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Monday, January 7, 2013

The Magnificient Seven: 7 Things You Should Always Wear on a Plane

Hi Ya'll--With convention season starting up again next month, and a good portion of my life spent on a plane, I'm always looking for travel tips to make life a little more manageable. 

Just in time, after the holidays, www.smartertravel.com posted this article by Caroline Costello on "Seven Things You Should Always Wear on a Plane."  

Now, I have my own ideas. Ten years ago, I was very much into wearing overalls on planes. Loose and comfortable with lots of pockets. I called it my flight suit. However, now with tightened security, the metal tabs that hold the straps on always set off the metal detectors. 

 These days I more often than not opt for cargo pants with side pockets and some good shoes that are easy to slip off. A long sleeve top is also good. Most of the flights (except a few on Iberia which were terribly hot, are rather cold.) I don't think I'm making any fashion statements, but it's practical and comfortable. 

For you road warriors perhaps this article will also offer few valuable tips. It reminded me of a few things I SHOULD be doing.  My notes follow each of the seven.



"Seven Things You should Always Wear on a  Plane"
By Caroline Costello

Dressing appropriately for air travel means knowing what will keep you comfortable on the plane—and given the cramped seats and various temperature changes on flights, this isn't always easy. The following seven items, which provide plenty of comfort plus a touch of style, are essential for any jet-setting flyer's wardrobe. Be the best dressed in the cabin with our guide to in-flight apparel.


Layers, Layers, Layers

Air travel is often an assemblage of various disparate micro-climates, from the sweat-inducing sunny tarmac to the arctic air-conditioned cabin during flight. So fight discomfort with plenty of layers. I like to wear a washable cotton scarf (like this one from J.Crew Factory) that's a large enough to double as a wrap when it's particularly chilly. Pashminas, shawls, wraps, cardigans, sweatshirts, vests, and light jackets are perfect. You can even fold or roll soft items, like cotton jackets, and use them as makeshift pillows during flight.
Plus, the more layers you pile on your body, the less you need to pack in your luggage. Roll items and stuff them in your carry-on bag or under the seat in front of you if you're too warm. A foldable, reusable bag like Baggu, which takes up almost no suitcase space and can even be scrunched up and stuffed into a pocket, is useful for toting extra apparel that you've taken off.
Layers that help you regulate temperature while flying also come in very handy when traveling through various (actual) climates. And for travelers hitting the road during shoulder season, when weather is particularly unpredictable, layers are key for optimal comfort.

(Renee's Note: Layers are a must. I always take a jacket or hoodie to wear on the plane, as well as a pashmina--that translates to scarf--most of mine from a flea market in Paris. Especially now that most airlines do not provide pillows and blankets, these come in handy. Your hoodie can also double as a pillow. And as she mentions above, on a side note, somewhere in my luggage I do have an extra bag made of lightweight material that can be used as a carry on, if I happen to return with souveniers, etc. )


Breathable Fabrics

Maintain in-flight comfort and cleanliness by wearing breathable fabrics—materials that allow air and moisture to pass through—like cotton, silk, or linen. Fabrics that don't allow air to circulate will hold sweat on the skin, likely making you feel dirtier faster and probably necessitating a good spin in the washing machine upon landing. Natural fabrics are great, but moisture-wicking manmade fabrics are suitable options as well.

(Renee's Note: Could not agree more. Cotton is my favorite fabric for travel or any time. Not a fan of the manmade fabrics however. I always feel like I can't breath, much less my clothes.) 


Support or Compression Legwear

Many doctors recommend that pregnant women wear support or compression stockings or socks in flight. But compression legwear is also a good choice for those with pre-existing medical conditions, travelers taking long-haul flights, and anyone who flies often. The socks or stockings, which promote blood circulation, help prevent swelling of the legs, and help guard against deep vein thrombosis (DVT), work by putting pressure on leg muscles and increasing blood flow. You can find them at many pharmacies and drug stores, and they're often available from travel-supplies stores like Magellan's.

(Renee's Notes:  This is a new one for me. I know several friends with Diabeties that are using these socks to help improve circulation. And they work wonders.  I can see how they'd be great on a flight. Especially a long one.)


Comfortable, Simple Shoes

It's best to wear extremely comfortable, mostly flat shoes on the plane—think of your poor feet after hours or even days of sitting, standing, and walking en route to your destination. You'll also want to select shoes that are easy to slip on and off when passing through airport security (as we advise in 10 Ways to Speed Through Airport Security.)
My favorite shoes to wear on a plane are Keds Skimmers for women, which offer sneaker-grade comfort but look more like cute ballet flats. Additionally, I recommend CitySlips (for women), Toms (for men and women), and higher-end Tieks (for women). Tieks also offers a line of vegan shoes.

(Renee's Notes: There was a time when I use to wear cowboy boots everywhere and for every occassion. I don't any more-- except when I'm Cajun dancing. Nice comfortable shoes are now a must on the plane.)


Clothes with Lots of Pockets

With all kinds of airline baggage fees dropping like hot bricks, clothes that do double duty as wearable carry-on bags are de rigueur. We love the Scottevest Travel Vest (available for men or women), which is also one of our picks in 10 Best Travel Clothes to Wear on the Road. And there are myriad other travel jackets out there that feature an explosion of pockets, like the Ultimate Travel Jacket from Orvis or the (admittedly dorky-looking) Voyager Vest, which appears to be exactly the same as a fishing vest. But it gets the job done, if you can pull off the angler look.

(Renee's Notes:  As mentioned I'm a big fan of cargo pants. Haven't gone the vest route though, except on one trip to Peru. Remember however, the more pockets you have, the more pockets you have to remember to take things out of when going through security. And here's my biggest tip: If you are going to Peru, or the Amazon, or someplace where you KNOW you are going to get dirty. Don't spend a ton of money on these things. Go to your local thrift shop, find what you need, pay a fraction of the cost, and help a charity all at the same time. If it falls into the Zambezi you aren't going to cry over it. )


Loose-Fitting Clothing

As we mentioned before, DVT is a danger on flights, where travelers stuck in cramped seats for long periods of time are at greater risk for developing blood clots. To reduce the risk of getting DVT, the University of Washington Medical Center recommends avoiding "tight clothing, nylons, or socks (especially the type that are too tight at the top and/or leave marks on your skin) that might restrict blood flow through veins." So leave your skinny jeans at home and opt for less restrictive garments like A-line skirts, loose-fitting dresses, or more relaxed straight-or wide-leg pants. TravelSmith's Aero Microfleece Pants (for men) feel and fit like sweats, but won't make you look like a hospital escapee.

(Renee's Notes: I swear, as God is my witness, I will never wear a cat sweat top. Loose top yes. With Feline on it, no! )


Something Stylish

Don't throw fashion totally out the window. When it comes to dressing for a flight, much of our advice focuses on function. But dressing with a bit of style—while keeping conscious of comfort, of course—could help you get a free upgrade. An anonymous source told Goop, "On a Virgin flight back to Heathrow, I spotted one of the staff's monitors that read, 'Look for well-dressed people to upgrade.' The staff then began looking around for well-dressed people to upgrade. I'm not saying this will happen every time, but if you are looking to get upgraded, it helps to look smart." Throw a flowy, fashion-forward dress on over your compression socks and flash the airline staff a smile.

(Renee's Notes: Gone are the days that folks dressed for dinner and the theatre, alas, much less for flying. I would love a little more class, in first class or domestic class for that matter, to tell you the truth. Just like I'd still like a nice meal with real silverwear and real plates, and a pillow and a blanket.... sigh... Still... There are ways to make yourself look put together, without looking silly or overdressed. I do bother sometimes, but... I generally go for comfort and just hope that I don't see anyone I know.... but maybe I'll revise my stance. :-) if it means that much to Virgin! LOL)


And there you have it. Tips for a more comfortable ride. As for me, I'm still holding out hope for teleportation in my lifetime.  

Happy trails, everyone!


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