Remember old videos from the first commercial flights where passengers were wearing suits and dresses, nice shoes with laces, belts, everything that you should never wear on a flight.
If you are making a quick flight, let's say Boston to Philly, you might be able to get away with being dressed like that. But if you are traveling from New York to LA, making a transatlantic flight, or maybe you're taking a trip to Asia or the land down under. Those flights can be over twelve hours long!
You will never see anyone landing after a transpacific flight, who has any experience, with attire that has any buttons actually buttoned, zippers, or even shoes they need to lace and unlace. It’s about comfort, and nothing is more stylish on an airplane than looking comfortable.
Basic Attire To Wear On The Plane
On your lower body, sweatpants are king. You will need something that fits you well and that you can move in. Joggers are preferred because they are less baggy, but most sweat pants will be suitable. Remember, you will likely need to walk some distance between gates, so you want something you can move comfortably in, while also being able to sit long hours in.
- Joggers - Essentially just form-fitting sweatpants, they are very convenient.
- Standard Sweat Pants - Sometimes the bagginess isn’t ideal, but otherwise a good choice.
- Leggins - A similar concept to legging, just make sure they are comfortable.
- Pajama Pants - Is it possible to be too casual? Probably not, but make sure they are tough enough to get you through the flight.
If you’re thinking comfort, you might be thinking a simple t-shirt will do, but the AC on the airplane will be blasting and the blanket they may give you usually isn't too thick. So in this case, a light long sleeve, or even an easy to put on and take off flannel is a good bet. You don’t need to bother buttoning it, it's just a kind of blanket you can wear. You can take it off easily enough and stash it in your carry-on. Then, you can pull it out if the occasion calls for it.
- Flannel and T-shirt Combo - Versatile and adjustable, it's a great combination.
- Long Sleeve Shirt - A solid choice as long as the sleeves are easy to roll up, and it is thick enough to endure the airplane AC.
- Light Sweater - As long as your not starting or ending in a tropical/subtropical location, this is also a solid choice.
These may be the most important part of your whole attire. Only the US and a few other countries require you to take off your shoes when you go through security, but it is still good to prioritize comfort and ease of removal. If you have to bend down and untie your shoes you are doing something wrong. But, you also need to keep in mind that you may be walking a good bit to reach your gate. I don’t know if you have ever walked through Hong Kong’s airport, but the thing is massive. Low-rise, loosely laced basketball shoes are a good choice. They are easy to kick on and off. But there are other options to consider too.
- Loosely Laced Basketball Shoes - Supportive and easy to get on and off as long as they aren’t the high ankle versions.
- Loosely Laced Running Shoes - A little less supportive, and sometimes a little more snug, but also not a bad choice.
- Crocks - If you want to be that guy then yeah, these are actually a practical choice.
- Laceless Shoes - Not a bad choice either.
- Sandals - If you’re at a small airport and you are starting and ending in warm weather, then these are reasonable.
What Makes a Good Carry-On?
A backpack, check everything they allow you to check without additional cost. The less you have on you personally the better. Trust the airline to do their job getting your stuff there. If they mess up, negotiate something nice from them. They will do a lot to avoid a bad review. Backpacks are a good go-to. You want as little in your hands as possible. Items you need to constantly remember to pick up are items that get lost. A backpack is simple. Get a good one you can fit a lot into. Don’t be that person delaying take-off because they can’t get their carry-on to fit in the provided space.
- Backpack - The best choice. You don’t need to think much about it, you can fit a lot into it, and it's simply easy.
- Shoulderbag - Not as practical to carry as a backpack, especially if you’ve packed a lot into it, but still serviceable.
- Purse - This will often not even qualify as a carry-on or luggage of any type, so it’s just extra carrying space.
Should You Bring Your Own Pillow?
Yes, you should. Often a quality airline will provide you with a pillow, but often that pillow isn’t anything special. Be that person walking through the airport with their neck pillow still around their neck. That is a person who knows how to travel in comfort. There are many quality neck pillows available. Go for the Tempurpedic ones. They are firm and supportive. You will also be able to use them in creative ways for superior comfort. The bean bag ones don’t hold up, though they are better than nothing.
- Neck Pillow - Yes, this is what you want.
- Standard Pillow - The okay choice.
- Rolled Up Flannel Pillow Substitute - This is again why flannel is a good option. If you are out of options you can just roll it up and it's a great pillow.
Going Somewhere with a Different Climate?
This is a little dependent on if you are going from hot to cold or cold to hot. Rainy is fairly easy to solve, you will be able to pick up your luggage before you go outside so just simply stash an umbrella in your normal, checked luggage.
Hot to Cold
From hot to cold, the flannel idea becomes important again. A flannel is easy to stash in your carry-on and you will likely already be wearing it to deal with the intense AC inside the aircraft. As long as you already have cold weather attire packed inside your checked luggage, you’ll be fine. You’ll be able to pull your winter coat out of your luggage easily enough before you need to go outside.
Cold to Hot
From Cold to Hot, you might want to go ahead and stash any cold-weather gear you have into your checked luggage once you enter the airport. It won't do you any good to burden your carry-on with these items.