Dress for a long-haul flight with confidence
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 the best 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. Here’s what to wear on a long-haul flight for ultimate comfort.
Don’t forget a single thing you want to take on your trip with these free printable packing lists.
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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. 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.
Suggested cardigans and wraps
Eddie Bauer Daisy Wrap–this wrap is 100% cotton and can be worn as a scarf, wrap or as more of a cape (with the armholes). It also includes a small zipper pocket giving it that little extra touch of something special for travelers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My preference for a top on long flights is a basic cotton blend short sleeve T-shirt. Think about going for a long sleeve 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.
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.
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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.
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?
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 when I travel. Here are a few popular options.
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.
If you’re prone to swelling while flying, compression socks can be a lifesaver.
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.
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.
Classic slip-on Vans are also a great and cute option for travel footwear.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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) 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? Let me know in the comments below!
More articles to help you with plane travel
- How to survive long flights even in economy
- Products to help you sleep on your flight
- What to bring on your flight in your carry-on
- How to pack for one week in just a carry-on
- How to pack your carry-on toiletries
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