What to Wear on a Long Flight for Ultimate Comfort

Let’s face it, long flights can be torture. You’re stuck in a metal tube with hundreds of other people for hours on end, and the only thing that can make it bearable is if you’re dressed comfortably.

This article will give you some great options for what to wear on a long flight.

You want to be comfortable but that doesn’t mean you have to look like a hot mess. With a little effort, you can feel comfortable during your trip and still look presentable even after hours of travel.

woman sitting on a plane wearing comfortable clothing and reading a magazine
When deciding what to wear on a long flight, look for comfortable and loose-fitting clothing.

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Outerwear

Light layers are key in the best outfits when it comes to what to wear on a long flight. I never know from trip to trip if I’m going to be hot or cold at the airport or on the plane, so bringing light layers is the best way to be prepared for either.

Plane travel outerwear tips

  • Go with light layers if you can. I wear both a light cardigan or wrap and a light jacket.
  • Make either the sweater/wrap or jacket something you wouldn’t mind balling up and using as a pillow if you don’t want to pack a pillow in your carry-on.
  • If you’re traveling to cold weather think about what you’ll need to be wearing when you arrive.
  • If you’re traveling carry-on only, wear or carry your heaviest outerwear with you so it doesn’t fill up your carry-on suitcase. You can always stow it or use it as a pillow on your long plane ride if it’s too warm to wear throughout your flight.

TIP: Keep track of your packing list with this editable travel packing list spreadsheet.

Prefer pencil and paper? Grab the printable blank packing lists.

Suggested cardigans and wraps


32 Degrees Women’s Soft Comfy Cardigan Wrap–if you prefer more of a cardigan wrap style sweater then you might like this one from 32 Degrees. I’ve loved everything I’ve bought from them, and it’s hard to beat the price.

32 Degrees Women’s Soft Comfy Cardigan Wrap| Cover Up | Quick Drying | Stretch Comfort | Soft Feel
  • FEATURES: Regular-Fit, 34″ Body Length (Size S), Side Pockets, Comfort Stretch, Breathable, Quick Dry, Imported
  • FABRIC: 96% Polyester, 4% Spandex – Lightweight soft knit with a lot of stretch. Brushed on one side offering a super comfy cozy hand feel.
  • WORK FROM HOME/OFFICE/FIREPLACE: The Soft Comfy Wrap is the perfect piece for lounging on the couch by the fireplace or at your desk working from home or in office. The lightweight material is quick drying and provides the right amount of stretch t feel comfortable all day.

Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Lite Circle Cardi–This one is more of an investment than the 32 degrees cardi wrap above as well as being bulkier. But if you’re looking for something warmer and more snuggly, give Barefoot Dreams a try.

Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Lite Circle Cardi
  • Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Lite Circle Cardi
  • Our feathery soft circle cardigan is all about effortless style.
  • Easy open front design with two inset pockets and a cozy ribbed shawl collar.

Suggested travel jackets

I rarely travel without rain gear, so all of these suggestions for jackets are also rain jackets.

Columbia Arcadia II–This is my “go-to” waterproof breathable packable rain jacket. It’s a staple. If you don’t have one in your travel wardrobe, you should consider getting one.

Columbia Women’s Arcadia Ii Jacket
  • Omni-tech waterproof/breathable fully seam sealed
  • Attached, adjustable storm hood
  • Zippered hand pockets

Helly Hansen Women’s Welsey II Trench Coat–Helly Hansen’s waterproof, breathable trench is also windproof, making it a great choice for traveling in disagreeable weather. It’s also a great length, covering more in the (ahem) rear than the Columbia jacket above. It’s also lined, and the hood packs into the collar.

Helly-Hansen Womens Welsey Ii Trench
  • An iconic trench coat updated with Scandinavian style and Helly Hansen Protection waterproof/breathable tech.
  • HELLY TECH PROTECTION: Fully waterproof, windproof and breathable fabrics and constructions. For all situations and weather conditions where…
  • FEATURES: Waterproof, windproof and breathable, Fully seam sealed, Durable Water Repellency (DWR) treatment, Lined for comfort, Back yoke ventilation…

Tops

My preference for a top on long flights is a basic cotton blend short-sleeved T-shirt. Think about going for a long-sleeved T-shirt if you always get cold or if you’re traveling with only a sweater/wrap or a jacket but not both like me.

Or if you’re always hot maybe try a tank top.

You don’t need to buy anything fancy. I have an old Banana Republic black T-shirt (less prone to showing sweaty armpit circles) that I wear almost every time I fly. I’ll probably have to retire it soon because it’s got a lot of miles under its belt.

Just a little garment and accessory humor for you there.

Where was I? Oh yes. You don’t need to buy the best travel clothes or fancy travel shirts, but if you’re looking for T-shirt recommendations here are a few good ones.

Banana Republic doesn’t make the exact T-shirt that I have anymore, but this shirt below is the same idea.

Eddie Bauer Women’s Favorite Short-Sleeve T-Shirt–Eddie Bauer makes great T-shirts. Fits well. Cotton blend. Soft.

Eddie Bauer Women’s Favorite Short-Sleeve V-Neck T-Shirt
  • 1×1 rib knit for better shape retention and stretch
  • Garment-washed to prevent shrinking
  • Length, Small: Reg 26 inches | Petite 25 inches | Tall 27 inches

Merino.tech merino wool T-shirt–Travelers love the way merino wool is moisture-wicking and odor-resistant. It’s one of those natural fabrics that’s perfect for a long day or night of air travel.

Merino.tech Merino Wool T Shirt
  • FREE MERINO WOOL HIKING SOCKS ($21 VALUE!) – Package includes Lightweight Merino Wool T Shirt Women 165 g/m² + Merino Wool Hiking Socks. MAKES A GREAT GIFT!
  • SUPER SOFT & COMFORTABLE – 100% Superfine 17.5 micron Merino wool undershirt for women provides all day comfort and no itch! Designed for daily wear without rubbing, overheating, or bunching of regular cotton.
  • MOISTURE WICKING & ODOR RESISTANT – Merino Wool Tshirts natural wicking and odor-resistant properties allow them to absorb moisture better than any other fabric, keeping you dry and fresh.

PRO TIP: If you have flexible travel dates you need to check out Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights). You get amazing flight deals sent straight to your inbox with instructions on how to book directly with the airlines. Check out Going here. Going is my favorite way to find great travel deals. 

Pants

And of course, no airplane travel outfit is complete without comfortable pants. I’m not a fan of wearing anything that resembles athletic wear like yoga pants or leggings to travel. I’d feel too much like I’m wearing my pajamas in public. And I don’t want to wear my pajamas in public.

I’d much rather wear a pair of comfortable jeans (with some good stretch in them) or comfortable capris.

My absolute favorite jeans are my Ann Taylor jeans. Partly because they are incredibly comfortable and partly because they look great. They are much softer and more comfortable to wear than they look.

But perhaps you really are looking for something a little more comfortable, perhaps with an elastic waistband. I love the affordable cotton twill joggers from 32 degrees.

I wasn’t crazy about how quickly my black ones started to look faded after normal use and washing, but they’re so comfortable it doesn’t bother me that much. And I love that they don’t look like sweatpants.


Socks

You’re going to want to wear socks for your flight. Unless you have TSA Pre-check, you’ll have to take your shoes off (more on that below) and you REALLY don’t want to walk through security in your bare feet, do you?

Ew.

Go for a dark color that won’t show dirt, you know, just in case the airport floor hasn’t been cleaned in a little while.

No-show or ankle socks

My preference is to wear no-show socks or ankle socks when I travel. Here are a few popular options. Bombas makes great ankle socks.


I also often wear Avia no-show socks just like these. You can find them in large packs of multiple pairs. I think they’re a great value.

Avia Woman’s No Show Athletic Performance Stretch Sport Liner Socks With Non-Slip Grip (6 Pack)
  • Heel Gripper – Silicone gel grip pads on the back of heels hold the socks in place
  • Moisture Control – Transport sweat away from the body allowing you to stay dry and cool all day long
  • Lightweight – Soft and light material for maximum comfort and cooling

Compression socks

If you’re prone to swelling while flying, compression socks can be a lifesaver. Literally. Prolonged periods of sitting can lead to poor blood circulation, particularly if the space is small and cramped.

If you have trouble with leg or foot pain or swelling after long flights, you might want to try a pair of compression socks the next time you travel. Find some here on Amazon.

Copper Compression Socks for Women & Men (6 pairs) – Best Support for Nurses, Running, Hiking, Recovery
  • UPGRADE YOUR COMPRESSION SOCKS DRAWER! – With all the tasks of work and family (and of life itself!) we may forget to pay…
  • POWER OF COPPER – Copper is an essential element vital for the normal functions.It have extraordinary power.Our copper…
  • UPGRADE MATERIAL-We carefully designed and manufactured our compression socks to provide premium support,moisture wicking…

Shoes

Comfortable shoes are a must. Leave the flip-flops and high heels in your luggage.

Go for slip-ons if you’ll have to take them off at security. Though there are exceptions, those who don’t have TSA Pre-check will need to take their shoes off when going through airport security.

I love to travel with my classic TOMS. I love how lightweight and comfortable they are and then I can machine wash them at the end of my trip. I can also tumble dry them (on low!) but I prefer to let them air dry if I have the time for that.

Women’s TOMS
  • Canvas upper
  • Elastic Gore for easy on and off
  • Slip-On

Classic slip-on Vans are also a great and cute option for travel footwear.

VANS Unisex Classic Slip-On Shoes
  • 100% Canvas
  • Imported
  • Rubber sole

If you’re traveling carry-on only, I recommend that you wear your heaviest, bulkiest shoes on your flight to save space and weight in your luggage.

Miscellaneous things you need for a comfortable flight

But wait…there’s more! More to consider wearing or bringing with you than just clothes, I mean.

Water

Being that plane air is very dry (studies suggest humidity between 10% and 20%) it’s important to drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated. It’s one of the best things you can do for your personal comfort on your long flight.

I bring a full bottle of water with me on every flight. A great way to reduce waste is to bring an empty, reusable bottle with you. Once through the security checkpoint, you can fill it up at any of the easily accessible water-filling stations.

Or you can bypass the hassle of carrying a water bottle through security by purchasing bottled water after you’ve cleared checkpoints. Then just refill it throughout your trip, including your flight home.

I’m a huge fan of traveling with an ultra-light, leakproof athletic water bottle; it makes hydration on the go quick and easy. Check out my favorite here on Amazon. 

And every time a flight attendant offers me a cup of water, I gladly accept and drink it immediately.

The Aerospace Medical Association recommends that air travelers drink 8 ounces of water per hour for hydration during a flight.

While it is not an essential requirement for short flights, on longer journeys (over 4 hours) hydration becomes considerably more important. So make sure to drink plenty of water during your flight.

Drinking more water will help you feel better overall and reduce the impacts of jet lag.

Plus, regularly taking restroom breaks is not only beneficial in preventing muscle stiffness and pain, but it can also reduce the risk of Traveler’s Thrombosis for individuals with a particular susceptibility.

Personal care

Here are a couple of my favorite personal care and beauty items I like to travel with.

Lip balm— frequent flyers know that plane cabin air is drying. I never travel without this healing lip balm. 

Hydrating face mask—if you are so inclined…you can pack an overnight hydrating mask to wear on a long flight. This one dries down nicely so that you don’t look like you’re wearing a face mask. It also comes in a convenient travel size.

Sleep mask 

If you struggle to sleep for long periods of time on flights, try a sleep mask (eye mask). Even when they turn the lights way down in the cabin on overnight flights there is still plenty of light…and you might be sharing a row with someone who keeps their overhead light on all night and doesn’t care if you’re trying to sleep. 

Neck pillow 

Not everyone likes them, but again, if a travel pillow helps feel more comfortable on your flight, go for it. This one is inflatable and packs small once deflated. Its size makes it ideal for your carry-on bag.

Final thoughts on what to wear on long flights

Dressing for a long flight doesn’t have to be difficult, and you don’t have to sacrifice style for comfort. By following the simple tips laid out in this article, you can travel in comfort (and comfortable clothes) and then arrive at your destination feeling fresh and looking put-together.

So next time you’re packing for a long flight, make sure to bring along light layers, comfortable pants, and all your travel essentials for long travel days. The good news is there is no right outfit or wrong outfit. The best clothes for travel are those that you like and feel comfortable in.

What’s the one thing you just can’t travel without to be comfortable on long-haul flights?

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