What to Wear on Your Maui Flight…And What NOT to Wear!

Planning a trip to Maui is exciting. You can’t wait to be in the sun and enjoy the beautiful sights.

There’s just one tiny problem: What the heck are you going to wear on the flight?

The Basics

Child sitting next to his mother on a plane gives the thumbs up to the camera.

Many of us hail from colder climates and plan trips to Maui in the winter. That adds an extra element of trickiness to dressing appropriately when boarding the plane in a snowy location and transitioning to a sunny one. 

In essence, there are some core things to remember. One is to keep it comfortable. It’s not necessary to dress for Fashion Week, especially when you’re going somewhere as laid back as Hawaii.  

Another is to be ready to pull a quick change, whether you’re changing in the Maui airport bathroom or layering your tropical attire underneath some outer layers. 

Lastly, be ready to look like a natural in Maui. Avoid all the stereotypes that make you stick out like a sore thumb. Hawaiian daily attire is all about casual comfort and enjoying life. 

With that, here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know about flight attire for your trip to Maui.

Comfort is Key

This goes for any plane ride, whether it’s 2 hours or 10. But it definitely stands true for those longer flights, like ones to Maui from colder locales. 

What you don’t want to do is wear something restrictive and uncomfortable, like jeans. You’ll be sitting for a while in a small space, so something with stretch is ideal. Plus, stretchy will be more comfortable for you to nap if you get sleepy. 

Think sweatpants, yoga pants, sweatshirts, etc. Athleisure is a thing now, so if you’re worried about looking like a scrub, don’t! Plenty of people will be wearing the same, and you can still look chic in your comfy clothes.

The Dual Climate Challenge

So you’re flying from somewhere snowy and cold to a climate that’s sunny and warm. How do you dress to leave from one location and end up at another where the weather is so different? 

Before you set out on your trip, take note of the season and look up recent temperatures in Maui so you know what to expect and aren’t over or underdressed. 

Then, take advantage of your carry on.

Get Creative with Your Carry On

Most airlines let you bring one carry on for free. However, if you’re in a non-priority boarding group and are worried about the plane running out of overhead cabin space, opt for a small duffel bag or some sort of tote bag or backpack. That way, you can easily fit your bag underneath the seat in front of you. 

This way, you also don’t have to worry about your carry on and change of clothes potentially having to go in the cargo hold if the plane runs out of carry on space before you’re able to snag a spot.

In your carry on, pack things like sandals, shorts, and a t-shirt. You can easily change into these items in the airport bathroom at your destination before going out into the Maui sun. 

Save Space by Layering Up

If, for some reason, you can’t fit a change of clothes into your carry on or would rather use that space for something else, you can layer them underneath what you’re already wearing. For example, shorts underneath sweats, a t-shirt underneath a sweatshirt and jacket, etc.

If you go with this method, stow an empty drawstring bag or other bag that will virtually take up no space in your carry on and then use it to store your outer layers in Hawaii. Once you’re off the plane, you won’t have to worry about bag limits so you can carry the extra bag with you.

As far as shoes go it may not be ideal to wear sandals. Your feet will get cold. If you are one of those people looking to layer up and save on carry on space, you can opt for some Tevas or similar sandals paired with socks that you can remove once you land. 

Be sure to remove your socks if you’re wearing sandals on the plane. We’ll tell you why later in this post.

Leave Something Behind

Lastly, it’s a good idea to store your heavier winter attire in your car at the airport, so you have it when you come back from your trip.

This way, you can avoid bringing unnecessary bulk with you on the plane. You can also throw some blankets in the backseat, just in case. 

Staying Warm on a Cold Plane with Minimal Bulk

One thing you probably don’t want to do is lug a heavy coat to Maui with you. All it will do for the most part is get in your way. So how can you be sure you’re staying warm in a chilly plane cabin until you arrive in warmer weather?

When boarding your flight to Maui in your cold homeland, you can opt to wear a down jacket for warmth. Down jackets tend to squish easily into a Ziploc bag when you arrive in Hawaii and won’t take up too much space and will also be useful on your way back home. 

Plus, if you’re planning to hike up Haleakala in Maui, you may even need that jacket for that.

Another option to consider if you don’t already have something similar or are willing to make the investment is heated apparel. We live in a modern age of technology and have the wonderful invention of battery powered heated clothing. It’s like an electric blanket you wear. 

Most batteries for items like heated jackets have several hours of warmth on a single charge and are TSA-friendly. Heated apparel also helps eliminate the need for bulky layers and can ultimately help you save space while staying warm.

How Not to Be Hot When You Arrive

Like mentioned above, it’s important to have some sort of change of clothes for when you arrive. Chances are, you’ll immediately feel the temperature difference as you’re exiting the plane. 

Change in the airport bathroom if you chose the option to stow warm weather clothes in your carry on. Don’t worry, everyone does it! 

If you chose the layering method you don’t technically have to change in the bathroom. You can just remove your over-layers and be on your way. 

It’s also a good idea to have sunglasses, a hat, and maybe even some sunscreen at-the-ready. The Maui sun waits for no one! 

Look Like a Natural

If you’re worried about looking out-of-place when you arrive, that’s normal! 

As a general rule of thumb, keep it casual. Hawaiians like to wear loose pants or shorts, sports team shirts or jerseys, and sandals (which the locals call slippers, by the way). The t-shirt and shorts life is the norm here.

What Not to Wear

That said, here are some attire choices that immediately peg you as a tourist:

  • Walking around with leis on.
  • Neon or brightly colored “aloha” shirts from kitsch shops on the mainland.
  • A camera slung around your neck or taking photos constantly.
  • Matching “aloha” outfits with your partner or family.
  • Wearing socks with sandals.
  • Speedos.

What to Do Instead

And here’s how you can blend in more:

  • “Aloha” shirts are fine if in a more muted color scheme and less like a caricature.
  • If you’re taking photos, treat it more as if photography is your hobby and remember to slow down and enjoy the views with your eyes and not through a screen.
  • It’s sunny in Maui and nothing makes you stand out more as a tourist than a bad sunburn or tan lines. Wear appropriate sun protection.
  • In Europe, Speedos are welcomed. In Maui, not so much. Stick to board shorts.

Some clothing brands to consider that do a great job of embodying the true Hawaiian vibe are Tommy Bahama, Quicksilver, and Tori Richard. That doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy new things if you don’t want to. Use these brands as inspiration to choose from what you already have.


The most important thing to remember when trying to blend in with Maui locals is to embody the laid back spirit most of them carry. Slow down, enjoy life, and keep things casual. 

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