What NOT to wear on a long haul flight………

By Toni Sharp

I have a problem when I fly……what to wear.  I want to be comfortable but stylish without being too over the top. 

We all know those sorts of outfits are the worst to put together and I always leave thinking I have it right but later find my new flat (sensible!) ankle strap (didn’t think it through!) sandals struggle to be fastened when I am departing the plane because my feet have swollen to an unrecognisable size.

I fly quite a bit throughout the year for work and for pleasure and have learned what works well. I cannot bear to wear a tracksuit (clap or boo) and trainers are meant for the gym but how do you look stylish without being over the top?


If you are travelling in the winter, a maxi dress is amazing.  You can wear leggings underneath and even boots to brave the British winter as these are hardly seen.  On top, pop on a cardigan or smart jacket and carry a pashmina in case you need it.  Accessorise with statement jewellery and not only will you look smart but you will feel comfortable. When you arrive at your exotic destination, you can take off all your winter wear and be left with your summer maxi dress.  Make sure you carry light weight flip flops in your hand luggage to quickly pop on!


Try to avoid white.  I have worn white several times and have been lucky but I always worry it won’t be white when I arrive.  You never know who you will be sitting next to or what could be spilt on you!  If you want to wear your whites then pack a lightweight spare top/bottoms in your hand luggage you can to change into if the worst happens.


Do not wear strappy sandals or evening shoes.  Unless you’re Victoria Beckham it’s not a practical look and not a particularly stylish one.  THINK COMFORT!  I chose a pair of Toms to fly to Malaysia in.  They were flat and comfortable when I tried them on in the shop and were quite classic and stylish.  However, I didn’t break them in.  After the first leg of our flight, I hobbled off the plane as they were rubbing my heels and the strap was at bursting point with my feet having swollen because they had been strapped in.  The 20 minute walk that followed was not pretty and certainly not stylish.  Try your most comfortable flip flops or if you are wearing pumps, make sure you break them in!

Accessorize Flip Flops


If you are not planning on wearing socks, take a pair with you in your hand luggage.  If you want to take your shoes off, you may not wish to put your bare feet onto the floor.  Also, you usually get pretty high up in a plane and so it’s much cooler up there and your little toes may get cold and socks keep your feet warm.  That pashmina from earlier may come in handy too.


Don’t wear fabrics which are susceptible to snagging, tearing or staining easily.  You will be bending down, stretching, eating in a confined space.  Don’t wear fabrics that crease easily if you want to arrive looking fresh. I love my skinny 3/4 trousers from gap which are actually more comfortable than they sound. They’re perfect for long flights and they do have a bit of give in them.

Gap stretch 3/4 trousers

A final few things…..

  • If you want to sleep on a plane take ear plugs as a minimum.
  • Do you need that pillow? The number of times I have forced my travel pillow into my hand luggage and not used it. If you need one, invest in a quality travel pillow that you can perhaps deflate.
  • Pack hand sanitiser.
  • Use the hand towel you’re given to wipe your food tray (or take wet wipes with you to do this)…..don’t think the cleaning team will have time to clean every single tray before you board!
  • Pack your own headphones if you’re travelling in economy. The BA ones I recently used hurt my ears and the Virgin ones let far too much external noise in.
  • Take an zipped A5 travel wallet with you. I have a bright sky blue one form (easy to find!) and use mine to store my passports in, otherwise they sink to the bottom of my bag. After security I transfer my travel perfume, travel mirror/brush and lip balm across and then keep this in the seat pouch in front of me on the plane so it’s in easy reach.
  • Taking a short haul flight without entertainment? We always download a bunch of things from Netflix onto our phone or tablet and take a mobile battery pack with us. We also have a dual headphone jack (easy to pick up from the electronics department after security).
Europe, General

How to pack light and avoid checking in your case

When you are heading off for a short break, you don’t want to be taking a lot of luggage with you, especially as this is likely to lead to pricey checked luggage charges.  I am terrible for taking too much with me and no matter how hard I try to scale my luggage down, it’s always a close call.

I headed to Berlin and Malta a few years ago for 2 and 3 night breaks and I am still so pleased with my packing, I still talk about it now!  I decided to challenge myself to taking hand luggage only.  At the beginning, my only concern was the weight limit……how to scale down my 20kg load to just 10kg.  That actually turned out to be the easy part!  What I found really tough was only being able to take a single 20 x 20 cm bag for all liquids.  I took facial scrub, cleanser, various moisturisers, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, contact lens fluid, toothpastes, sun lotion, foundation, mascara, eye liner……you get the picture (quite literally….below)!


I am pleased to say that I managed, comfortably, to pack light for both breaks. It was liberating to be able to head straight to security rather than stand in the check-in line and even sweeter to walk out of the airport the other end without waiting for my bag to make an appearance on the carousel.

I thought it would be useful to give my top tips on packing light to save you time and money.  Just be mindful that you could actually arrive at the airport and be asked to check your bag in and so take a padlock with you just in case or if you forget and happen to have a hair band or elastic band, these come in useful as ties (potentially more secure as they can’t be tampered with as easily).

My top 5 tips

  • It starts with the case.  Invest in a lightweight case which takes your little finger alone to lift it.  We used the IT case.
  • Make a list of what you want to take and then think about what you need to take.  Take a second look at everything.  Do you need to take a full bottle of shampoo for 3 nights?  What does your hotel already provide?  Do you need 3 pairs of shoes?  Everything can be scaled down!
  • Be creative – I used a spare contact lens case for my cleanser which continued to last long after I got home; I can safely say that it would have lasted 10-14 nights (morning and night use).  Think about using sample sachets of body lotion and conditioner and samples of perfume (which lasted more than my 3 night stay).
  • Packing light means packing light clothing.  I took lightweight dresses which didn’t crease for the evening……better than heavy jeans.  I appreciate my sunny destinations helped with the light weight packing but even in Iceland a couple of years ago where it was very cold, I could pack a light dress and tights for the evening and I was already wearing my heavy coat to the airport which I would have worn over the dress.  Men could pack linen trousers as an alternative or, if jeans are a must, find some light weight ones.  You can always wear your heavier items!
  • Plan your wardrobe.  Usually, I just pack a lot of things and decide what to wear when I arrive.  For these short trips, I planned out everything, making sure I took items which I could mix and match.  Use a particular colour palette to make this easier.  It’s tedious I know but it will mean you don’t waste your valuable packing space, leaving room for souvenirs (non-liquid ones of course unless you have room for a small one in your 20 x 20 cm bag!).  It also means you get dressed more quickly as you have already decided what you are going to wear!

Toni Sharp