by Connie Chen
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- Comfort is our most important consideration when choosing what to wear for a long flight or bus ride.
- We’ve developed unique “travel uniforms” of comfortable clothes, underwear, and shoes that we always wear when we travel.
- These 7 outfits feature soft, stretchy, and breathable fabrics to get us through our trips. Having a pre-planned, reliable outfit in mind also means we have one less thing to worry about as we prepare for our travels.
Whenever I see someone well-dressed at the airport, I’m impressed. More power to them (though dressing your best may not actually snag a free upgrade), but I’m just here to get through my flight and to my final destination in the most comfortable way possible.
I traveled more than ever last year, and I found myself developing a “travel uniform,” a very specific combination of clothes and shoes that have proven to be comfortable through long plane and bus rides. Now, every time I prepare for a trip, I automatically default to this outfit so I don’t have to stress over my flight survival strategy.
Many members of the Insider Picks adopt similar uniforms when traveling. If you ever run into us at the airport or bus station, this is what we’re most likely to be wearing.
Unsurprisingly, T-shirts, leggings, and sweats make the cut. Stretchy, roomy jeans are also the subject of a few love letters, and we can’t underscore the importance of comfortable underwear enough.
These 7 travel uniforms may look different, but they’re all incredibly comfortable.
Remi Rosmarin, Insider Picks reporter
1. Aviator Nation Bolt Sweatpants, $128: These are really comfortable and make it feel like you’re traveling in your pajamas, but somehow look much more put together. They might seem unnecessarily pricey for a pair of sweatpants, but they have serious longevity — the graphic stays bright and the fabric gets softer with each wash rather than fading or pilling like many other brands.
2.Madewell Whisper Cotton V-Neck Tee, $19.50: Comfort is the most important thing to me when picking out my travel outfit. This tee is lightweight, a little slouchy, and really comfortable. It’s my favorite T-shirt all around, so I usually bring one with me on trips, too.
3. Adidas Superstar Shoes, $80: When traveling, I like to wear shoes on the plane that I’ll also wear during my trip. These Adidas sneakers usually make the cut. They’re comfy enough for long walks exploring new cities, look nice with pretty much any outfit, and are easy to slip on and off in the security line, making them a no-brainer for me.
Brandt Ranj, Insider Picks associate editor
1. Mott & Bow Wooster Jeans, $118: Mott & Bow’s Wooster Jeans are hands-down the most comfortable pair I’ve ever worn, and a travel must-have. Their custom stretch technology gives the jeans enough give that I can sit for hours at a time without feeling constricted.
Buy it here: Mott & Bow
2. Cole Haan GrandPrø Stitchlite Running Sneakers, $140: I know, a running sneaker for air travel? Trust me. The same custom cushioning that makes them a great running shoe works wonders when you’re walking around airports.
Buy it here: Cole Haan
3. MeUndies Underwear, $24: MeUndies are my go-to underwear all the time, but they’re especially useful when I travel. The material feels soft on my skin, the elastic band never feels too tight, and they breathe enough that I don’t get sweaty running between terminals.
Buy it here: MeUndies
4. Nice Laundry Socks, 3 for $45: Nice Laundry’s socks are loose enough to expand if my feet swell mid-flight, and come in fun patterns so I can show off some style while I travel.
Buy it here: Nice Laundry
Ellen Hoffman, Insider Picks senior editor
1. Patagonia Organic Cotton Quilt Snap-T Pullover, $149: Patagonia can do no wrong in my book. Its classic Snap-T Pullover is ultra-soft (even after many washings) and surprisingly warm given that it’s not that thick. I never worry it will wrinkle or stretch out from too much wear either.
Buy it here: Patagonia
2. Everlane Box-Cut Pocket Tee, $16: Everlane’s T-shirts are some of our team’s favorites and they won’t set you back a lot of money, so you can stock up on these staples without hesitation. They’re a perfect base layer under my Patagonia pullover. I also really love the look and feel of Richer Poorer’s tees, but they’re double the price.
Buy it here: Everlane
3. Madewell Classic Straight Leg Jeans, $125: I like to feel somewhat put together at the airport, which is why you’ll never catch me hustling to my terminal in sweatpants. It works for some people, and that’s great, but not me. Madewell’s straight-leg jeans are still casual and amply comfy for wear on long flights since they’re not super form-fitting.
Buy it here: Madewell
4. Cuyana Mini Tassel Bag, $150: A crossbody bag is one of my travel must-haves. Cuyana’s Mini Tassel Bag is the perfect size to store all of my essentials I need easy access to (phone, keys, wallet, passport, sunglasses, lip balm), and since it’s worn across my body in a way that it couldn’t be easily grabbed or fall off my shoulder, I never worry about losing it. Everlane’s Form Bag is another recent favorite that is a bit roomier.
Buy it here: Cuyana
5. Marc Fisher Ltd Yale Chelsea Boot, $179.95: I really don’t understand why people wear high heels to the airport, but I see it more often than you’d think. I’m all about functional flats — at the airport, and for life in general. For warm weather, Soludos espadrilles offer my arches unbeatable comfort, and they look cute, too. For cold weather, I’ve never gone wrong with classic Chelsea boots; Marc Fisher LTD and Thursday Boot Co. make my most walkable pairs.
Mara Leighton, Insider Picks reporter
1. Patagonia Better Sweater Quarter-Zip Fleece, $99: Despite a desire to dress in more than just the classics, I default to Patagonia’s Better Sweater every flight. It’s the thinnest, warmest sweater I own — making it the most low-hassle for layering and cold plane cabins. It also goes with pretty much everything else you could pack, and has a small zipped pocket on the arm for keys, cards, or lip balm. All in all, it’s just the best version of what you probably need.
Buy it here: Patagonia
2. Tommy John Underwear, from $20: We’ve reviewed a lot of underwear on this team, and this is my favorite by a mile. It’s the most flattering and the most comfortable. I know the price seems ridiculous, but they’re worth it.
Buy it here: Tommy John
3. Bombas Socks, from $12: Never underestimate the power of comfortable socks. These are the best — design hacks like blister tabs and extra cushioning where you need it mean you can wait in long lines and hike a new city without feeling it in your feet first.
Buy it here: Bombas
4. Janji Feather Tee, from $32: I often strategically wear the bulky things I hate packing to the airport, but this breathable, barely-there T-shirt has enough unique detail to justify making part of my travel uniform. It’s also my go-to for runs or tricky temperature changes.
Buy it here: Janji
5. Summersalt Everywhere Pant, $80: Summersalt is better known for its swimsuits, but their brand-new travel line is worth checking out. These sleek, soft pants are the perfect travel cheat code; They’re polished, but uncompromisingly comfortable. I’ve been stopped a few times in an airport to be asked where these are from. MeUndies loungers are also good, but more casual.
Buy it here: Summersalt
Connie Chen, Insider Picks reporter
1. Stance W Primer T-Shirt, $30: $30 is more than I would usually spend on a T-shirt, but Stance’s has proved its worth and become one of my all-time favorites. Bus and airplane temperatures are often subject to change quickly, which is why I especially value its breathability. Though the shape is relaxed and just roomy enough, it’s not so relaxed that it loses its shape after multiple washes.
Get it here: Stance
2. Athleta Underwear, $16: I concur with Mara’s statement that Tommy John’s underwear is amazing. My other standby is Athleta’s, which come in three varieties for three different purposes and activities. The textured, lightweight Natura style works nicely for any type of commute since you won’t be moving around too much.
Get it here: Athleta
3. Athleta Elation 7/8 Tight, from $66.99: I always look forward to putting these buttery soft and stretchy leggings on before my flight. The compressive Powervita fabric that makes them good for yoga poses converts well to high-altitude cruising with meditative calm. The waistband is thick and supportive, but doesn’t squeeze you as you spend the majority of your time sitting down.
Get it here: Athleta
4. Allbirds Wool Runners, $95: These flexible and forgiving wool sneakers are a bundle of warmth and comfort. Traditional sneakers feel too structured and restrictive, while flats force me to go barefoot on the dirty floor of the security line — so Allbirds’ cushioned yet supportive shoes it is.
Get it here: Allbirds
Grace High, Insider Picks analyst
1. Varley Clement Sweater, $128: Varley’s athleisure sweaters are perfect for traveling because they’re warm and oversized with cute detailing (gold zippers, thumb holes), but made of washable cotton. This sweater is great if you’re switching temperatures. I would wear a tank underneath for an extra layer of warmth.
Buy it here: Bloomingdale’s
2. Cole Haan Hemlock Motorcycle Boots, from $137.59: These are the boots I wear at least three times per week. I love these Cole Haan boots. They’re comfortable, attractive (especially for the price), and so functional. They look great with leggings on the plane or with tights and a dress when you arrive at your destination.
Buy it here: Cole Haan
3. Lululemon Align Pant, $98: These are the best leggings I’ve tried in terms of combining fashion and function, and they’re more comfortable than some of Lululemon’s other models. I like the 28-inch inseam as I find their other styles run very, very long. Sizing is a bit snug, so if you’re between sizes, size up.
Buy it here: Lululemon
4. Longchamp Large Le Pliage Tote, $145: I love this zippable Longchamp tote so much that I have it in two colors. It’s simple, fits under a plane seat, the plastic-lined interior is so easily cleaned, and it zips so nothing falls out. It’s also a lot lighter than leather bags, which is great when you’re traveling with heavy things.
Owen Burke, Insider Picks guides reporter
1. Faherty Shirt Jacket, from $74: For a top layer, I’ll choose either a soft hoodie like Buck Mason’s Brushed Loopback hoodie or a brushed cotton shirt jacket (“shirt jack” or “shacket” if you like), like this one from Faherty, or a Transitional Flannel from Outerknown (if anyone knows how to travel, it’s Outerknown founder Kelly Slater). Essentially, anything that’s soft and comfortable enough to double as a makeshift blanket or pillow will do for me.
Buy it here: Faherty
2.DSTLD Skinny Slim Jeans, $7 5: I’ll almost always wear jeans on the plane, but I’ll veer away from donning my tightest or most rigged raw denim and choose a pair from DSTLD, which are made with just enough elastane so I don’t feel too constricted. I live in jeans, even in the doldrums of summer (unless I’m swimming), and apart from the few times I’ve seen the inside of a gym, I won’t wear sweatpants out of the house.
Buy it here: DSTLD
3. J.Crew Tee, from $19.50: For casual travel, I tend to grab a soft cotton T-shirt from J. Crew. They’re comfortable, lightweight, and make a good base layer.
Buy it here: J.Crew
4. Onia Abe Shirt, $135: If I’m traveling under more formal circumstances, a linen Oxford from Onia is a favorite, which I’ll wear underneath a blazer (I go for a plain one from J. Crew when they’re on sale).
Buy it here: Onia
5. Sperry Original Leather Boat Shoe, $94.95: My travel shoes are about the only shoes I’m willing to wear anywhere, if and when I must wear shoes. Sperry Topsiders are unbearably cliched for some, and I understand, but they’re still the simplest and most comfortable widely available piece of footwear I’ve encountered. They’re easy to slip on and off and get through security, even when your feet are swollen from flying.
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