By my count, I've stepped on an airplane 24 times so far this year. I've touched down in Istanbul, Milan, Paris, and Los Angeles; I've re-watched every recent release on the in-flight entertainment; and woken up with my neck achy and stiff after dozing off in a cramped economy seat. If there's anything I've learned from all of this travel, it's what not to wear on a plane — and how to plan an outfit strategically for maximum in-flight comfort. It may not seem inherently necessary to take so much precaution for a simple plane ride, but I've made it through enough to know this: What you wear can make a difference.
For most of us, the holidays are the time when air travel peaks. Whether it's because you're busy booking a trip somewhere tropical to get away from the snow, or you're finally fulfilling the familial obligations you haven't attended to yet this year, odds are you'll be packing up a suitcase and heading straight for JFK, PDX, or ATL. But, before you make your moves, I'm offering up a few recommendations for your in-flight attire. Rather than risk setting off airport security with clunky footwear, or suffer the ever-changing climates of a cabin once in flight, these travel outfit tips will help ensure you arrive at your destination comfortable, well-rested, and dressed your best.
My tips on what to wear and what to avoid are below, along with the shopping to make sure your travel ready. What happens when you land? Well that's a little harder to prepare for.
One too many times I've awoken from a mid-flight power nap to find myself either sweating profusely or curled in a ball, trying to preserve my heat at all costs. Since in-flight temps can be unpredictable, the first key is make sure you're dressed in layers that are easy to take on and off. Don't rely on a single jacket, make sure you have a sweater or sweatshirt and layerable tops to help ensure you won't have to try and rely on a flimsy airplane blanket.
Don't Overcomplicate Your Footwear
I once made the mistake of wearing Birkenstocks sans socks to the airport only to be thoroughly grossed out when the buckles set off the metal detectors and I had to stroll through TSA barefoot. Now, I always opt for easy sneakers and comfy socks. I can slide through security, and comfortably take my shoes off mid-flight without struggling to get them back on once I land. If you want something fancier, go for low-heeled boots, just make sure they won't be painful should your feet swell a bit in flight.
Skip The Mini Bag
Recently, on my travel back from Paris Fashion Week, I found myself falling victim to a new travel stressor: the airline weighed my carry-on suitcase and personal bag together, deeming them overweight, and ultimately charging me an extra $95 dollars. While my learnings would lead me to suggest not attempting to jam 8 pairs of shoes in your Away suitcase, I'd still stick to boarding the plane with a sizable tote bag. Inside I always carry lotion, an eye mask, neck pillow, Kind bar, an extra cozy layer, and my laptop and chargers. It's a fail-safe kit to make flying a breeze.
Plan Your Pants Accordingly
I've suffered through long-haul flights in a pair of too-tight jeans a few more times than I'd like to admit, but by now I've finally absorbed the lesson. Make sure your bottoms won't feel constricting two hours in to your trip. While baggy sweats may be too casual for some, there are plenty of wide-leg or stretch jeans and more polished knit bottoms you can opt for instead. If you'd prefer a dress or skirt, opt for something loose fitting that hits below the knee so you're not fussing with it as you adjust in your seat.
Don't Underestimate Accessories
As mentioned above, the beauty of lugging along a large tote is the fact that you can fit all of the necessary items inside. When it comes to travel, keeping track of the small details can make all the difference between a pleasant trip and one that you hate every minute of. I leave any bulky jewelry packed away; it only tends to annoy me when I'm try to settle down. In addition to any beauty necessities, pack a pair of good earphones (preferably once that cancel out noise), a hat or scarf, and a pair of plane socks to keep you extra comfy. I always make sure to bring sunglasses too, just to make sure I can stealthily make my way out of the airport post-plane nap without looking too overtly groggy.