Craving a getaway? Traveling is a great way to take care of your mental health. But travelers often forget to take care of their physical health, too, especially on those extended airplane rides. No worries, we’ve got you covered!
A long time confined to your seat on an airplane, car, bus, or train can take a toll on your body. Luckily, the right pair of compression socks for travel can keep your blood flowing so that you stay comfortable and feel 100% once you reach your destination. They can also help prevent medical complications during travel like blood clots.1
We’ll help you choose the best graduated compression socks for your trip so you arrive refreshed and ready to get your adventure on.
How Do Travel Compression Socks Work?
Graduated compression socks add gentle compression at all the right points, like your toes, ankles, and calves. They direct blood flow back up to the heart, lending a helping hand, so the heart doesn’t have to work so hard. Blood returns to the heart, where it can be re-oxygenated and sent back out to fuel your muscles and tissue.
By improving blood circulation, compression socks reduce swelling, aid in muscle recovery, and fight fatigue. These factors work together, boosting performance while helping you feel fantastic. Great for running, exercise, long shifts on your feet, and long-distance travel.
Why Should You Wear Compression Socks When Flying?
There’s a reason why pilots, flight attendants, and frequent fliers alike endorse PRO Compression socks when flying. Sure they're comfortable and they look great with any outfit, but the bottom line is that they work! The benefits of compression socks for travel are trifold:
Compression Socks Reduce Swelling
Have you ever noticed that your legs are achy, and your ankles are swollen to twice their normal size after a long flight? For most, this is the likeliest side-effect of travel.
When we sit for long periods - on an airplane, for example - fluid tends to pool up in our lower extremities (thanks, gravity!). This can result in swelling in your feet, ankles, and legs, also referred to as gravitational edema.2
Since you have limited opportunities to stand up, walk, and stretch on an airplane, PRO compression socks help by applying external pressure to simulate calf flexion. This encourages blood flow while preventing stagnation.
Compression Socks Stave Off Fatigue
If you’re touring the streets of Rome or hiking the Great Wall of China, you want your legs to be in their best form for many miles of walking. But if you have trouble making it to the baggage claim because your calves are cramping, PRO compression socks will come to the rescue.
Graduated compression socks help you to stay more active by supporting crucial muscles and tendons. This fights off muscle soreness and fatigue keeping you fresh and energized for the duration of your trip.
Compression Socks Help Prevent Varicose Veins
Varicose veins form when the valves in your veins are weakened or damaged by increased blood pressure. When we sit or stand for long periods (again, like on an airplane), blood pools in the veins, increasing pressure and potentially causing damage. Compression socks can help prevent the development of varicose veins and spider veins by promoting better blood flow. They add the pressure that boosts blood back up.
Varicose veins are uncomfortable, and cosmetically they can make bikini or short season a bit awkward. Even if you’re active and healthy now, wearing compression socks during travel can prevent unsightly veins in the future (an ounce of prevention as the saying goes). After all, you don't want anything preventing you from wearing shorts on your sunny vacation.
Compression Socks Protect Against Blood Clots
Blood clots in the legs and feet are often caused by slow blood flow that causes the blood to clog up, or clot. Why? You guessed it. Because blood circulation slows down during long periods of inactivity. It tends to back up like a traffic jam and pool in your lower extremities.
Though low for most people, the risk of developing blood clots increases with travel time, especially during those long international flights. For trips over four hours, doctors recommend graduated compression socks to prevent fluid from pooling in the lower extremities.3
While flight compression socks are a good idea for anyone, they’re a must-have if you’re prone to deep vein thrombosis or DVT for short.4 Factors that put you at higher risk of developing a blood clot include age, obesity, pregnancy, COVID-19, family history of DVT and other conditions, smoking, stroke, and untreated varicose veins.
What to Look for In Travel Compression Socks
While we think most compression socks can make you feel great and perform at your peak, there are some qualities to look for when choosing the best compression socks for travel.
You’re going to be wearing them for a long time, so choose comfortable compression socks. Compression socks are supposed to be tight; that’s how they promote circulation. But if your socks are so tight they’re uncomfortable or restricting blood flow they may be too small.
Our strong recommendation is to measure your calves to ensure the proper sizing so that you receive all the benefits of compression socks for travel.
Compression Ratings for Socks
Our compression socks aren’t “one compression fits all.” Different levels of compression, measured in mmHg, are appropriate for different activities. It's generally accepted that 20-30 mmHg is the ideal compression level for travel. This mid-level of compression is comfortable enough for everyday wear and applies proper pressure that helps with swelling and leg fatigue.
Because we know everyone has different styles and comfort preferences, we make a variety of socks rated from as low as 10 mmHg up to 35 mmHg, including socks for dress, cozy comfort, and ultra recovery. Since comfort can be subjective, we suggest trying varying degrees of compression to find your sweet spot.
For that long flight across the ocean, you want a pair of compression socks that are lightweight, soft, breathable, and will keep their shape no matter how long you’re sitting. After years of perfecting the formula, we’ve come up with just the right blend of moisture-wicking poly-nylon fabric. Our socks have a roomy toebox and cushioning foot padding that makes them oh so comfy for any long trip.
Keep it Fresh with Stylish Looks
Functionally, compression socks provide benefits regardless of what they look like. Still, there is no reason you cannot feel great and look good while doing it. Our approach has always been to offer our customers the perfect blend of form and function by offering hundreds of colors and designs while never compromising the quality or performance of our socks.
No matter your destination or style preferences, we're confident that you'll be able to find the perfect design in our massive collection of compression socks to compliment your unique fashion sense.
Our Best Compression Socks for Travel
For the Traditional: Marathon Black
Whether you’re the pilot or a vacation-goer, you can’t go wrong with our classic black over-the-calf compression socks. Perennially the best selling sock in our collection, these Marathon knee-highs socks go with any outfit and are the perfect travel companion. The 20-30 mmHg compression rating gives the ideal pressure to keep blood pumping without being uncomfortably restricting during that long flight. Available in both standard and wide-calf sizes.
For the Adventurous: Marathon Popsicle
Ready to get into the vacation spirit? What could be better than the colorful pop of these knee-high Marathon socks to make a statement on the plane? And even though these, and all of our other boldly designed over-the-calf socks, have a unique look, they don’t sacrifice any attention to compression comfort. With 20-30 mmHg compression rating and moisture-wicking material make them ideal for travel. Available in both standard and wide-calf sizes.
For the Eco-Conscious: Marathon Upcycle
These knee-high Marathon socks are made with upcycled cotton and recycled plastic water bottles (RPET), so you can feel just as good about your contribution to the planet as you do about the relief these socks provide that reduce and help prevent swelling. This soft and breathable cotton, nylon, and spandex blend feels great against your skin during a long trip while providing the sweet spot of 20-30 mmHg of graduated compression. In a classic slate grey color, these socks will go great with your business suit or casual vacation outfits.
For the Business Traveler: PC Dress Socks
The perfect combination of comfort and class, these knee-high dress socks will promote healthy circulation while you travel to that out-of-state meeting (whether you’ve sprung for business class or not). PRO Compression travel dress feature a lighter grade of compression at 10-20 mmHg, which is great for all-day wear while still providing the benefits of compression socks during travel. And did we mention that there are dozens of designs to choose from? With these stylish socks, you’ll hop off the plane refreshed and ready for business.
Nurse-inspired Designs: Compression Socks for Nurses
There’s a reason why flight nurses love our most popular compression sock. These essential over-the-calf compression socks offers 20-30mmHg of true graduated compression that enables you to perform at your peak while you care for your airborne patients. These blood-flow-boosting socks help fight fatigue and prevent swelling, whether you’re on your feet for 12-hour shifts or in your seat traveling to and from hospitals.
For Getting Cozy: Cozy Feather Compression Socks
Let’s face it; you’re going to be on this flight overnight, so you might as well slip into your most comfy, cozy attire. Feel like your feet are wrapped up in a warm hug all the way to touchdown with the Cozy Feather Compression socks. Ultra-thick, soft, fuzzy, and with just the right touch of compression, these feather-light socks are the perfect way to pamper yourself on a long trip. A reinforced toe and heel box increase durability for everyday wear.
For Extra Support: Recovery Marathon Collection
Our strongest compression comes in the form of the ultimate Recovery Sock with a compression rating of 25-35 mmHg to give your blood flow an extra boost. If you’re at risk for blood clots, have trouble with swelling after sitting for long periods, or just like some extra compression to keep your circulation pumping, these are the socks for you. We do recommend that you check with your doctor to ensure that wearing these high-compression socks won't be an issue for you.
Happy Feet = Happy Travels
Doctors, nurses, and orthopedic specialists recommend people with existing health conditions like pregnancy, varicose veins, and a history of DVT wear compression socks when traveling.5 But anyone can conquer long-distance travel like a pro by donning a pair of compression socks. As always, we recommend you check with your doctor with any questions or concerns about using compression socks while traveling.
If you’re not yet a fan of wearing compression socks full-time, the best time to put on your compression socks is right before you board the plane. Knee-high compression socks can be tricky to don - especially in cramped airplane seats - so practice a couple of times before your trip. Check out our PRO Tips Page for sizing and care guides!
Pack a few pairs of compression socks with your luggage or toss a pair in your carry - on and say au revoir to achy, tired, swollen legs - your body will thank you!
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 9). Blood clots and travel: What you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved July 21, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/dvt/travel.html
- Edema: Causes, symptoms & treatment. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12564-edema
- InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. What are blood clots and what causes them? 2013 Nov 5 [Updated 2016 Dec 27]. Retrieved July 21, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279383/
- Clarke, M. J., Broderick, C., Hopewell, S., Juszczak, E., & Eisinga, A. (2016, September 14). Compression stockings for preventing deep vein thrombosis in airline passengers. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews. Retrieved July 21, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6457834/
- Sachdeva, A., Dalton, M., & Lees, T. (2018, November 3). Graduated compression stockings for prevention of deep vein thrombosis. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews. Retrieved July 21, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6477662/