What to Wear For an International Flight

Ugh, self portraiture.  Camera is already packed, hello Instagram.  

We should be, hopefully, in India at this point, but until we’re officially back in wifi land, a quick, pre-schedule post.

I know nothing about fashion, I don’t have any high maintenance beauty routines, I don’t know how to accessorize to save my life.  But I like to think I’ve perfected the art of dressing smart for international travel.  Here’s my uniform:

1. A long, nicely-tailored tunic-type shirt or sweater.  It should be something that you can sleep in comfortably but that could also read “business casual” if necessary.  Tunic length is nice when traveling to more conservative countries and for avoiding weird gap-between-shirt-and-pants issues as you contort yourself into your tiny seat or across your neighbors lap to reach the restroom.

2. Skinny dark/black jeans or nice leggings.  This isn’t about looking cool, this is all about practicality.  The cleaner your pants stay, the cleaner you stay.  On international flights, especially from places like China and India you  do NOT want to expose any more of your person or clothing items to the floor of the airplane restroom than you have to, hence pants that hit at the ankle.

3. Slip on shoes and socks.  Not only are slip-ons easier going through airport security, but its nice to be able to easily slip off your footwear and curl up without worrying about dirtying up your seat or blanket.  I always pack socks, at least for the airplane because my feet get cold.

4. A nice big, somewhat heavy scarf.  Rather than pack a blanket and a jacket, I always just wear a scarf to help stay warm on the plane and on the tarmac. I try to make sure its something that could also be used as a towel or a head covering, should the need arise.

5. My hair in a single french-braid.  After traveling across the world, I don’t like my hair looking like a greasy advertisement to the world that “hello! I haven’t showered in over 36 hours!”  French braids tend to just look better, more messy chic, the longer I wear them (up to a point).  Should I land to find out that another shower won’t be in the cards anytime soon, I just undo the braid, finger comb, and I have a new hairstyle that can get me through at least a few more hours of activity.

Finally, it’s not just what you wear, but what you bring with you that matters.

I’m always afraid of landing in a foreign country and finding out that our luggage is lost (has happened) or that I’m going to have to get through another day and a half of work/social functions with nothing more than the clothes on my back (has also happened).

As such, no matter how much baby gear we need to bring, no matter how much of our luggage I need to devote to my oatmeal and cranberry rations, I always make sure I have the following items in my carry-on:

1. Face-wipes (a great way to wake up after a long flight)

2. Super-thick skin cream (for slathering all over my face and hands)

3. Basic make-up (mascara, concealer, lip balm and blush-the last one is key for looking truly alive after a long flight)

4. A clean pair of underwear.

5. A toothbrush and/or listerine strips.

That’s it, that’s my travel uniform.  What’s yours?

(Shirt and shoes are J. Crew–I never buy anything from there unless it’s on sale but that striped shirt was my first ever exception.  Scarf is Chinese knock-off, shoes are Sanuks–my favorite shoes ever, so comfortable and regularly on sale a few times a year.  Earrings are Target, toiletry case is Muji-the best store in the whole world)

Will taking his pre-airport nap.


22 thoughts on “What to Wear For an International Flight

  1. Love you travel kit! I do the super big scarf as well! It also works great for wrapping around kids and snuggling, but I mostly use it to keep super cold air currents from blowing straight down on me during a several hour overseas haul. We just arrived in Ankara – 4 out of our 7 bags went walkabout. Ugh. So I have to agree with the packing just an extra few things on carry on, as well as putting mixing up the contents of the suitcases so all of one person’s things aren’t missing. Hoping you have smooth sailing to India and all your luggage with you in the end! And thanks for a great list of making that flight work for you – this will help many!

  2. You’re way classier than me. I still find it perfectly acceptable to wear pajama pants. 🙂

    But I do wish I knew how to french braid. Darn.

    • Ha, I pack leggings for the plane 🙂 I don’t remember when I learned how to French braid but I do know it made a killer impression on Chris’ female colleagues in Chengdu. They all thought I went to a salon. Funny considering I don’t know how to do anything with my hair but braid it!

  3. I totally agree on the French braid, but I actually find 2 are better as the one creates a bump right where I can rest my head when I lean back. I have been trying to get away from jeans and just bought some great brick-red stretchy pants that I think will fit the bill. For shoes I love Merrills, they are slip on and sooo comfy. Now I have to look into Muji ….

    • oooh red pants sound awesome! I have a pair but I have to admit I haven’t worn them as much yet as I’d like. Maybe here though!

    • ooh a Singapore fix is so good when your in the boondocks! Muji and chili crab, hmm maybe we’ll have to make a run sometime too!

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  5. Muji is great! Loved the paper products and little travel bottles we have from Manila.

    Yup, I agree with absolutely everything. That was my uniform in Gonder last weekend, the entire weekend. For third world travel it’s perfect. I have to suggest bringing dry shampoo because that stuff is sent from the Gods. You can get another few DAYS out of your hair with it if needed. As I do often. Powder too so you can carry it on. Definitely button down or tunic shirt with a t underneath, scarf, skinny pants, and I can’t travel without my TOMS. Basically the same stuff. I only sale J crew too. I find that their t-shirts and such get little tiny holes before they should. But I love that tunic. I need to add a few more to my closet. They are so versatile. Earrings are the only thing you need to accessorize with during travel. That and a watch!

    Happy travels. I hope it goes well with your little one. Just try to keep your expectations super low. Like…I will not sleep at all the entire trip. So when you get a two hour nap you are happy about it. Or I will be covered in boogers, baby pee and food gobs when I arrive at our destination. So when one sleeve is clean you are kind of stoked about it!

  6. For our trip home from NZ, I used every air mile we had to bump up to business class. They supply you with everything you need and treat you like a human being. After makings that 36 hour trip 5 times in coach….it was a huge relief to go home and not feel like a dirt bag. Both kids slept for 8 hours! We got a capital one venture card which gives you double miles, no international charge fees and no yearly fee. We use it for everything, even to buy cars. Love it.

    • We upgraded for part of our trip, couldn’t upgrade on Lufthansa because we have United miles. It is amazing how much nicer a trip is in biz class, but I have to say, having to sit up straight with Will because he can’t sleep any other way, coach was actually almost more comfortable! I do love biz class though for how much water they give you during the flight! In coach they give me dirty looks when I ask them to fill up my water bottle! 🙂

  7. this is excellent! I always obsess over what to wear on long flights and I never thought of this outfit, but it is a great idea for many reasons! thanks!

    • Thanks! Lots of trial and error here…and then of course once you’re covered in puke it ceases to be quite so polished and sophisticated a look 🙂

  8. Love this post! I wore my yoga pants with a tank top and brought a pullover. I wore sneakers and socks, but I loosened the laces for easier on/off action. I WISHED I had brought a toothbrush/toothpaste! We pretty much ate half of my container of mints, because it just wasn’t doing the trick for me. I love your outfit!

    • Have you guys seen those little listerine strips they sell now? I think I ate like 3 packs of them on our trip this time! 🙂 How is Sarajevo treating you guys so far?

      • Sorry, just now noticed your comment! I used to use those, but I haven’t seen them in years. I’m pretty sure I would’ve gone through a mass amount of those, too. I think Sarajevo is good so far. It’s our 1st post and we are still adjusting and I know it will be wonderful once we’re fully acclimated, as I’m sure you can relate. I finally updated my blog and hope to add more soon about what we’ve already done in the short time we’ve been here. Still trying to get a system down of keeping my blog current. =) Hope all is well with you, too!

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