There is nothing quite like loading yourself into a single, poorly padded, seat for multiple hours that can soon lead to some major discomfort. But don’t let that stop you from exploring! You can survive a long-haul flight if you pack some airplane essentials and know a few tips for what to wear and what seat to pick!
What to Wear For a Long Flight
My go-to long-haul flight outfit is pretty simple. This is one time when comfort is a priority, but that doesn’t mean you have to look frumpy. You can leave the pajama pants packed away and still survive a long flight in economy with a few little tricks.
- Comfortable Pants
- Shirt with Cardigan or Hoodie
- Blanket Scarf or Travel Blanket
- Compression Socks
- Slip-On Shoes
Best Pants for Long Flights
First, let’s talk about pants. I love to wear solid black leggings. They can be paired with some cute tops and/or cardigans and look fashionable while still staying comfortable. I buy simple ones Amazon, but I also love prAna leggings. Lately, I’m wearing Aerie pocket leggings, which my daughter got me hooked on.
If you’re not a legging person, you can find some great travel pants that work well. Look for soft, quick-drying fabrics, and soft or elastic waistbands. I’ve really fallen in love with these Columbia pants. Men can wear jeans but might prefer athletic or travel pants.
I also love prAna pants and these three all have a stretch waist: Fernie Beach Pants (lightweight and loose), Koen Pant (a bit more stylish and slim silhouette), Summit Pant (loose with a bit of style and comes in short and long lengths).
What Shirts to Wear on a Long Flight
I love to wear soft t-shirts when I fly. My favorites are from prAna and Target. But any soft comfortable tee will work. I also really like cute graphic tees and normally find great ones at Target and Old Navy. Graphic tees can look really cute with a cardigan and leggings.
I love to pair my black leggings with a white t-shirt, but keep in mind that white does show stains. If you’re prone to spills or traveling with little ones, you might want to wear dark tops or shirts with a print.
I often pair my leggings and t-shirt with a long cardigan that has pockets. Men might want to bring a hoodie for an added layer.
You might also want to wear a blanket scarf on the flight. A cute blanket scarf will make your outfit look more put together. Plus, it can serve as a good travel item to wear during your trip. You can even get a travel scarf that has a hidden pocket for your passport and such.
I often will use a travel blanket that packs up small, but often on long flights overseas, they’ll provide a blanket at your seat. However, I’m not always sure if those blankets are clean. Packing a blanket scarf or travel blanket will keep you warm and avoid germs. :)
Best Shoes to Wear on a Long Flight
Before we chat shoes, consider packing a pair of compression socks, I love my Comrad socks. You might also pack a pair of cozy socks to keep your feet warm if you suffer from poor circulation. I’ll share below in this post how useful compression socks are for long flights!
You’ll want to think through what shoes to wear for your flight. I highly recommend slip-on shoes, like these Dr. Scholl’s shoes or my new favorite Vionic Pismo Sneakers. I recommend slip-on shoes because they’ll feel better if your feet swell on the flight (a common thing) and it’s also convenient for getting through airport security.
Of course, if you’re packing light you might be wearing your bulkiest shoes, like hiking boots. But if you’re going to be on a long flight, I highly recommend you wear slip-ons shoes. I also never recommend wearing sandals or flip-flops for flying. Unless you really overheat while flying, these types of shoes don’t provide enough coverage for a flight in my opinion.
Long Haul Flight Tips to Stay Comfortable
Here are a few of my best travel tips for long flights, including what I think are the best seats for long flights.
Choosing the Right Seat for a Long Plane Ride
The first tip has to do with seat choice, and I have a few thoughts on that. First, if you have long legs, consider splurging for an extra legroom premium seat if available. Of course, if you’re playing the points game or flying on an airline that allows upgrading, you may choose to upgrade to first class. Check out my experience flying business class on TAP Portugal.
Just be sure that the premium seat includes extra legroom, some premium seats do not have more room and only offer early boarding or forward seat location perks.
If you’re not splurging for premium seats, then check the seat map, and don’t be scared to pick a farther back row. People love to sit closer to the front, so those rows fill up faster. Sometimes on flights that aren’t full you’ll find the back rows have a lot of empty middle seats, sometimes you’ll even see someone with an entirely empty row.
A few notes, keep in mind where bathrooms are located. Sometimes extra legroom seats are also near the lavatories and if you’re in an aisle seat on a big plane with middle plane lavatories you may have people next to you often, not to mention the smell and noise.
Also, note on large flights overseas, families with babies can often be seated at the front “bulkhead” rows in order to have access to a bassinet system for the baby to sleep. If you sit near a bassinet row be sure to pack some earplugs. A good idea actually for anyone flying as babies aren’t the only loud things on planes!
My final tip about seat choice is to choose a window seat if you like to sleep. I often choose aisle seats to prevent claustrophobic feelings, however, I never sleep well with people constantly bumping my shoulder or elbow or grabbing my seat back as they walk past. You’ll also have to get up to let any of your row-mates out to use the restroom, which could interrupt your sleep.
If you’re planning to sleep on the flight, check out my review for the best travel neck pillows for planes.
Selecting a window seat allows you to lean against the wall/window and snooze away undisturbed. Window seats also have the perk of getting to look at and photograph any beautiful landscapes that you might fly over.
Just be sure to use the restroom right when you board. After meal service can be a good time to use the lavatory too since people are often awake and tray tables aren’t full of meals and drinks.
One thing you’ll notice on long flights is that the flight crew will often walk by with cups of water. There is a reason for that! The airplane cabin has very low humidity and you can quickly become dehydrated.
Dehydration can lead to skin discomfort, fatigue, muscle cramping, and headaches. So, when you see an attendant walk by with a tray or bottle of water, take a cup. Your body will thank you!
Another tip is to also pack your own reusable water bottle and fill it up at the airport once you’ve cleared security. If you have lounge access, they often have chilled, flavored water in a dispenser. Many airports often have water bottle filling stations near the drinking fountains.
Get Up and Move
First and foremost, obey the seat belt light. But if the pilot has given the all-clear to move about the cabin, feel free to take a bit of a walk. I like to regularly head to the bathroom just to stretch my legs and wash my hands.
There are a lot of germs on airplanes, so keeping your hands washed is a good idea, plus you’ll stretch those legs and that’ll help you stay comfortable on a long flight.
Long Flight Essentials
The other major tip for surviving a long flight is to pack a few essential travel items that will help you stay comfortable. I always pack a little bag of go-to comfort items for the flight and then have them easily accessible at my feet.
You’re going to want to pack things like gum, hand sanitizer, charging cables, reading material, wipes, eye drops, ibuprofen, and an eye mask just to name a few.
I’ll soon have a whole post with tips for my carry-on packing list and product recommendations for what I pack for a long flight. But in the meantime, I’m giving you the chance to get my checklist to help you know what to pack on a long flight.
Sign up below to get the printable list delivered to your email.
Hopefully, now you’re ready to relax on your next flight. Picking the perfect long-haul flight outfit, packing a few travel essentials in your carry-on, and knowing a few of my favorite flight tips should help you survive your next long flight.
Tuesday 21st of March 2023
Thanks for the tips I have a flight it’s not exactly long it’s two hours But I want to be comfortable and I have learned When I fly To always stay hydrated and to use the bathroom And you mentioned all that thanks
Friday 10th of March 2023
I’m in healthcare and travel frequently both domestically and abroad. I agree with most everything, the exception being the window seat. The windows don’t get cleaned frequently and the shade has germs from passengers moving it up and down. You should Never lay your head against it. I alway choose an isle and bring a good pillow.
Monday 13th of March 2023
Planes are dirty for sure! Definitely one of the reasons I pack sanitizing wipes and wipe all those areas after boarding. And I use a travel pillow with a washable cover!
Printable Cruise Packing List (75 Best Things to Pack)
Wednesday 13th of July 2022
[…] outdoors one early morning or evening. Also, keep in mind that I think pants are essential for traveling comfortably on a plane. I’m really loving these Eddie Bauer cropped travel joggers […]
Thursday 2nd of January 2020
I was pulled out for an extensive swab test recently at security. As I pulled up my slacks legs to show my ugly compression socks, I joked about my"old lady socks" . The TSA agent said you'd be surprised how many even young people wear them. Glad to hear there are prettier ones available without paying an arm and a leg! LoL
Thursday 2nd of January 2020
Haha, that's funny and sad! Those TSA checks can really put a damper on your trip. I love how they have cute ones and ones that are a little less intense. I get claustrophobic and tight medical-grade compression socks stress me out!
Friday 14th of June 2019
As all before me have said, these are great tips! I especially appreciate them as reminders, as my amazing husband and I will be flying to Alexandria, VA next week. I got my first pair of compression socks at Marshall's (solid medium blue made in Italy under $9.00.) and there are great deals on travel items and luggage there and at TJMaxx. I also found a six pack of fun striped compression socks for around $20.00.
Tuesday 18th of June 2019
That's fabulous! I love TJMaxx and I'll have to check out their compression socks when I'm shopping there next. I've heard many rave about getting great suitcase deals there. I often get aromatherapy, purses, and sunglasses!