What to wear for international flights

The long-haul flight is a special beast. Anytime you are strapped into a metal tube with hundreds of random people for eight, ten, fourteen, or more hours, there are special considerations to make. If you have other flights before and after the long one, you are in for a very long day(s). There are plenty of things to worry about—what to pack and how to entertain yourself, for a few. But one of the most important things to decide is what to wear.

What you wear on a long day of travel is crucial, as it can make or break your comfort. A few key things to look for:

  • No zippers or buttons. When you are wearing something for 24 hours, the smallest thing can be irritating. Minimize the possible problem areas by wearing items that you can pull on, instead of needing to be fastened.
  • Plenty of stretch.  Long flights are definitely not the time to hope that something stretches out. Make sure everything you wear moves with you!
  • Smooth, soft fabric. I have pants that I thought were comfortable, until I wore them to an all-day meeting. They fit all of the other requirements—no zippers, stretchy, good fit. But as I found out that day the fabric had tiny grooves in it. By hour six of sitting my skin was starting to get irritated. By hour eight I could barely sit still. And by hour ten when we finally wrapped up I thought I would rip the pants off in front of my coworkers (wouldn’t that have been a sight!). Point being, make sure the fabric is actually smooth. Smooth-knit jersey is best.

Here are three possible outfits for ultimate comfort on a long-haul flight.


Option 1: Uber Comfort. This is the most blatantly comfortable outfit out of the three. Feels like jammies but looks a bit nicer. Yoga pants, long sleeved tee, and sneakers.

Option 2: Mid-Level. This looks a little more like an outfit, but feels just like the first option. A pair of yoga pants that looks like regular pants (I like the Athleta Bettonas), a cute long sleeved tee, and Toms.

Option 3: Professional Comfort. This option is best if you’re traveling with coworkers. It resembles a professional outfit, but is still incredibly comfortable. A jersey dress, leggings, and cute flats.

There are a few items that go with every outfit: a cozy wrap sweater, compression socks, and a great travel bag to hold all of your necessities.

It is possible on a long travel day to look professional yet feel like you’re wearing jammies, but that’s not the only option. No matter what you wear, make sure it is incredibly comfortable and won’t irritate your skin. Otherwise you’re in for a very uncomfortable flight!

Readers, what do you wear for long travel days?

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  1. As a guy, I would suggest you go with option #1 for a few reasons:

    1) No need to walk through the naked scanner – the clothes are revealing enough.

    2) Maybe you’ll get better treatment from the TSA. Or a pat down. Either way, they will gawk at you.

    3) I always enjoy a free show, and yoga pants with a tight tee tend you show off a woman’s curves quite nicely.

    Yes, I am a sexist pig. But anything you can do to brighten my day is much appreciated.

  2. All great suggestions…keep this in mind though: If you check your bag and you have to go straight to meetings, be sure to bring something professional to wear in your carry on!

  3. I wear something similar to option 2 but I always wear/take a 100% wool cardigan. 2 reasons – it keeps you warm but packs small and you don’t overheat in a warm cabin wearing wool cos it breathes.

  4. Great tips! I absolutely love Yummie Tummie leggings for long-haul flights. They are super comfortable, but “hold it all in” and don’t lose their shape even after 8-12 hours crunched in an airplane seat. They are also thick enough that you can throw on a long sweater or blazer and some boots and look great for the trip to your hotel.

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