing my route and looking like a native sits at the top of my list of priorities. For safety reasons, I always want to look like I’m dressed to see a friend and know exactly where I’m going, even if my plans are nothing of the sort.

From city days to mountainous hikes, if your vacation is going to be a mixed bag, why shouldn’t your accessories be?

Shop these and other great travel watches online at Best Buy today. 

Rae Chen
Rae Chen covers everything from handbags to speakers here on the Best Buy Plug-in Blog. They can also be found at, where they've been writing about beauty & wellness since 2007.