How to Dress for a Long Flight: 4 Myths Busted

by  Aly Walansky | Mar 13, 2015
Woman on plane
Woman on plane / yuran-78/iStock

There are packing tips that all travelers know to follow for long-haul flights -- bring layers, grab some earplugs, and maybe slip on an eye mask. But there's plenty of talk out there, like the suggestion of wearing our heaviest items to save luggage space, that actually would make the flight quite miserable. Here, we bust four myths so you can find as much comfort as possible on your next trip.

Myth: Fly in your heaviest items, like jeans, so your luggage will be lighter.
Truth: Clothing items like jeans tend to be tight and constricting, which both hampers your movement and feels uncomfortable even when you're not moving. “Rely on clothing that is lightweight, soft on the skin, and as non-restricting as possible,” says Patrick Smith, the airline pilot and writer behind Ask the Pilot. "My standard long-haul travel outfit is a pair of lightweight nylon travel pants and a long-sleeve cotton t-shirt." Longtime traveler and TourMatters editorial director Christel A. Shea adds that loose-fitting pants with an elastic waistband will also give you more freedom to move around. We like these wide-legged pants from Athleta, which would be great for those walking tour days, too.

Myth: Belts are too much trouble.
Truth: Yes and no. Wearing a heavy metal-and-leather clunker isn't a great idea -- but neither is having your pants drop around your bum. Opt for a metal-free, infinitely adjustable, breathable, and lightweight webbing belt. This way, you can easily loosen your belt when you're in your seat and tighten it up again when you need to get up. And when there aren't any metal parts, you won't even need to take off the belt off when you're going through airport security.

Myth: Forgo all easy-to-lose accessories.
Truth: No, maybe you don't need all of the 17 rings you typically wear, but road warriors know that the multi-purpose scarf is a must. Jaimee Ratliff of This Way North points out that scarves are perfect as an extra, light blanket when the temperatures dip during the flight, adding, “I also can use it as a pillow replacement or to give my pillow some extra cushion.”

Myth: Wear your bulkiest shoes or boots. You’ll have a lot more room in your baggage.
Truth: Many folks recommend wearing your biggest, heaviest shoes so you can cram more into your suitcase, but those are often the least comfortable to travel in. Plus, they're terrible if you want your feet to be able to breath (which, trust us, you do). With the exception of flip flops, which doesn't provide much of a barrier from the debris and bacteria that might be on the floor of the plane, it's better to stick to slim slipper, flats, or slim sneakers. Bonus points for slip-ons with no laces, which, as Shea points out, are easier to get on and off throughout the flight.

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