Please sign in to post.

Traveling Thin

On a recent road trip to California we simulated packing for an up-coming excursion to Spain. We're traveling primarily by Vueling Air, and we need to reduce bulk and weight to meet their limits. A few discoveries:

  • Pack underwear and socks in separate nylon bags. This helps compartmentalize the small roller board suitcase and allow easy access to whatever you need. No need to paw through your folded clothes to find underwear every day.
  • Pack anything heavy in a carry-on day pack. Use the suitcase exclusively for clothes.
  • 100% Polyester shirts and pants are amazing! They dry overnight in a motel room and the shirts are almost completely wrinkle-free.
  • Haggar and Manila Bay are two brands of polyester shirts, and they are sometime available at Ross.
  • Nylon underwear works well to reduce bulk and weight, but doesn't dry as quickly as polyester. Maybe there will be hair dryers available in the hotel and we can use those, especially to dry the elastic band in men's underwear.

Anyone else have road-tested ideas?

Posted by
21857 posts

Welcome to the world of packing right! As I have posted many times, packing light is learned behavior. While it is easy to tell someone what to do, it nice to hear that someone actually did it and is now a convert. We tend to use polyester blends with cotton. Dry just as fast but have a bit more comfort.

Posted by
2846 posts

I am a woman and do not care for polyester pants! My favorite for travel is a cotton-spandex slim pant made by Eddie Bauer. They have no waistband or pockets, side zip so the front is flat. Very flattering, and they come in petite, regular and tall. They pack very small,mare comfortable and dry quickly ( overnight) if I press all the water out in a towel. They are called Stay-Shape Bremerton fit pants or something like that.

Another woman who posts here suggested them and I agree they are perfect for travel.

For tops I like very thin "tissue" cotton tees or very thin wool, like Icebreaker. I won't let my husband wear polyester as it quickly becomes stinky.

Posted by
10344 posts

Some aspects of Packing Light will differ by gender. Packing Light is not, quite, Unisex.

Posted by
552 posts

I'm not typically described as effeminate, but I'm in agreement with Sasha.

Too much polyester would ruin my trip. Stinky funk from a wicking layer that turned sour is one thing, but I'd also have to carry so many ointments and healing balms to assuage my suffering skin from too much direct contact with non-natural fibers that the weight of my toiletries would counter any benefit I achieved from 'magic' travel clothes.

Posted by
2846 posts

Yes it differs but I think we are talking about both genders.

My husband wears the thin wool Teeshirts too. He likes Patagonia.

For pants he wears nylon ones he buys at REI. The Prana "Moab" is his favorite andit comes in several colors.

Posted by
552 posts

As far as road-tested ways to save on bulk... traveling with a companion and sharing toiletries makes for a big savings of space.

My wife and I share razors, nail tools, toothpaste, floss, first aid, deodorant, shampoo, otc meds, etc. (Of course, I carry it all... along with her third pair of shoes... o_O .)

Posted by
13213 posts

Bill has a great suggestion on sharing toiletries. We use a Sonicare toothbrush so bring one handle and two brushes (that part is tiny). We share sunscreen, nail implements, etc., and my husband carries all that. I carry the safety pins, sewing kit, and plug adapters (because I am better at keeping track of them). We try to minimize the number of chargers we need---for example his iPhone and my iPad use the same kind, so we only take one.

We are also believers in merino wool and I buy Icebreaker "Techline" shirts at a discount at Sierratradingpost.com or Backcountry.com. They are much cheaper there than what we saw in New Zealand in January.

Posted by
107 posts

Thanks for all the comments. I will be looking into merino wool for socks and such.

One other reason I've been exploring easily-washed clothing is that it always seems to be a major challenge to find a coin-operated laundry in Europe, and the hotels want to charge exorbitant rates to handle the task.

I was surprised to hear the negative comments about polyester, but I'll still be taking some shirts. I don't think odor will be an issue if I can keep washing them after each use.

Happy trails.

Posted by
18380 posts

I like cotton-polyester blend, knit, golf style shirts. I use inflatable hangers, which keep the sides apart, facilitating drying. I think I found the shirts at Target. Underwear is also a blend. I had to order them online. My shirts and underwear have always dried overnight.

For slacks I wear chino type washable ones, but I don't try to wash them in the sink. I pack two pair and wear one pair. Rotated, they last me two weeks. My last trip was three weeks, and I washed them in a machine part way through.

I try to get out as much water as I can before hanging them to dry, but I don't use a towel, I use the bath mat. I don't mind stepping out of the shower onto a soggy bath mat in the morning, but I don't want to dry myself with a cold, wet towel.

Posted by
222 posts

Lola, just a comment about the sonicare toothbrush. Be sure to check if yours is dual voltage - 100-240. Otherwise, you will need a converter in an adaptor and that may or may not work. Several years ago I had a burn-out of mine older OralB sonicare even with a converter. Beware!
Barb

Posted by
13213 posts

Thanks for the warning, Barb. Ours is indeed the dual-voltage model. (I forget the model name, but that feature is one reason we chose it). The handle is slim and lightweight compared to older models. The handle plus two brush heads does not take up any more space than two regular toothbrushes would.

My dentist would disown me if I went two weeks without using the Sonicare, so we take it along.

Posted by
9363 posts

My Sonicare will hold a charge for almost two weeks, but I never take it traveling (I go old school for that). I don't want to deal with the size and weight of it.

Posted by
11447 posts

I just bought the battery operated Sonicare toothbrush. Not very heavy and does a good job.
$15

Posted by
119 posts

I use a Sonicare electric toothbrush at home but I bought the Arm and Hammer battery powered toothbrushes for our travels.

They have a replaceable battery and replaceable heads. Cost about $8.00 at Walmart.

Posted by
18380 posts

Manual toothbrushes (you remember, the kind we used as kids) cost less and work the same regardless of the local voltage. Plus they weigh almost nothing - why add weight needlessly.

Posted by
5697 posts

Lee, I am like Lola in regards to the Sonicare -- no way am I going to face my dentist if I take weeks off from my dentist-recommended Sonicare. I'll find somewhere else to cut weight.

Posted by
252 posts

JC Penney has a line of cotton/poly blended underwear (Stafford is the brand name) that my husband just loves. It's soft and comfy and dries overnight when we are on trips.

Under Armor shirts also work well for travel. I always throw in a couple so if we run into really warm weather, he can easily wear them every day if needed because they will quickly dry in a few hours.

For myself, I take cotton or cotton blend shirts that I plan to wear at least 2 or 3 times on the trip. For a 2 week trip, I'd take maybe 6 or 7 shirts that will coordinate with my pants. I like to travel with a pair of stretch jeans (I find they are lighter than heavy denim) and 1 or 2 pair of knit pants.

Posted by
786 posts

I like Old Navy T shirts. They are cotton, thin, comfortable, and don't wrinkle easily. There are many different styles and they frequently go on sale for pretty cheap-$5-7/shirt. So I don't feel bad if I spill or want to leave something behind to make room for souvenirs.

Posted by
66 posts

I cannot recommend Travelsmith and their travel clothes enough. I wear their black travel pants all the time. They have a couple styles..all good. Their Voyager knit, and another knit style. I don't know why the negative comments about polyester. These knit pants are the most comfortable and becoming I ever owned, and they don't smell. Have no idea what you people do to make good quality polyester knits smell,but it must take some work.

Posted by
13213 posts

The trouble with Travelsmith for me is they do not size their clothes small enough----the Voyager pant for example goes down to Small in Petites, no XS. So I cannot buy from them.

As for "stinky", even the best quality polyester knit shirts (I am thinking of my husband's Patagonia capilene shirts) will get stinky from sweat. It is probably more of a problem for men, to be blunt. My own Patagonia shirts do not get stinky. But I only wear them for hiking or skiing. For travel, I prefer merino wool, or tissue-thin cotton/polyester blends.

Posted by
18 posts

Mentioned in passing earlier but the best travel item I ever bought was an inflatable hanger, I usually carry 2 of them. And, they pack flat.

Posted by
518 posts

My $.02:

  • I've tried using synthetic, polyester, "dry-fit" type shirts, for some reason, I've found that the material tends to develop a kind of bad smell after being out in the wind/sun, more so than cotton, granted, they pack light and dry fast.

  • My preferred choice of underwear is made by Ex-Officio (http://www.rei.com/product/892196/exofficio-give-n-go-boxer-briefs-2-pack-mens-2015-overstock). They are very well made, comfortable, durable, and dry fast and so on occasion I have brought just two pairs and showered with them on so as to wash them, roll them in a towel afterwards, squeeze, and put them back on or let them dry (which will happen within a couple of hours) and wear the second pair.

  • For places like urban Europe where you might find yourself hiking in the day and visiting museums or nice restaurants at night, try to bring ONE pair of fashion versatile shoes. Ecco makes a number of styles that have unassuming solid leather uppers and hiker's soles. This helps avoid the problem of bringing one pair of "sporty" shoes and another pair of dressier shoes.

  • When traveling in pairs or groups, it's very easy to cut the weight. Items that are mutually used such as guidebooks, toothpaste, device chargers, etc., you only need to bring one of and you can split that up between the luggage so everyone contributes to their weight quota.

  • Before you commit them to your luggage, take all the clothes you plan on bringing and lay them out in different combinations to see how versatile your clothes are with each other. The more the individual components pair with each other, the less total "outfits" you need to bring. For example, it's inefficient to bring a pair of pants that you would only wear with a certain shirt. Try to bring things that can all be worn with each other.

Posted by
64 posts

bodo, your ideas are right on target! My husband & I travel a lot, typically two months or more at a time, usually using only carry-on luggage. He is a devoted Tilley Endurables customer. Although this Canadian company is perhaps best known for the famous Tilley hats, they have a varied selection of travel clothes for men & women. Wash them in the sink & they dry very quickly! Tilley clothes are on the expensive side, but are made in Canada, are very sturdy & seem to last forever. I am not a polyester fan, but often wear polyester travel clothes in casual settings, such as those made by Tilley & ExOfficio. I recently switched to the no-iron cotton blouses sold at Chicos. They can also be washed in the sink & dry almost as quickly as polyester. Have you heard of the Scottevest company? My husband's favorite Scottevest can be worn as a vest or jacket. It is sleek & has lots of internal pockets. They are available for men & women & are perfect for lightening your load for airline travel. Another example of excellent outerwear is the waterproof (not just water resistant, but actually waterproof) raincoat collection by Travelsmith. My Travelsmith raincoats, which fold very flat, have been stuffed in my suitcase & have kept me dry in rainstorms all over the world. They don't look waterproof, don't wrinkle & don't seem to wear out. None of the items I mentioned have the unpleasant smell mentioned by some of the responders.