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Do I really need to buy wrinkle free and fast drying clothing?

My wife and I are starting to think of items to pack for the 21 Day tour.

Some people say to buy wrinkle free clothing like ExOfficio.

I don't want to spend $40 per shirt like this. Do I really need to take wrinkle free and fast drying shirts on this trip? Or, can I just get away with 2-3 nice Polo shirts and regular cotton dress shirts and be fine?

Posted by
994 posts

Are you planning on visiting laundromats or washing your clothes in sinks? If you will be visiting laundromats, you should be okay with almost anything. If you are doing sink washing, all cotton clothes can take a long time to dry. I find any blend material clothes ( part cotton and part synthetic material) are usually okay and dry fast enough. It doesn't have to be expensive special travel clothes. I have bought tops at discount stores that dry well. I also try to get blend material pants, but I still usually try not to wash my clothes in the sink the day before a travel day, because there is a good chance my pants at least will still be damp.

Posted by
28 posts

most of the places we stay on the trip are average 2 days. is that long enough for blended clothing to dry?

also, does the blended clothing breathe easily? or will it feel hotter (something i read about synthetic materials)

Posted by
14250 posts

I did go with the quick dry Ex Officio underwear this time which has worked well. However all my shirts are Lands End cotton/rayon/spandex blend Tees. They mostly dry in 24 hours. My pants are LLBean cotton with some spandex which also dry in 24-36 hours. I've traveled with this clothing for nearly 4 weeks and have just done sink washes and have only had to pack with a slightly damp shirt once.

I suggest you try a sink wash at home on clothing that is trying out for the team and see how long it takes to dry.

Posted by
994 posts

Trying ahead of time to see how fast things dry is a good idea. You can try to wash clothes on the first day in each place. My shirts usually dry pretty well overnight, but the pants are sometimes still damp, especially at the thicker parts by the waist. After a 2nd night, they are usually good to go. For me, I feel comfortable in blends. Complete synthetics are sometimes less breathable feeling to me.

Posted by
7075 posts

If things don't dry completely overnight, then a hairdryer (if available) works well to get small damp parts dry in a hurry. I've used that when the pockets/crotch/waistband of pants don't get totally dry. I don't like sink washing a lot, except for underwear. I pack for 5-7 days and try to schedule a laundromat visit once a week.

Posted by
5687 posts

I have no special travel clothes. I just bring things from my current wardrobe that don't need to be pressed and I do laundry on the first day of a multi-night stop so that they have 2 nights to dry.

Posted by
8239 posts

When I travel, I take 5 polo shirts 2 pairs of jeans and 1 pair of khaki pants. And the jeans and khaki's get heavily starched. As long as they don't get soiled, I can wear the pants day after day and they still look fresh.

I usually don't even wear half what I take in a 22" rolling bag.

Posted by
3821 posts

Since you asked, 2-3 nice Polo shirts and regular cotton dress shirts will be fine. There is no need to incur the extra expense of buying new clothes.

Look at the fabric content label in your cotton dress shirts. You probably have some that are 100% cotton which will wrinkle like crazy in your suitcase. Keep looking at your shirt labels. You will find some of your shirts are a blend, mostly cotton, but some synthetic added in to reduce wrinkling. Some will say 80% cotton, 20% polyester. Those are the ones to take. The synthetic content is added to men's and women's shirts to reduce or eliminate wrinkling.

With knit polo shirts 100% cotton is fine, of course, because the wrinkles will fall out when you hang them up or put them on.

Posted by
698 posts

You can probably get away with whatever shirts you'd prefer. If you do send your laundry out to be done while on tour (often the easiest option) be aware that it might not come back folded well (if at all), so you might want to stay away from anything that could wrinkle easily. I second the advice on ex officio underwear, as well as blended (not all cotton) socks, because they do dry super fast.

If you are scheduled to go on the tour this fall, it will take clothes longer to dry than it would have on hot summer days. I recommend considering shelling out the money for at least one pair of light weight travel pants (which you can get at any outdoors store). Not only do they weigh virtually nothing and take up a fraction of the space in your suitcase, they are also way better than jeans because if you get caught in a bad rainstorm they dry super fast (jeans can take forever to dry). Plus, if you get them muddy (or worse...we were hiking through a cow pasture in Switzerland, and there was one section of the trail that was pure muck), they are super easy to hose down.

Posted by
19170 posts

I spent the money for quick drying underwear. My briefs are Duofold (95% polyester, 5% Spandex). Not sure what my socks are, but they are also quick drying. I hang them separately on drip-dry clothes pins from the towel rack and they are always dry in the morning (rinse in very hot water and squeeze out excess in a towel).

My shirts are just Target or Walmart cotton/polyester blend golf shirts. I use inflatable hangers (to keep the sides apart) and hang them in the closet. I've had no problem with clothes not drying, even in humid Germany.

Posted by
1194 posts

Most of today's clothing is easy care, so if you take that you should be OK.

The longer the trip the more you want to bring easy care clothing because the maintenance of clothing affects you more. There won't be any irons in your hotel room so if you take cotton and wrinkle prone clothing you'll look rumpled. Do the cotton dress shirts have an easy care label? then yes. If not, you may want to reconsider.

Now for my pet peeve - equating travel clothing with the jungle look. No, no, no! It is entirely possible to buy that way, but most travel clothing looks perfectly normal. I have a white Royal Robbins 3/4 sleeve shirt with a princess cut that looks tailored. But I can sink wash it and it will be dry in a few hours. The same for my dark tan or black Royal Robbins pants. they fit well and you can't tell that it is a travel pant. And yes, it was worth every penny because it lasts year and years. On top of that it is lighter and less bulky than other clothing. I like to wear it hiking because it withstands the elements so much better than other clothing, but looks good after the fact.

I also hear that travel clothing holds odors. The old style certainly did. Less so the newer materials.

If you don't want to spend the money you still have many choices. Go for the Champion C4 golf clothing from Target. Shop Sierra Trading post.

I personally combine clothing for long trips. At least one travel pants and travel shirt, as well as a knit dress. My other clothing is easy care items that are normal - a couple of knit shells, 1-2 merino cardigan, a knit tee, and a 2nd pair of pants.

Posted by
1922 posts

It isn't about buying "travel clothes" or spending a lot of money, it is about the fabric. I bought several shirts at Target for $10 each that are made of rayon. Others I got cheap are a blend of polyester. They wash easy, dry fast and don't wrinkle much.

Years ago my daughter insisted on wearing cotton socks since they were thicker and she has foot problems. Big mistake! We were in Italy during the summer, we hand washed, but had no place to hang them outside, and they took days to dry. I'm talking about ankle high socks so they were not big. And, we were in a warm climate! So, if you will need to wash, you want to have things dry overnight or within a day or two.

Posted by
11613 posts

I like cotton and linen, and I often sinkwash these items as soon as I check in. I hang them soaking wet in the bathroom and that usually takes out most wrinkles and dry within 36 hours. If I sinkwash something that I need the next day, I blot it with a towel before I hang it to dry. Moving things from the humid bathtub/shower to a place near a window (only after the items no longer drip water) helps.

I would never pay $40 for underwear unless I were rafting the Amazon, then drying clothes would be the least of my issues.

Posted by
4174 posts

You will be moving around a lot on the tour, so you may need to do some sink washing. All the suggestions people have made about that are good ones, as are the ones about taking things that have blended fiber content instead of 100% cotton.

If you do end up somewhere with enough time, I highly recommend doing a couple of loads at a laundromat yourself, just for the experience of it. You may also be able to find a place that will do the laundry for you. If you do that, you need to understand what my husband and I call "European dry."

We've had laundry done for us in several locations in several countries and it has never been as dry as when we do it. We have adapted to slightly damp waistbands and pockets, and you know what? It does finish drying on our bodies or in our bags or when we hang it up at the next lodging. That goes for anything we wash in the sink as well.

Most of what we take is not special "travel" clothes but rather our normal clothes which typically are not 100% cotton because cotton does not wick away moisture when we sweat. My husband wore polypropylene socks instead of cotton for years because of their greater comfort level. Now by doctor's orders he must wear compression socks, all of which wick away moisture and keep his feet warm and dry.

As far as "fast drying" goes, we have found that some things touted as special travel clothes and as fast-drying don't dry as fast as some of our regular clothes. So if you have time to experiment at home before you go, be sure to do that. It is especially true of our underwear. My supposedly fast-drying panties take a much longer time than his ordinary, typical brand, polyester and cotton blend knit boxers.

Posted by
1503 posts

For our first big trip I bought my husband some expensive microfiber underwear (he used to wear tidy whities). He has worn nothing but the microfiber type underwear since - at home or on the road. A few years later I bought some replacement underwear at Walmart which are just as comfortable and dry just as quickly. We have bought some "travel" clothing over the years, but mostly take what we wear normally at home, and mostly do our washing in the sink. BTW I have noticed several places with travel clothes on clearance right now as it is the end of the season.

Posted by
1081 posts

I would recommend the ExOfficio Underwear, they are the best for travel, long lasting, easy to wash in a sink and dry very quickly. For the rest of your clothes it is up to you, I like to take non-cotton synthetic clothes because they are easy to wash and dry quickly and I don't like looking for a laudrymat while I travel. By using nylon/polyester clothes I can take 3 pairs of underwear, 2 pants and 4 shirts and I could stay in Europe for a month and have fresh clothes all the time. I also take synthetic material socks but lately I've tried merino wool socks and I find they work just as well and dry almost as quickly as the nylon/polyester.

Synthetic material clothes pack easier (less bulk) and are more stain resistant than cotton, they wick mositure better and some even are treated to repeal insects and odors.

Posted by
339 posts

Another vote for Sierra Trading Post. If you register online they send you a different coupon every day. They have close outs for all kinds of clothes and gear. i got my husband lightweight quick dry shirts (ex officio, Royal Robbins,Columbia) for less than $20 and they also have hidden zipper pockets. He really likes them and they don't look like he is going on safari. They dry overnight and are comfortable. I also shop for shoes there.

Posted by
2081 posts

Hockmasm,

I will add a cavet. IF THIS IS THIS YOU ONLY TRIP, then forget about buying anything special.

However, if you are going to do more traveling, THEN HELL YES, DONT BE A TIGHT WAD AND INVEST in some "travel" clothes.!!!!

Im going on my 4th day without most of the clothes i brought/bought.

I recently bought some replacements pants, shirt, sox and underware. Just enough to get me by without having to do the wash everynight. Just be happy you can buy those ExO pants for 40 USD. I would be more than happy to pay that much. Those ExO pants and alot of US goods are way more expensive here!!!!

The laundrymat in prage gave my clothes to someone else and i wasnt able to stick around for them to show up if at all.

I was leaving the next day and spent much of the following DAYS looking for some replacements. Looking for clothes wasnt my idea of a vacation!

In the mean time. Guess what i was wearing. Just the clothes on my back!!!!

luckly, i had bought and tried some marino wool underware and sox. Those were washed in the sink every night and were dry or dry enough to wear the next day. The pants and shirt are quick drying/moisture wicking and were washed on every third day. They would be dry in the am.

You may THINK that they arent needed until you do. But again, if this is your one and only trip...

Happy trails

Posted by
1221 posts

The Clymb and Left Lane Sports are other clearance activewear sites that are generally pretty reliable and sometimes cheaper than Sierra Trading Post. They're also a good source for luggage and travel bags- lots of Eagle Creek, Timbuk2, PacSafe etc. at very good prices at different times of the year. Just read The Clymb's returns policy carefully.

Posted by
2768 posts

I find "travel clothes" unnecessary for a Rick Steves style trip to Europe. Backpacking around the world, in jungles and deserts and sleeping on floors? Probably useful. Going from town to town, staying at BBs or hotels? Not necessary, IMO. Regular underwear washes in a sink just fine, as do socks, and dry overnight. Try it at home to make sure, but I've never had a problem. As for clothes, you can easily pack over a weeks worth in a small bag, then do laundry once or twice and a laundromat or have it done for you (drop off at laundry in AM, pick up next AM). Yes, it costs, but weighing it against the value of your time AND the money saved using your normal clothes vs buying new, I find it well worth it. Just see where in the middle of the trip you will be somewhere for 2 nights, not on a Sunday (laundries often close), then look in the book or online for a laundry in that town.

I will note that plenty of clothes can be worn more than once without washing. Pants, shirts if you just wear them to dinner or an easy, sweat free outing, or over a t-shirt, sweaters that go over a shirt...obviosuly won't work for socks and underwear (wash in sink or just take more - they are small!), or truly dirty clothes, but you can at least limit laundry.

Posted by
503 posts

Completely agree with not wanting to buy items you won't wear after a trip! My husband has found the following to work pretty well. For winter/fall and early spring travel he packs a pair of nice jeans, dress slacks and 2 pairs of LL bean khaki's - 1 nice sport shirt (for nicer dinners out) and wears dry fit polo shirts (which he wears at home). The dry fit ones dry very quickly, don't wrinkle and are are very comfortable to wear for 10 - 12 hours - they don't get sticky or look limp. To round things out a thin, waterproof jacket and 1 or 2 sweaters (1 very think pullover to go over the sport shirt and a thicker traveling one) plus undies (ex officio!!) and some quick drying socks. Everything he packs is from his regular closet - no specialized clothing required!

Posted by
79 posts

Agreed, but most of my travel clothing IS my everyday clothing - merino wool socks are worn daily, as are Ex Officio undergarments. My summer wear consists of long-sleeved, sun-blocking shirts and light weight pants from Solumbra, Ex Officio, Royal Robbins, etc.

Posted by
19170 posts

@Mira,

I tried using regular, everyday clothing and sink washing. It didn't work! The humidity in many parts of Europe prevents most clothes from drying overnight. I've switched to cotton/polyester shirts and underwear, and I have had no more problems.

Posted by
1221 posts

As someone who loathes ironing like a giant loathy thing under normal circumstances, I'll gladly buy nice-looking 'travel clothes' and wear them as everyday items. 50-70% off on 'travel dresses' at the Eddie Bauer outlet store? Score!

Posted by
2147 posts

I do purchase a few pieces of "travel" clothing, i.e. Eddie Bauer Travel Ex pants, that are lightweight, easy to wash in the sink and dry overnight. I bought them when they were on sale and considered them to be a wardrobe "staple" and a great buy. I also purchased a Travel Ex parka that I like very much. Otherwise, it's my usual T-shirts, sweater, jeans. You don't "need" to buy anything but a few special items made my traveling a lot easier.

Posted by
3122 posts

Thanks for bringing up this question. I was concerned about my husband's thick cotton socks taking days to dry, so have tried some stretchy rayon socks sold very cheap at CVS drugstores. I do recommend Ex Officio underwear for comfort as well as quick drying.

Posted by
5697 posts

We haven't done tours, but laundromat stops about weekly work fine -- restful reading while the machines do the heavy lifting. FYI, line-dried cotton socks are HARD, not soft like out of the dryer.

Posted by
1 posts

Hey, if you feel $40 per shirt is too experience or not cost-effective on a shirt with the fast drying functionality, may be you can try to buy some dirt cheap ones online. Some sites like Gilt and vipme.com can do free shipping but maybe a bit slow for you. I know vipme currently is selling some wrinkle free clothes around $30 or under that, may be you can have a look there, gilt sometimes have this type of discount, but not recently. Hope you have a good tour. gilt address: www.gilt.com , aslo I recommend www.vipme.com

Good Luck

Posted by
1626 posts

Try REI for travel clothes. They are priced much better than ExOfficio. We've purchase clothes that we wear normally, not just for travel. During our trip we do a combination of washing clothes in sink, washing machine if in apartment, or laundromat, where you can either do it your self, or just drop off a load and pickup later. Since we take always take quick-dry clothing, we either don't have the laundromat dry the load, or ask for a delicate dry cycle.

Posted by
16894 posts

I'm tired of washing clothes in sinks and would just plan to go to the Laundromat mid-way through the trip. Washing and drying a load yourself usually costs about €8 and you can often get it all done for you (wash/dry/fold) for €15. Your tour guide will alert you to some of the handier locations on your route, and Rick's books also tend to list Laundromats at the start of most city chapters. I would avoid bringing anything that really requires dry cleaning or ironing.

Posted by
734 posts

A BIG fan of Eddie Bauer Travel Ex clothing. We have an outlet near us.......got both hubby and myself 3-in-1 jackets that will serve us well in our everyday lives in the midwest and should be all we need for the 21 day RS tour.

I have been replacing hubby's briefs with Jockey microfiber ones and he loves them......wool blend socks are very comfortable and should be fine for everyday use. I've also purchased a few microfiber tshirts for him to wear....he thinks they are "slimming". ;)

Posted by
4592 posts

Make sure your shirts are poly/cotton blends, preferably a 70/30 type of blend. All cotton shirts which are preferred in everyday life will NOT dry out hanging in a hotel room, you will regret it. These often go on sale at department stores and discounters like Ross, Marshalls, etc. By the end of the trip you will be so sick of them you will gladly hand them over to Goodwill.

Same rule for undies if you don't want to go the full polyester/microfiber route (which is preferable).

Posted by
1599 posts

We just came back from a 30 day trip to Italy with only carry-on luggage. We do NOT do our laundry in a sink at home and do not do it that way when on vacation. There are plenty of laundromats in Europe and many have a drop of/pick up service. You pay a little extra but my time is worth it. Just ask at your B&B or hotel. We wore the same clothes as we do at home.