How to Walk Across Asia With One Pair of Underwear
No, this is not click bait. My friend E. actually walked across Asia with one pair of quick-dry travel panties.
Two months, four countries, endless public bus rides, blowing sand, yurt-stays, hikes over 15,000-foot passes … and one pair of underwear.
Yeah, these panties did some heavy lifting. Talk about the best travel underwear ever.
Now that may sound weird — and even a little gross — to you sitting at home with a washer and dryer in the next room. But believe me, I was on the same trip, and I’m a believer.
You see, I brought five pairs of cotton panties to Asia. And after weeks of hand washing them in the shower, drying them on the end of the bed, and putting them on wet the next morning …
I am a total convert to the one-panty packing system.
OK, maybe I’m not quite as hard core as E. I actually splurge and take two pairs for longer trips. But that’s still a lot less clothing to wash and keep track of.
Also, by finally taking the right kind of travel underwear (ahem, quick-dry fabric), I can have dry, fresh panties every day with absolutely zero dirty ones stinking up my backpack. This is great for health and comfort — and even better for morale.
So in today’s post, I’m going to introduce you to ExOfficio Give-n-Go, the best travel underwear EVAH for both men and women. And I’ll also show you how to travel comfortably for months with just one or two pairs.
Why I love ExOfficio Give-n-Go
After my trip with E., I was determined to find the best travel underwear out there. So I headed up to REI and picked up a few pairs by big brands like Patagonia.
Although a few people had mentioned ExOfficio when I told them about my travel underwear project, I put off buying a pair. They cost so much less than some of the other brands. Could they really be any good?
Well, after a few disappointments with more expensive panties, I finally broke down and gave ExOfficio a try. And I’m so glad I did!
What I love about my ExOfficio Give-n-Go underwear:
- They literally dry in 1–2 hours in dryer climates and overnight in humid climates. That’s a lot faster than other brands of travel underwear I tried.
- They’re very lightweight, yet durable. Some of the big name-pairs started to fray a bit after a few weeks of wear, but the ExOfficios are still going strong.
- My ExOfficio Give-n-Go Bikini Briefs are super comfy and breathable. They’re especially nice in tropical climates, because they keep your bum from feeling damp and clammy.
- The ExOfficio travel underwear take a long time to stink, and it’s easy to wash the odor out once it appears. That’s because they’re actually made from antimicrobial fabric that kills bacteria and smells fresh for longer.
- The price is reasonable, ranging from about $18–24 per pair for women and $20–32 for men.
How to travel for months with just 1–2 pairs of underwear
As stated above, I’m a big believer that it’s not only possible but preferable to travel with 1–2 pairs of underwear. I usually go with two so I have a backup in case one gets lost.
Here’s how it works.
How to wash travel underwear
Every night when you hop in the shower, take your underwear with you and wash it out. I like to use Sea to Summit Trek and Travel Laundry Wash for a little extra cleaning power. But shampoo will also do the trick. (It’s made to cut through the grease in your hair, so it can clean just about anything.)
Alternately, you can wash your travel underwear in the sink or a laundry tub.
If you’re new to handwashing, fold the soiled area (ahem, the crotch) and rub the two sides together. Really, it’s that simple. Be sure to rinse the underwear well to prevent skin irritation.
Then switch ’em up
If you’ve got two pairs of travel underwear, wash the first one, hang it up to dry, and put on the second pair from your pack.
Ideally, I dry my travel underwear outside on a line. (Here’s a cool travel clothesline that doesn’t require pins.) But even the end of your dorm bed will do in a pinch.
In a few hours when the first pair is dry, put them in your backpack for tomorrow. They’re nice and clean now, so they won’t stink things up.
If you’re brave and want to try the one-pair system, you have a few options:
- Go commando for a few hours each evening while your travel underwear is drying. Plan your travel clothing accordingly so no one can see through your pants or up your shorts. Guys especially should choose soft clothing that won’t chafe. Note that if you go this route, you may need to wash your pants more often.
- If you have enough privacy at night, wash your underwear right before bed and sleep naked.
- After washing your underwear, dry them with a hair dryer and put them back on. (Again, requires some privacy. Also electricity.)
Travel underwear FAQs
Some questions that come up when I describe my travel underwear system:
Are travel underwear worth the extra money?
I imagine the answer is different for everyone, but they definitely have been for me. The $18 I paid for my ExOfficio Give-n-Go panties feels like a small price to pay to have clean, fresh underwear every day without much effort.
My travel underwear also do double duty as sports underwear, because they wick away sweat and keep my bum from feeling damp. This is especially important during winter sports when wet clothing can make you cold and even hypothermic.
Should I buy a case, bag, or organizer for my travel underwear?
The beauty of traveling with 1–2 pairs of underwear is that you never have to put dirty underwear in your luggage, so there’s no need to separate it from your other clothing. I use a stuff sack to keep my (clean) underwear, socks, bras, and other small clothing together and easy to find.
What about disposable underwear?
Yes, it’s now possible to buy underwear in tiny individual packages and throw out your used pair every day.
I concede that this could be an awesome option for some people. However, I haven’t waded into this arena for a couple of reasons:
- I do a lot of hiking and walking during travel and need travel underwear that fits snugly and won’t move around.
- At $1.50 to $2 a pair, disposable travel underwear doesn’t seem cost-efficient, especially for long trips.
- Online reviews for some brands of disposable travel underwear report a strong chemical smell or skin irritation.
- A lot of the areas I travel in have issues with waste management, and I feel like anything I can do to reduce my trash output helps. Even disposable travel underwear made of cotton, which will eventually degrade, is going to need to be managed in the short-term.
If you have used disposable travel underwear, I’d love to hear your opinions, so be sure to comment below.
For a funny take on the subject, check out this blog post by Kelsey on World Hum.
Anti-theft travel underwear with hidden pockets. Worth checking out?
Again, I haven’t tried this and would love to hear from anyone with personal experience to share.
However, even if there’s a way to make this comfortable (a passport is a pretty pokey object to carry in your underwear), I can’t see it being very practical. Do you really want to reach down the front of your pants and fumble every time you need to pay for something?
If you’re concerned about keeping your money safe, I’d consider a money belt before underwear. Yes, it’s (slightly) easier for a pickpocket to get into or rip off of you than underwear. But it’s also easier for you to access and probably a lot more comfortable.
For a more positive take, check out Becky’s anti-theft underwear post at SightDoing.net. She helpfully answers many questions in the comments.
Where can I buy travel underwear?
So there you have it. All my best travel underwear recommendations and wisdom.
Enjoy, and please comment to share your own travel underwear tips!
Originally published Oct. 26, 2018.