How to Dress for Sleeping on the Plane: 5 Outfit Must Haves

By Mario Esposito
Last Updated: June 23, 2019

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You may think that we’re just talking to anxious travelers and insomniacs here, but think again. Even if you’re the type of person that can fall sleep anywhere, these outfit suggestions may still be helpful.

Getting to a state where you’re able to doze off on the plane is all about comfort. Who doesn’t want to be as comfortable as they can be while sitting in one spot for eight or more hours?

How to Balance Style with Comfort

First, a word of warning: Dressing for comfort isn’t the same as dressing to impress. If you’re worried about looking presentable or professional, you may want to throw on blazer.

Calvin Klein Two Button Lux Blazer

We recommend something lightweight and wrinkle-free—like the Calvin Klein Two Button Lux Blazer ($69.99 – $179.99 on Amazon) for women. You can always take you blazer off on the plane and put it back on when you land.

Haggar Clothing Tailored Fit In Motion Blazer

This advice applies to all sexes. For men, a good option would be something like the Haggar Clothing Tailored Fit In Motion Blazer ($75.52 – $174.99 on Amazon). It’s in the same price range and it is equally easy to travel with.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get right to the point: What are the elements of the perfect travel outfit for sleep? Consider our checklist below.

1. Oversize Zip-Up Hoodie

You can wear whatever’s cozy and comfy underneath. The important part is the kind of hoodie: zip-up with an oversize hood. Zip-up, because it’s easier to take off if needed: security checks, accidental spills, or abrupt changes in temperature. If you’re coming from someplace that’s not exactly known for hoodie weather, a zip-up will make it easier for you to carry the hoodie onto the plane, and then throw it on after boarding.

It’s the oversize hood that will really to help you sleep. Putting your hood up dampens noise, shields your face, and in general makes you feel like you’re insulated and apart from the rest of the plane. A bigger hood is also needed if you’re going to use headphones while sleeping.

man wearing green hoodie

Global Blank Super Soft Fleece Sweatshirt Zip Up Hoodie

Pro tip: If you’re not concerned about style, we recommend using a hoodie that’s a size up from your usual, so it’s roomier and less constricting. Check out the Global Blank Super Soft Fleece Sweatshirt Zip Up Hoodie ($34.99 – $37.99 on Amazon)! It’s affordable and also unisex.

2. Compression Tights/Leggings

Although it’s rare for healthy people to develop deep vein thrombosis (DVT), the risk is increased during long flights. If you are overweight, have recently had surgery, have a cardiovascular condition, or taking certain medication, you may be more likely to develop DVT. This is where compression wear comes in, as it aids circulation of the blood in your legs.

black compression leggings for women

CompressionZ High Waisted Leggings

We’re going to be real: Compression leggings an non-workout wear is typically more common for women. Check out these CompressionZ High Waisted Leggings ($21.99 – $29.87  on Amazon) for women—it comes in 11 different colors/styles.

Roadbox Compression Pants

It may be because there just aren’t enough attractive options for men, as compression wear for men tend to be very sporty and/or worn underneath another pair of paints. Products like the Roadbox Compression Pants ($19.99 – $26.99 on Amazon) are usually sold as something you’d wear while working out, or as a daily undergarment.

3. Compression Socks

Compression socks are more common than compression tights/leggings, simply because they’re more readily available. You can buy them sports stores, pharmacies and even gift shops at the airport. They’re also more convenient for people that wouldn’t use compression wear normally.

If you’re not physically active and in need of compression tights/leggings for better endurance and faster recovery time, you might not want to spring for a pair just for traveling. Socks, on the other hand, are more affordable and can definitely be worn under pants, whether they’re smart casual business slacks or your more comfortable pair of sweats.

black and white compression socks

Vitalsox Italy Patented Graduated Compression Circulation Socks

Something like these Vitalsox Italy Patented Graduated Compression Circulation Socks ($13.50 – $34.50 on Amazon) would be perfect for travel. They come in 19 different colors/styles, and are also moisture wicking and temperature regulating.

Should you wear compression leggings with compression socks? You can—as long as they don’t overlap. This may put undue pressure on some parts of your body, and you don’t want that. Compression wear should always be worn against the skin, snug enough to maybe leave a mark, but never so tight that it hurts to wear. Compression wear is about health and comfort, not pain.

4. Slides or Slip-Ons

If you’ve ever flown before, you know that footwear that’s easy to take off is essential! With slides or slip-ons, it’s easier and faster to go through security checks. You’ll also have no problem taking your shoes off on the plane—which sounds a tad impolite, until you feel your feet complaining hours into your flight.

black slide sandals

Crocs Baya Slide Sandal

We prefer lightweight plastic/foam slides like the unisex Crocs Baya Slide Sandal ($11.74 – $37.95 on Amazon) because they’re easy to wear with compression socks and they’re meant to be easily take on and off. They may not be the most attractive, but they’re also ideal for flying. There’s no fabric or padding for odor or sweat to cling to, so you won’t be self-conscious about taking them off before you drift off to sleep.

Bonus: If you’re the type that worries about slippery floors in hotel bathrooms, plastic/foam slides are ideal for showering and are easy to dry, too.

5. Scarf, Shawl or Wrap

Think of this component of your travel outfit as an extra layer for warmth. Shawls or wraps offer more coverage, but are not so flexible and versatile. In fact, you may find yourself putting these items in your carry-on instead of making it part of what you wear to the airport.

Waypoint Goods Travel Infinity Scarf

Waypoint Goods Travel Infinity Scarf

Our favorite option for traveling is the infinity scarf—one with a hidden pocket! Check out the Waypoint Goods Travel Infinity Scarf ($29.95 on Amazon). They’re unisex, they come in dozens of different designs, and they provide warmth along with a sense of security. Wear an infinity scarf around your neck if you’re feeling chilly, and if you’re still cold, double wrap it.