Last week’s travel post covered sweaters and scarves; this week’s installment on in-flight comfort will focus on pants/bottoms and shoes (though I’ll have a post later dedicated to stylish, comfortable shoes for travel).
Because I travel carry-on only, I try to wear my heaviest, bulkiest items on the plane. We tend to travel during cool to transitional seasons*, so my bulkiest items will often be jeans and boots. But if I wear jeans on a long flight, I make sure that they are comfortable, have some stretch and do not bind AT ALL in the waist. Most of us will swell or bloat just a bit on a long flight, so give yourself some breathing room. Ponte knit or heavier yoga pants are another alternative. Remember that if your flight arrives in the morning, you may not be able to check into your hotel right away and may be doing a bit of sightseeing in whatever clothing you wore on the flight, so clothing that won’t stretch out or look rumpled is key.
In general, I prefer to travel in clothing that, while not tight, is cut fairly close to the body. Clothes that are bulky or oversized are harder to layer, and billowing, voluminous items can get caught in doorways, turnstiles, any narrow spaces you may be trying to navigate with luggage in tow. Baggy clothing can also bunch up or get twisted up if you’re trying to sleep in flight…just something else to consider. I know some women like to wear full or long skirts with tights or leggings, and if that’s what you feel most comfortable in, go for it. Personally, I’m most comfortable in pants for travel days.
I don’t maintain a separate wardrobe just for travel or purchase specialized “travel clothing,” though depending on your destinations and activities, that may make sense for you. I’ve found a simple pair of slim stretch pants in a neutral color can be dressed up or down and go from sightseeing out to dinner with a change of tops and accessories. Look for fabrics and styles that are washable; you’ll get much more mileage from these than anything that has to be pressed or dry-cleaned. A note about bootcut or flare-leg pants: if your travels take you anywhere that rain or puddles or even snow are a possibility, leave these behind or tuck into your boots when out and about. They will act like a sponge, soaking up and holding moisture.
Airport security is every traveler’s bane. I’ve rarely gone through security when it wasn’t a mad scramble, with trying to figure out what goes in which tray, removing all items that need to pass through the scanner, and then retrieving all of your belongings on the other side, all the while in the (close) company of scores of fellow travelers, who may or may not be calm and patient themselves. Pants that don’t require a belt mean one less item to remove. I always, ALWAYS wear socks, even if they’re just athletic ankle socks. I shudder seeing people in flip-flops who have to pass barefoot through security. Though seasoned travelers often advise to wear slip on shoes for going through security, your bulkiest pair may not qualify. Most of the boots I normally travel with have zippers. I would suggest you don’t wear anything that requires a lot of re-arranging to put back on…depending on the airport and the crowds you may have to step into and re-fasten your shoes without a place to sit.
Once on the plane, you may want to remove your shoes, but remember again that your feet will probably swell, so I’d advise against any shoes that are very snug to begin with. You’ll also want to be able to slip them back on easily to use the lavatory or go to the galley for warm-up on your tea.
A few items I always keep handy in my under-the-seat carry on bag:
- Hand lotion**
- Lip balm
- Spray mist for face**
- Dramamine (in case the flight gets bumpy or I have trouble falling asleep)
- Travel toothbrush and toothpaste
- Eye drops (these can go in your medications stash, don’t have to count toward your carry-on liquids limit)
**these will need to go into your 3-1-1 liquids bag, unless you purchase after going through security.
*I’ll have some warm weather packing suggestions in a later post.
Next up, some carry-on luggage options, and tips for packing light.
Do you have favorite trousers for travel, or strategies for getting through airport security with a minimum of stress?
MORE TRAVEL-FRIENDLY TROUSERS: (note, many of the Lands’ End style are available in Misses, Petites, Plus and Plus Petites)
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