A Passion for Travel, Part 8a: Eleventh In-Flight Insight



As we’ve been doing our final packing today, I realised I forgot an important consideration in making a long journey as comfortable as possible:  clothing.

I also forgot to include lip moisturiser, along with Vitamin E oil and hand lotion, to help counteract dry, recycled air.  My favourite is plain Chapstick.

Here are our recommendations for what to wear when you’re heading out to a long-haul flight.

What to Wear

Layers:  As with other aspects of travel, wearing layers is key.  On a long flight, temperatures can change from stuffy to chilly.  It helps greatly if you can easily adjust to your body’s own comfort level by quickly adding or removing layers.

Clive says he wears layers to lessen his luggage load.  This is another reason layers work well.

Loose and comfortable:  A long-haul flight is no time to be constrained by having squeezed into skin-tight jeans.  It’s crucial to be able breathe comfortably.  It’s also important to be able to get up and down multiple times without worrying or feeling awkward about adjusting clothes.

I usually wear jeans, a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt (I can roll up the sleeves if the plane gets too warm), a lightweight V-neck jumper (sweatshirt), and blazer-style jacket.  I also have a nylon jacket rolled up in my carry-on, but have never needed it on the plane.

Dark colours:  This is a strong recommendation of mine, for adults and children.  Dark clothing saves the day when grunge or spillage occur, and they do occur on journeys of 24 hours or more.

It’s not exactly that you’re trying to hide the dirt.  But if you think about all the places you’ll be sitting, snacking, and (maybe) sleeping, you can understand why clothes often look and feel seedy by the time you reach your destination.  And I’m not even talking about body odour.

No matter how careful we are, accidents do happen by way of spillage and stains, sometimes thanks to other people and sometimes through our own mishaps.  Just sitting on airport and airplane seats for hours on end can make light-coloured clothes look dirty.

I cringe when I see women in pink or yellow tracksuits that seem to be covered in grey film.  The pastel outfits may have been clean when they started out, but they quickly look like they’ve been lived in.

Dark clothes don’t show the dirt as much, and are easier to clean.  They are your friend on long airplane journeys.

Sports bra:  These don’t have any hooks in the back (or front).  When your back is pressed against an airline seat for more hours than you care to think about, it makes it significantly more comfortable if there are no hooks against your skin, only smooth fabric.  Or go braless, if that’s easier.

Jacket with Pockets:  My favourite travel jacket is a suit jacket from my corporate life.  It’s navy blue, has two side pockets with flaps, and an inside breast pocket with a little Velcro tab.

Flap pockets prevent small items (like Chapstick) from falling out, which is helpful when you’re getting up and down a lot.  The inside pocket is where I keep passport, boarding pass, and landing cards.

Clive has a lightweight black jacket with inside pockets that zip.  This is ideal.  Nothing falls out when he takes his jacket off and on or drapes it over his arm.

Shoes You Can Easily Slip On and Off:  This is important at Security and to a lesser extent on the plane.  I wear flat, loafer-style shoes I can easily step in and out of, when needed.

Many Security lines, especially in the U.S., require you to remove your shoes when going through.  It’s vastly easier if you don’t have to untie and tie your shoes every time.

I mentioned in my prior post that I leave my shoes on during the flight (and wish everyone else would too, at least those who have smelly feet and/or aren’t wearing socks).  But if I want to scratch an itch or massage my foot, it’s much easier with a slip-on shoe.  I think feet in slip-on shoes sweat less, too, but that’s just my theory.

Socks:  I advise wearing lightweight (and of course dark) socks.  They protect the skin and keep the feet clean from airline grunge, even on the most pristine airlines.

On a long flight, the floor of the plane gets gradually dirtier.  I don’t know how people can walk up and down the aisles in bare feet.  It’s now a law on most airlines that shoes must be worn into the lavatory.

I know many women like to wear sandals, but I’m happier packing mine.

For a long flight, shoes and socks work a treat.

Pashmina (optional):  several of my female business colleagues carried a pashmina, or silk shawl, in their carry-on bags.  A pashmina is handy if you want a light wrap or if you want to drape it over your face while sleeping.

It’s much nicer to have your own pashmina over your nose and mouth than an airline blanket filled with static electricity.  (If you use airline blankets, Vitamin E oil, skin lotion and Chapstick will be even more welcome.)

When my son wants to sleep on long flights, he often drapes his cotton sweater or sweatshirt over his head.  It makes me smile when I see him do it.  He says, “At least it’s my own air.”

Looking Good

I’m not advocating wearing huge, shapeless, baggy dark clothes on long-haul flights.

I am recommending a few criteria for choosing clothes that
(1) you like, (2) look good, and (3) ensure you feel good, too,
if you:

·        wear layers

·        choose clothes that are comfortable and not too tight

·        consider a sports bra without hooks (or go braless)

·        find a jacket with great pockets

·        wear slip-on shoes and lightweight socks

·        choose dark colours to hide a multitude of sins

·        take a pashmina for both warmth and an elegant way to cover part of your face, if you want to do that when resting or sleeping

My next post will be from the U.S.  I’ll cover our tips for managing jet lag on arrival.

Cheers and more to come.

Related posts (I will update my prior post, A Passion for Travel, Part 8:  Top Ten In-flight Insights, in due course)

  A Passion for Travel, Part 1:  Introducing the Series
  A Passion for Travel, Part 2:  The Master Trip Calendar
  A Passion for Travel, Part 3:  Travel Planning Checklist
  A Passion for Travel, Part 4:  Packing without Panic
  A Passion for Travel, Part 5:  Travel Technology
  A Passion for Travel, Part 6:  Departure Checklist
  A Passion for Travel, Part 7:  Airport Survival Strategies
  A Passion for Travel, Part 8:  Top Ten In-Flight Insights
  A Passion for Travel, Part 9:  Jet Lag Jambalaya

7 Responses

  1. That was great reading. Enjoy your flight and no doubt you will remember even more things to share.

  2. Great list, and i double-checked my carry-on for all the mentioned items. One thing that i have found as indispensable is Boroleum ointment, a mentholated gel that comes in a small tube and works wonders on chapped lips, scrapes, and i ALWAYS put just a dab in each nostril to combat dryness, as well as ward off thos bad germs. Ask at a pharmacy for it.
    happy travels!

  3. I have my ‘traveling pajamas’ outfit that I usually wear on transatlantic flights (at all but the height of summer). It’s a pants and top combo that I got from LL bean, soft cotton, and I’m sure looks horribly tacky. Layered with t-shirt underneath for when I get hot.

    And yes yes yes — hand cream, lip balm and, for me, eye drops. Also aspirin.

    I keep my essentials — wallet, passport, lip balm, hand cream, ticket, and EAR PLUGS — in a small nylon purse/bag that I wear all the time – sitting or standing, sleeping or eating. Makes me feel more secure.

    Can’t believe you took the time to publish ANOTHER thoughtful post before your departure. Just shows how well all your planning works — you get the gift of time in return!

    Bon voyage

  4. Hi Carolyn,
    My; I’m getting excited along with you !! We getting close to your departure .
    This is all very very wise advice. I can see many of my own habits in there too. Having loose fitting clothing & comfortable clothes, and clothes that are rather darker than lighter.

    You really should right a good book on travel because you are very informative and also helpful.

    Waiting for your Paris stay !
    Pls check your mailbox; I forgot to drop you a bit of info.

    Cheers !

  5. Definitely a good tip about the shoes in U.S. airports. Right after they implemented that rule, I flew to Phoenix and wore these calf-height lace-up boots. Not a good situation. 🙂

  6. Great ideas. I hate the way my feet swell up when I travel so I try to leave my shoes on as it can be difficult to get them back on at the end of a trip.

  7. Lilly, thanks and Kim, love the ‘travel PJ’s’ 🙂

    Jules, I’m going too look for boroleum ointment here in the U.S. Thanks for what sounds like a fantastic tip.

    Barbara, definitely dark and comfy is the way to go! Sam, lace-up boots wouldn’t be fun at Security but I’m sure they looked great.

    Linda, exactly re keeping shoes on to make sure the swollen feet still fit into them – not to mention protecting feet and socks from icky airline floor contents and germs, especially the aisles where people track in and out of loos with sticky floors – yuk!

    Cheers all and thanks for the great comments.

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