Getting dressed for long-haul flights: a refresher

Australians are in full flight as international travel returns, and unless you’re a Kardashian with a private jet at your disposal, any kind of international trip will inevitably leave you at the mercy of a commercial aircraft.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 176,000 departures from our shores this past February, a number projected to grow to at least 339,000 in March pending data confirmation. But now that long-haul flights are back, have we forgotten how to travel?

From a ‘no-iron’ rule to loading up on scarves and accessories, two veteran travellers reveal their luggage essentials. Credit:iStock

The art of travel – what to wear, eat, pack – has long been a fascination of our culture. Photographs of celebrities at the airport is basically its own subgenre of art while internet sleuths scramble to identify their various outfits. Writer Joan Didion’s infamous packing list from 1979’s The White Album has become the blueprint for aspiring It girls on the move. A mohair throw, nightgown, cigarettes, legal pad, typewriter and bottle of bourbon are amongst the late writer’s essential items. A skirt, leotard and stockings comprised her uniform for both the flight and the destination.

After almost three years in track pants, stockings are likely low on the list for most eager passengers including environmentalist and former Survivor contestant Laura Wells.

“I’m more of tracksuit and t-shirt kinda girl,” she says, adding “and it’s usually a t-shirt with an environmental message.” In the air, she is constantly “moisturising and spritzing” to keep her skin hydrated throughout the flight.

Her other travel essentials include a reusable cup, coffee mug, and cutlery set. The goal, she says, is to “limit single us plastic as much as possible on board”.

Wells also recommends packing cubes, which she says are the best way to wrangle odd shapes like “snorkels” and “hiking boots” into a suitcase. She has a strict no-iron rule for the clothing she packs, so anything that creases easily is a no-go. Her top tip? If you’re off adventuring and have limited space, pack patterned clothing. It’s far easier to re-wear and makes stains and dirt less visible.

Sarah Doyle and husband Elvis Abrahanowicz are responsible for some of the Sydney’s best restaurants including Continental Deli, Porteño and Stanbuli. Pre-kids, each year they would travel to the rockabilly festival “Viva Las Vegas” in Las Vegas.

“It was the kind of thing where people would spend all year planning out their outfits for each day of the festival,” says Doyle, the owner of an enviable collection of vintage frocks. “I would wear my best dress on the plane in the hopes of getting an upgrade. I never got one.”

For Doyle, there’s little divide between what she wears on the ground and in the air. “I still like to show off my style when I’m flying. It’s not about dressing for other people, it’s about feeling like myself.”

Hair and make-up gets the same treatment. She’ll pack a scarf to wrap her hair in during the flight to keep it fresh.

When it comes to packing dresses and skirts, Sarah pre-irons everything. “Anything with pleats, I’d make sure to set with the iron. This makes everything much easier once you unpack – a quick steam through is all you need.”

She makes sure to pack lots of scarves and accessories, as they’re “the easiest way to change up a look.”

Luggage upgrade

AIDAN The Signature Series “M” Case; Tuplus Line S carry-on case; Floyd check-in suitcase; Horizn Studios “Circle One” suitcase; Monos “Carry-on Pro Plus”.

The luggage brands to know


The founders of Floyd are bringing the hedonism and free-spirit of ’70s skate culture to the world of travel. Awash in retro-inspired colours, their cases are fitted with the same polyurethane wheels on skateboards for a silent roll and to withstand heavy-duty use. (The cases are also supposedly tested on half pipes around the world for durability). And if you get bored, their wheels can be purchased separately and easily swapped out – try glow in the dark or pink glitter.


Tuplus suitcases tick two important boxes – durability and attractive design. The range of hard shell cases come in a variety of sizes for carry-on or check-in, and in fun colours like canary yellow or mint green. The hassle of zippers is also replaced by a sleek, advanced lock system.

Horizn Studios

Horizn Studios’ “Circle One” range claims to be the most sustainable luggage in the world. Cases are made in Europe from BioX, 100 per cent plant-based material that’s lighter, yet just as durable as aluminium, whilst zippers are made from recycled material. Their core range is just as innovative, giving customers the flexibility of customising their luggage – choose everything from the colour of the shell right down to the wheels and handle. 


Founded during the pandemic by entrepreneur Aidan Walsh, AIDAN is a luggage brand hailing from Australia. Eschewing the pressure of seasonal collections, the brand’s offerings are minimal yet considered (not to mention well-priced). Their signature hard-shell case is available in two sizes, and in a smart all black look.


There’s nothing worse than remembering mid-flight that an essential item is tucked deep away in your carry-on suitcase and having to rifle through intimates for all to see. Mono’s “Carry-on pro” range offers an easy solution. Each case features a built-in front compartment to keep important items on hand. The zippered pocket fits a 15″ laptop and is reinforced with aerospace grade polycarbonate to keep everything safe and sound.

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