How to

28 October 2016

Fending off Airport Blues - Dressing for the Destination

The well-travelled person usually comes equipped with the best gear for easy travelling, like a neck pillow with an improved design, handy bags for jewellery and toiletries, a passport wallet, and the lightest, most convenient baggage you’ve ever laid eyes on. These material items are immediately noticeable and enviable. However, have you ever taken the time to observe their attire?

Dressing for the airport is never easy. Comfort is most desirable, but there is the potential to encounter people from all around the globe. As you are automatically a representative for your city, state, country, and family in such environments, appearing presentable is very important. Not everyone believes that, as evidenced by the numerous sweatsuits you’ll see lined up at McDonalds, but keep it in mind when choosing a travel outfit.

The great thing about travelling is leaving one place behind; weather, people, location totally removed from the equation. With this welcome change of scenery comes a new set of expectations dependant on the place of arrival. You may be leaving the sunny beaches of Greece for the nippy isle of England (why would you though?) which calls for a very different wardrobe. At that, let’s talk about how to dress plane-friendly with an outfit that translates from warm to cool and back again, or gets you airport-ready for a similar climate.

Warm to Cold

It can be a bit tricky figuring out the best airplane outfit when transitioning from a balmy climate to a cold one. The most valuable thing to remember is that layering is your friend. Start out with a simple base layer: a short-sleeve shirt and trousers/leggings. Make sure to choose pieces that are lightweight. From there, pick out a few warm items that you can layer with and pack them at the top of your carry-on bag. You’ll want to be able to easily access the long-sleeve shirt, sweater/hoodie, and scarf that you’ve packed in case the airport itself proves too cold for your liking. Once you’ve landed, if you haven’t already done so during the flight, don the extra clothing in your carry-on in preparation for the new climate. Make sure to choose an appropriate coat (if necessary) and pack it with the warm layers in your carry-on. Best case scenario is a light jacket that can easily be stuffed into your bag, but if you simply must have a parka, expect to carry it through the airport. People don’t take kindly to coats occupying valuable baggage area either, so it’ll most likely be jammed next to your feet during the flight.

With the transition from warm to cold, shoes play a big role. Boots are my go-to in almost every scenario, but they can be cumbersome if you have to remove your shoes at any point. In the time before travel – security, milling about in the terminal, and boarding – boots can get hot and be uncomfortable in their rigidity. Sneakers, on the other hand, are the perfect accompaniment for travel. They are flexible, breathable, and offer good support. Wear with a pair of thick socks and you’ll be warm enough upon landing.

Cold to Warm

Going from a cold climate to a warm one is probably the most rewarding travel change. Starting off, you’ll be bogged down with layers of clothes, a coat of some sort, and maybe even a few cold-wear accessories if it’s truly miserable at your port of departure. Never fret! You’ll soon be arriving in a pleasant place of warmth where you can shed your outer layers like a cicada. This method of dress works just the opposite of warm to cold (above). The outfit you’d like to wear upon landing should be your base layer. On top of that, pile on a long-sleeve shirt and sweater/hoodie/cardigan. A scarf or hat will help stave off any residual cold in-flight or in the airport. Any coat, no matter how light, will be an annoyance to cart around. If you must, bring a very light coat or denim jacket, something that can be compressed into your bag or worn with your warm-weather outfits. This rules out bulky down coats and parkas. However, if those heavy coats are what the weather calls for, then wear it to the airport. Don’t be too sour though when you’ve been carrying a big jacket for the better part of your travel time.

When it comes to shoes, I prefer something with a sock because if you must remove your shoes during security, walking barefoot through an airport is not ideal. In this case, boots should be ruled out as you’ll soon be in a warm climate. A summer sneaker works well with most outfits and is perfect for the potentially long walk through the airport. If you prefer a nice breeze around your feet, opt for a closed shoe with no sock. Flip flops, though breezy and comfortable to some, can be chilly once you’re in-flight and are less than ideal for walking any distance.

Cold to Cold

Nothing compares to a nice warm coat when travelling from one cold climate to an equally cold one.  By all means, pack a coat but remember to keep it in your bag. Wearing a dense coat will keep you warm beyond belief, but it isn’t necessary in an airport or on a plane. Rather than stow it with you throughout your travelling adventures (making yourself miserable in the process), opt for a big sweater instead. A fleece sweater or wool poncho can be easily packed away in carry-on luggage and retrieved at the slightest hint of cold. In fact, a wool poncho is essentially a giant, wearable blanket. Choosing a more lightweight option means that you won’t be encumbered by a flappy, reflective, puffy jacket. Beneath the poncho, jeans and a couple layers on top will allow you to regulate your clothing with the temperature. Pack a scarf and hat at the top of your carry-on in case you need the extra warmth.

When it comes to shoes, boots are the obvious choice here. They trap warmth, ensuring that your feet are toasty at every point of travel, and are comfortable for walking regardless of terrain or environment. Pair them with some quality wool socks and you’re in business.

Warm to Warm

You lucky duck, you get to pack the lightest of all! Occupying the airport and flying will likely be the coldest parts of your trip. The unseasonable airport and plane can easily be combatted with a few choice articles of clothing. Regardless of the outdoor temperature, I tend to gravitate towards long-legged bottoms when flying. Leggings are lightweight and comfortable as are jeans, even if they are a bit more inflexible. On top, a tank top or short-sleeve shirt will do. If you’re feeling unsure, don’t hesitate to pack a thin scarf in your carry-on. Summer scarves can be paired with almost anything. 

Although I do prefer closed shoes anytime I’m travelling, go ahead and wear your strappy sandals to the airport. After all, you’ll be in a warm environment on both ends. 

Jacqui Litvan

Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor's degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).