Whether it is a short getaway or a long-haul trip to Europe, knowing what to wear on a plane may be the difference between comfort and agony.
I asked members of the Australian Society of Travel Writers for comfortable clothing tips to help you crack the what to wear on a plane code. Travel writers frequently get off a plane after a 12-hour flight and must hit the ground running to a dinner or event so they need to be very smart about their travel clothes.
Here are some top tips.
Black with a pop
My travelling outfit varies a little according to three things – the length of the flight, the temperature at the destination and the program on arrival, but it is always black.
When travelling to a moderate or cool climate I wear leggings from UNIQLO a long sleeve, a loose-fitting top with a bamboo singlet underneath and my Arcopedico boots with compression socks. This is comfortable clothing with no belts or metal in my shoes, so I will get through airport metal detectors easily. I’ve got a nifty circular red scarf which keeps my neck warm and can stretch over my eyes if I want to sleep. I’m usually wearing my noise cancelling BOSE cordless headphones as well for a bit of relief from the hustle around me. I carry a black scarf which can double as a blanket or pillow on the flight (good in economy). I’m planning to upgrade this to cashmere which is lighter and warmer when funds allow.
For a warmer climate, it is much the same except I wear a loose-fitting long dress and ballet slip-on Arcopedico shoes, so I don’t expire from heat exhaustion on arrival.
Kerry Heaney, Eat drink and be Kerry
It’s all about the shoes
Comfortable shoes are a must when travelling, and I found my perfect fit with these cute flats from Chocolaticas, which I bought online. I can walk all day in them, and they come in lots of fun designs. I’ve got four pairs – black-and-white “spats” look, leopard print, pineapple design (a nod to my Queensland home) and these world maps. No matter which pair I’m wearing, I get lots of comments on them. Of course, they’re not so fabulous for winter. For cold climes, I wear a wonderfully comfy Arcopedico blue suede boots. My other must-take travel garment is a sarong!
Lee Mylne – A Glass Half Full
Lots of layers
The most important thing for me is comfort – definitely not fashion. So loose fitting and stretchy clothes that don’t get crumpled; and using layers so I can adapt easily to suit the climate, and on the plane. My go-to piece of clothing is a nice bright scarf, in my favourite shade of green. A soft scarf that is very wide, so it can be used to cover my shoulders as a wrap or keep my neck warm when cold. And to add some colour and style – taking the focus off my stretchy pants in business or first class!”
Melanie Grevis-James, Our Planet Travel
Dress it up
After too many years of wearing ‘restrictive’ jeans on long-haul flights, my stepping on a plane outfit is now a dress. I have this ‘go to’ dress – white linen – loose skirt with a shirred top. I throw a jacket over the top for when the plane air cools. I’ve also recently purchased a pair of compression socks to counteract the inevitable lack of moving around on long-haul flights. I check the weather for the destination and if it’s likely to be cold I make sure I have a scarf or pashmina packed in my carry on ready for the other end.
Jennifer Johnston, Travel Bug Within
Looking good but comfortable
Comfort is my main aim when it comes to dressing for a long-haul flight but looking professional is also important as I’m usually flying for work. It’s a tricky combination to get right. No matter where I am travelling to, my go-to outfit is always the same: comfortable yet smart black capri pants, flat shoes, and a softly draped blouse. I’ll pack a sweater in my carry-on if I’m heading somewhere chilly but as someone who doesn’t feel the cold, this rarely makes an appearance on the flight.
Dr Tiana Templeman, The Travel Temple
Slip-on shoes for a fast getaway
I usually wear black on a plane because I inevitably end up with some part of my meal down my front and black is more forgiving. My go-to is a pair of wide-legged pants that are comfortable and don’t crush too easily, with a t-shirt. Underneath, I wear a pregnancy singlet -they’re perfect for long-haul flights because they have loads of support without wires while still being super soft. Compression socks are another essential, as well as slip-on canvas shoes for making a fast getaway when needed. Then there’s my large soft cotton scarf for extra warmth on the plane and a multitude of uses at my destination.
Natascha Mirosch, Extra Virgin Podcast
Don’t forget a book
My go-to attire is a pair of comfy pants from the Foil brand with a loose-fitting longer shirt with sleeves. I always take a scarf and a jacket to cope with Antarctic onboard air conditioning. I also take a pair of hotel slippers as well as loose-fitting socks, so my feet don’t come into contact with any nasties on the loo floor. Should I be lucky enough to be in business class on a long-haul flight I always take any pyjamas that are offered and change into them asap to keep my other clothes. Do I wear my Qantas pj’s in economy? Never, as I don’t want to come across like a wanker. I also never fly without a hastily purchased book from the airport shop.
Helen Hayes, The Finer Things in Travel
A touch of style
Most of my travel is long-haul, so I need to carefully consider the comfort and convenience of the clothes I wear on an aircraft. I choose layers to keep me warm or shed if it’s too hot. Thick leggings, a skivvy and an overshirt are perfect for this. They also make it easy to manoeuvre through airport security.
There are no belts and my shoes can be taken off and put back on in an instant. I also still like to look good, so that I won’t get off the other end looking like I haven’t slept for 28 hours. I finish my outfit off with my favourite Charlie Brown denim jacket for that touch of style.
Kerri McConnel, Beer and Croissants
Wear your heaviest item
When travelling by plane, I wear the heaviest items I’ll need on the trip ahead. I may not look very fashionable; however, it has proved extremely practical.
If I intend doing any walking, I’ll wear my walking boots. If it’s going to be cold, I’ll wear my big insulated jacket – it can always double as some cushioning for my head or hips during the flight.
I always wear a scarf as planes get cold and this helps keep my neck nice and warm. I don’t wear any jewellery at all, except for one ring given to me by my children. It is too easy to lose an earring or place a piece somewhere ‘safe’ and jewellery attracts attention to you.
Danielle Lancaster, Blue Dog Photography
Things to remember for airline travel
- Comfort is essential as you will be wearing and sometimes sleeping in these clothes. A complicated trip back from parts of Europe or America can take up to two days, and that’s without factoring in delays. You may not be able to change your clothes or access your baggage for that time.
- Shoes must come off and back on again easily. Slip on or zipper types without any metal in them are best. You might want to take them off on the plane, but you will want to slip them on again before you head to the bathroom. Trust me on that!
- Compression socks are recommended for flights over four hours duration. I hate them but still wear them.
- It’s important to wear something warm even when you are heading to a hot climate. Planes get cold, very cold, but some airport lounges are even colder.
- Be organised so your flight essentials are easy to access. There is nothing more annoying than the person who holds up seating because they need to rearrange their bag contents.
- Of course, the journey starts at the airport. Here are my top transit tips for Brisbane Airport.
- When it comes to booking your flights, I have some more great tips for you.