What To Wear on a Plane: 5 Tips for Long Flights
Air travel generally comes with some level of stress. There’s a lot to it that is completely out of your control. Unexpected delays, lost luggage, sitting next to a screaming baby—all of these factors and more make it something that most people just don’t necessarily look forward to. It’s a means to an end, something that you just want to make it through.
However, while you have no say in weather delays or the slow pace of security checkpoints, you can definitely prepare for the best-case travel scenario with the outfit you choose to wear on your journey. When it comes to long flights, there are smart and strategic clothing choices that assure you’re prepared for a comfortable and relaxed flight. Make use of these tips for both men and women and travel like a pro.
Airplanes can be stuffy and also cold, and you’re likely to experience both on the same flight. The hustle and bustle of being ushered down a narrow hallway and into a metal tube with hundreds of other people can make the cabin feel stuffy while you’re still on the ground and antsy to get going.
The temperature inevitably drops when you’re flying through the air at an altitude of 30,000 feet. Dressing in layers will prepare you for the temperature variations you’re subject to on your journey.
A short sleeve shirt is a good choice for your base layer, just in case you get to your seat and the plane feels stuffy. This is especially true if you get claustrophobic. You’re layering not to bundle up, but to prepare for the stark temperature variations that often come with air travel.
An essential t-shirt, polo, or henley is a good bet for travel because it will go with anything else you’re wearing and you’ll probably make use of it at your destination as well.
A good mid-layer should be something that will keep you warm without adding too much bulk that will get in the way of your outer layer. Pullovers are normally a great mid-layer option, but they’re not as easy to take off in the tight quarters of your assigned airplane seat.
Half Zip: A half-zip is a fantastic mid-layer alternative to a pullover that leaves room to show off a collar. Its design makes it easy to remove when the stuffiness of the airplane hits.
Full-Zip: If you’re traveling in a casual style, a full zip makes a mid-layer that’s quick to get on and off. If it happens to have a hood, you may be able to use it for a little extra privacy from your neighbor while you try and get some sleep.
Cardigan: A cardigan is another logical mid-layer for travel. It’ll keep you cozy as you settle into your long flight and can be removed and worn as a lap blanket if you so choose.
An outer layer is an effective way to bring along your jacket or coat without having to take up room in your suitcase. If you’re someone who has a tendency to get hot easily, you may not want three layers while traveling. In such a case, do away with the mid-layer as it will take up less room in your suitcase.
Blazers and long coats are good to wear while traveling because they’re particularly inconvenient to pack. If you’re bringing one on your trip, it’s best to plan your travel outfit to accommodate it.
If you’re traveling to or from cold weather, you’ll want to access a warm coat easily when you’re back on the ground. Travel with an insulated bomber jacket for style and weather proficiency.
Your outer layer can always be stored in the overhead compartment bin once you get to your seat.
The pants you wear for travel have a lot to say about how comfortable you’ll be on a long flight. You don’t want to wear something that will have you twitching and adjusting in your seat. Avoid stiff pants; pack your denim for when you get there. Choose pants that don’t require a belt; they will be more comfortable during the flight and easier for getting through airport security.
You don’t have to sacrifice your professional appearance to travel in comfort. The All Day Every Day Pant is the perfect travel companion for keeping both comfort and style ahead of the game. They’re both soft and stretchy, have an elastic waistband, and feature zipper pockets for your boarding pass and wireless earbuds. They also come in nine core color options to match the vibe of your destination, wherever you're headed. Make sure you keep an eye out for limited edition colors every few months.
For men and women alike, joggers make for a comfortable and neutral base for your travel outfit. Stretchy and form-fitting, joggers won’t bunch up or pinch your midsection as you sit for long hours. They don’t require a belt, and some joggers come with zipper pockets. Everything you want out of pants for travel.
Zippered pockets will give you a way to organize the belongings that you’ll be using most while having peace of mind that you won’t leave anything behind in the Uber that drops you off at the airport, the shuttle bus that takes you to your terminal, or the plane that brought you to your connecting flight.
Select a jacket with a zippered chest pocket, it’s the best place to put your travel documents for security and ease of access.
If you’re traveling with currency, especially when traveling internationally, a hidden zippered pocket will offer security and peace of mind.
Knowing the procedure for airport security checkpoints will help navigate through security and to your gate as quickly and smoothly as possible. It will also save you the hassle and embarrassment of holding up the line while you try to reassemble your entire outfit and stuff things back into your carry-on luggage.
You know that they’re going to make you take off your belt, so why wear one? If you do, you’ll end up trying to quickly thread it through your belt loops in the middle of the airport. Nobody really cares, but it’s impossible not to feel like everyone is watching.
Skip the inconvenience altogether by wearing pants with an elastic waistband or drawstring. Not only will it make security that much easier, but you’ll sit in your assigned seat comfortably without a belt buckle digging into your waist for hours.
Another part of the security procedure is taking off your shoes. Lace-up shoes require you to bend down and tie them in an inconvenient spot, or to wait for a bench to open up so that you can get situated. Choose shoes with this in mind.
Loafers are a great option. Comfortable flats work well for women. Sneakers that you can slip on quickly won’t let you down. Sandals and slides are easy to get on and off, but not the best for all the walking you’ll be doing. Especially if you have to hustle to your gate.
Something that comes with taking off your shoes is the fact that you’ll have to go through the checkpoint without them. That means you’re either in socks or you’ll be standing in bare feet on a surface walked on by millions of shoeless people.
Best to wear socks for the purpose of hygiene. Compression socks are also a good idea for travel to increase blood flow and avoid deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot in the lower leg caused by sitting in your cramped airline seat for hours at a time.
If you’re traveling with a laptop or tablet, you’ll have to take it out of your bag and send it along the conveyor belt in its own bin. Choosing a sleek carry-on bag with a designated laptop sleeve makes the process easy. Without the tech pocket, your laptop or tablet won’t be as safe and secure, and other items will surely get in the way from placing it back in your bag smoothly after you make it through security.
If there’s one category of clothing that’s perfect for travel, it’s athleisure. It’s designed with comfort and versatility in mind, making it ideal for long plane rides and striding through the airport in style.
This wasn’t always the go-to clothing choice for plane rides. When commercial air travel became popularized in the 1950s, it was a big deal to travel on a plane. And it wasn’t cheap. Through the 1970s, people would dress in fancy tailored clothing for their day of air travel. It’s nostalgic to think about, but let’s be glad we can enjoy the luxury comfort of athleisure.
It may not be as traditionally glamorous as mid-century travel attire, but athleisure is definitely more comfortable—and makes for a clean modern style that’s appropriate for contemporary air travel.
A successful day of traveling begins with thorough preparation and a positive mindset. Decide that you’re going to make it the best it can possibly be, and do what you can to make it happen. Start by checking that you have everything packed, and setting out your clothing the night before your long flight.
Make sure that you choose comfortable layers with zippered pockets, wear pants with an elastic or drawstring waistband, and shoes you can get on and off easily. Put something to read and a few snacks in your tech-ready carry-on bag, and you’re good to go.
Implement these five tips for selecting an outfit for long flights and you’ll be prepared for a day of comfortable travel.