What to wear when you travel

Here’s how to master the art of layering for your next trip.

attractive woman standing in front of a train smartly dressed for a holiday

Layering is one of those trends that sounds simple enough until you actually try it: you can end up surrounded by most of your wardrobe, sweating after realising it’s not working the way you had envisaged. Hard to get right at the best of times, layering is even worse when it comes to travelling, but it becomes more of a necessity than a fashion statement.

While I wouldn’t call myself an expert at layering – I like to think the previous scenario counts as exercise, seeing as you break a sweat – I have got my travelling outfit down pat. Here’s what I wear when I hit the road/rails/skies: 

1. Footwear
Shoes are of upmost importance. Airports can be akin to long distance running tracks, so I usually go for a comfortable pair of shoes that is heavy (so I don’t need to pack it). In the warmer months this usually means clogs, and in cooler months, sneakers or boots. I always have my circulation socks in my handbag for long-haul flights. One further tip: don’t wear shoes that are annoying to remove at security. I learnt this the hard way.

2. Bottoms
I would always wear pants – usually jeans even if I’m going somewhere hot. This is because planes are usually not. You can always change into shorts or a skirt at the airport once you land. Again, opt for comfort here – don’t wear super-tight jeans that dig into you or pants that constantly need to be pulled up. Another option is comfortable stretch pants – although leggings alone definitely do not constitute pants!

3. Tops
Here’s where the real skill of layering comes in. I’ve found what works best for me is to wear a longer-line, loose-fitting singlet, layered with a long-sleeve top, then jumper and finally a jacket. It may sound like a lot but you can always remove the jacket and jumper if you’re one of those lucky people who doesn’t feel the cold. This also allows you to just wear the singlet and jacket, singlet and jumper, long-sleeve top and jacket or, if it’s tropical, the singlet on it’s own.

4. Accessories
Accessories are arguably the fun part of the whole thing. I always travel wearing a scarf and hat. Mainly so I can hide from the paparazzi, but there are other advantages as well. Firstly, a scarf can double as a blanket on planes, or ‘flying ice buckets’ as they often feel like, or even a pillow – less bony than your neighbours shoulder. Secondly, should your luggage get lost you can fashion it into a dress or sarong. The other point is, of course, it will keep you warm should your four layers not be enough. 

As for the hat, well I just love hats, but they do say the most heat escapes from your head. Also, if you want a hat at your destination, this is a great way of getting it there without squashing it in your bag. I actually wore two hats when I moved to London, one inside the other. Although I wouldn’t recommend posing as a hat smuggler, you’ll definitely get selected for additional airport security testing.

Final thought: As with the footwear, make sure you pick comfortable underwear (and a bra for females) that it isn’t falling apart, as should by some miracle the plane get overheated, you may end up delayering down to it! On a more useful note, sunglasses are almost compulsory, as it can get very bright when travelling and they also help with the aforementioned paparazzi / and any family members you want to avoid at the arrivals gate.  

What do you wear when you travel? Do you have a go-to outfit or formula? Please tell us your tips in the comments.



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    12th Mar 2016
    How about packing for a man and for sea travel. After all,it's not only women who need to be concerned about travel clothes.
    12th Mar 2016
    Thanks Mutley, for writing something I thought of the moment i realised this deceptively headlined article (clickbait?) was really only about women.
    Polly Esther
    12th Mar 2016
    yes you are right, men do need to be catered for, bless them, and this article is very unfair, after all half the population are men thank goodness.

    12th Mar 2016
    The author seems to have some obsession about planes being cold. I haven't found that. Maybe it depends where you live.

    Given that outside temperatures where planes in flight spend most of their time are typically around -40 degrees, maybe we need a discussion on the ideal interior temperature.
    12th Mar 2016
    Barak - My husband only ever wears a shirt and trousers on a plane and I inevitably have to wear a snowsuit, scarf, ski gloves etc etc. It's the male female thing.
    12th Mar 2016
    Maybe the (mostly male) pilots have control of the cabin thermostat.
    12th Mar 2016
    Good info there for women. Though I definitely disagree with the "leggings do not constitute pants" comment. There are many options for leggings that are medium or heavy weight fabric and are intended to be worn as pants. I'll be wearing some on my next flight because they are so comfortable
    12th Mar 2016
    i personally have never found the plane too cold, perhaps rather warm if anything.
    I prefer to wear a long skirt, slip on shoes, and good travelling socks. and pack the rest, depending on where i am going too. :)
    12th Mar 2016
    Layering is very much the way to go, however I would have to disagree about wearing jeans" they are very heavy when packed in a suitcase PLUS they do not dry very readily. There are so many other lighter pants to wear that can be worn both casually and dressy.
    12th Mar 2016
    Since, unlike this author, I don't have to worry about the paparazzi (?!!) & I actually enjoy being met by family, I feel I can safely ignore this rather lame advice.
    13th Mar 2016
    Congratulations. Now we know you haven't a sense of humour and tend to take things literally, please expand by giving us your clothes travelling tips. Then I can have the pleasure of adopting a superior tone and telling you whether they are lame or not.

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