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How many t-shirts and underwear to bring for packing light

Is there a magic number? I want to pack super light, but always have something clean to wear as a base layer.

Do you just pack a few T-shirts, a few sets of underwear, then just wash & drip dry in the bathrooms as you go? If stuff is still damp when it's time to leave, do you keep a mesh bag to keep letting it dry on the bus...?

Thanks all, great community and great advice so far.

Posted by
21043 posts

Wear one, pack three or four. Avoid all cotton in favor of synthetic blends. They will be dry in the morning.

Posted by
7406 posts

Same number as Frank. We wash clothes only when we have two nights for them to dry.

Posted by
1650 posts

Frank's right, go with synthetics (microfiber) and wash out a pair or 2 every night before dinner, hang to dry, finish off with in-room hair dryer next morning if still a bit damp.

Or, some recommend the use-and-toss method and there used to be very cheap, flimsy undies made almost out of tracing paper to do that with. Hey it's your trip so it's up to you.

Posted by
524 posts

I have often joked I could get away with two pair of undies. Keep them washed and rotated. I still haven't done this. I usually take three and wear the fourth. Bras, I take two and wear one. Socks, I take 4-5 pair. If I am going someplace that is colder and or wetter, they take more time to dry, so I wash them only when I have at least a two night stay. If the room has a radiator or towel warmer, that is where they are placed to dry.

On all of my tours there has been the option of having your laundry done for you, it is approximately half way. I have mistakenly used service and my pants were dried to a crisp. I am picky about how my clothes are dried, my pants NEVER go in the dryer. I have found laundromats and washed big loads. I use the time to people watch, make plans for the next day, read my book, or just to relax. But, I usually wash in room. It only takes a few minutes.

Posted by
8080 posts

Did you ever think you would be talking with strangers about your underwear...AND getting lots of responses?

Like Debra, I also take 3/wear 1 and take 1/wear 1 for a bra. I did try on a recent Road Trip to see if take1/wear 1 worked and it did (altho I had some more stashed away). I wont do it for Europe though as this was in CO and UT which is a much drier climate.

Last year I switched to Smartwool socks and take 3/wear 1 altho you can wear them many more days without them getting smelly. I take a tall kitchen garbage bag in case I have damp laundry that needs to be isolated from the rest of the stuff. I probably would not be comfortable letting it dry on the bus and no one on any of the tours I've been on has done that. I have seen people here refer to doing that, though.

I also think it is a good idea to do a trial wash and dry at home to check your drying time. I have had shirts I thought would dry quickly that did not and others I thought might be iffy that dried in a jiffy, lol. Sometimes you just can't tell from the fabric content.

Posted by
524 posts

Ok...here's my issue. I tried on a pair of the ex officio and they just ride up the back....and leaves me with no coverage and a wedgie, TMI, I know.

If anyone has any other suggestions with wash and wear I will try them. If not, my usual are all going with me, but the majority of the underwear is synthetic not cotton.

I also have a friend that went to Itsly last year and said her wash and wear clothing wasn't drying well enough due to the humidity and the clothes were smelling really bad.

Posted by
8080 posts

Lulu, your regular underwear may be just fine. Don't take the Ex Officio if they ride up, as that might lead to...uhh, er,... chafing if it is still real hot in Italy. I have taken regular underwear and what took the longest to dry was the waistband. If yours has the lacy stuff at the top it might dry faster.

Posted by
5581 posts

And then there are people like me who don't think underwear weighs that much or takes up a lot of space -- I carry enough that a laundromat trip every week or so takes care of everything at once. Not a fan of sink washing.

Posted by
2787 posts

Being a guy, in going on 13 RS tours, I have taken 3 pairs of underpants, tee-shirts, and socks, all ExOfficio. Wear each pair twice, turning them inside out after one day, and then sink wash them all after 5 or 6 days, hang them up in the bathroom and they have always been dry in the morning. I have never had a problem with any of them ridding up on me.

Posted by
524 posts

OMG, here I am speaking of undergarments. Pam, I agree, can't believe, but still doing it. I purchased husband some Buck Naked Underwear. Expensive, but he LOVES them. So much so, that I decided I would try these. I HATE them. I am a full coverage type of gal, and these are low in waist and high on leg, not a full brief. Thank you, I will stick with my tried and true regular undies. They wash, they dry, they work. Yes, they don't take up much room and they are not heavy, but sorry, I don't like to carry around dirty clothing. So, I will wash out nightly. Just my choice.

Posted by
3447 posts

One trick to expedite the drying process is this. Wring the items as hard as you can (might have to be careful with bras). Then roll them up in a towel to wick out the excess moisture. Really makes a difference.

Posted by
5641 posts

Three, wear one, wash/drying second, third is a backup in the event of slow drying. With synthetic wick-dry "technical" fabrics, I haven't needed the backup third.

During winter travel, add two sets of long top and bottom base layers for outdoor activities. My Craft base layerrs dry overnight but having a backup set is in insurance and givres me the flexibility of having light (above thaw) baselayer set and a heavier (below freeze) baselayer set.

If you add socks to the equation, three pairs of wool boot socks and two lighter synthetic (Coolmax) sock for casual and evening use wearing one pair in transit.

Posted by
5763 posts

le-weekend start with the minimum of all the other clothes, and then keep stuffing more u-wear, socks & t-shirts into your bag until you've reached the max carryon capacity/weight of your bag.

Posted by
14246 posts

Roll the wet things in a towel and squeeze as much moisture out as you can, then hang them and they'll usually dry overnight. Drip dry takes a long time.

Posted by
4495 posts

I really want to meet Pam. And Debra. And Chani. Has anyone ever started a thread about which RS posters would be the most fun to travel with?

BTW, most of my underwear is cotton; we use the towel squeeze method, and it almost always dries overnight. Take 3, wear 1 for underpants, 2/1 for bras except in hot weather, then 3/1. I think my husband goes 3/1 for undershorts, 3/1 also for t-shirts. All of his things are cotton.

Posted by
2589 posts

As the Brit in the Cottonelle toilet paper ad dares, "Go Commando!"

Posted by
8080 posts

Jane, that would be fun! Come on up to the Moscow ID Rick Steves Meet up on the 3rd Sat of the month. Altho it's quite a haul from Sapulpa to Idaho for coffee and a couple of hours of travel chat!

Posted by
3 posts

I'm with Laura B. I don't think underwear weighs all that much or takes up too much room. I take a weeks worth (or more) and plan on using a laundromat or I pay to have someone do the washing at some point in the trip. I traveled all of June in Italy this way and I always had clean clothes to wear.

Posted by
4522 posts

I also just bring my cotton undies and socks and they drip dry in 2 nights. If you roll them in a towel or use the hairdryer that 2nd night, you can cut the drying time in half. I bring about 5 pairs as I don't like to do the laundry as often and they take little room. Roll them all up tight in your luggage and put them in pods. For shirts, I do use travel shirts from REI that dry very quickly and don't wrinkle. I get some t-shirts and dressier shirts. Not cheap but they last and I use them over and over on my trips.

Posted by
4495 posts

OK, Pam; let me adjust my teleportation device...

Posted by
500 posts

Hanes now makes women's microfiber/cotton underwear. It easily dries overnight. I've stopped buying the other brands from Ex-Officio, Magellans , etc. and saving dollars.

Tshirts that dry quickly can be found at Target, Kohls, Old navy, LLBean, TravelSmith, Magellans, ExOffcio.

After several trips I'm finally at the 5 tops-5 underwear-2 bras -2 bottoms- 2 second layers, a neck scarf, a waterproof jacket with a hood. I'm at 2 pair of footwear and 5 pair socks.

Cooler season do 3 long tops, 2 short; warmer season do the opposite.. Same with socks.

With practice you'll get it. Each time you go take less than you did before. Note what you wear the most, you'll likely be surprised to learn you don't wear everything you pack.

Happy packing😀

Posted by
1650 posts

The other important thing is to bring at least one stretchy rubber clothesline, and perhaps an inflatable hanger or three. And be considerate, only hang stuff that's going to drip in the shower or the tub.

And DO NOT ever hang anything from a ceiling/wall sprinkler; they've had to start putting up warning signs in hotel rooms about that.

Posted by
762 posts

One of the tricks that helps me is travelling with 2 stretchy clotheslines, one a RS and a second. Connecting the 2 together makes it easier to attach them to something in the bathroom for overnight drying. If I am staying 2 nights in a hotel and things are not quite dry after one overnight drying I use one of the clotheslines in the closet, partially wrapping both ends around the bar and with underwear still on the stretchy clothesline so the line is a droopy U. Often there are not many hangers in hotel closets so this helps a lot.

After washing things in the sink, I wring everything out in a sea to Summit brand pocket towel, which is a very thin towel. I purchased it in MEC which is similar to REI in the US. It is amazing how much extra water it can soak up, even after it is wet itself; just wring that towel out.

Not sure what the magic number if underwear are!

Posted by
1532 posts

I think it may have been said, but I'd repeat: don't dry stuff on the bus. Do laundry just as soon as you land in a spot (often you get into town in the late afternoon, check in hotel, and then head out with the group). It takes 5 minutes to quickly wash, rinse, and wring out your base layers and get them hung up to dry. That also lets the towel you use to wring out the clothes to dry too. Plan ahead so you do wash on the first night of a two night stay (and rarely on a one-nighter). It goes without saying you should test out a wash/dry before you go to see how long it takes, keeping in mind the climate differences from where you are to where you're going.

For those looking for more comfy undies that don't ride up (and dry overnight), I'm a big fan of Bali brand no-slip panties (see example here). Some of them are part cotton and part quick dry spandex - the perfect combo (IMHO). I've found them at the Hanes brand store at a local outlet mall for less than $5 per pair.

Posted by
36 posts

I always remember the friend who saved her old underwear and then brought them on vacation and just threw them away each day! So, start saving 'em. lol

Posted by
5641 posts

Re: ...brought them on vacation and just threw them away each day! So, start saving 'em. lol....

I would thing that Europe would not want to be used as North America's dumping ground.
http://www.patagonia.com/us/reuse-recycle

...supporting new economies that revolve around extending the life of
stuff we already own. But nothing lasts forever, so we continue to
offer easy ways to recycle Patagonia...

Posted by
3580 posts

Absolute minimum for me is one outfit on and one outfit to spare. I take a little more than this, usually 2-3 extra underpants and 2-3 pr sox. I found some inexpensive nylon underpants years ago and have worn them constantly ever since. Fruit-of-the-Loom or similar. They wear forever, dry quickly, are very comfortable, and weigh only about an ounce each. For sleeping ( why don't people talk about what they sleep in?) I wear a t-shirt and comfortable knit cotton pants that look good enough to wear around town. I hand wash frequently and load up everything for a trip to the laundromat about once a week. It helps to have a little something to wear on laundry day. I take a few of the (dry) detergent pods from home for the laundromat. I use a few drops of shampoo for hand washing and press out excess water in a towel if drying conditions aren't ideal.

Posted by
56 posts

I'm with Laura. If you're on a 2 week tour, you should have enough time to do a load of laundry that doesn't require you to revert to rubbin' yer unmentionables against rocks down at the crick, or in your hotel sink. Roll them up. A week's worth won't take up that much space. Fellas - do you really care if your socks or boxers get wrinkled? You're in Europe. Live a little. And in a weird way, going to a European laundromat might be an interesting experience, just as it would be to stop in a grocery store, drug store, book shop or any other place of business in another country.

Posted by
889 posts

Applies more to women but want to mention that Tactel (Jockey has female lines with this fabric) dries quickly overnight. Please also note that if you're a woman, wearing a liner helps keeps things cleaner too. Yeah, way TMI, but sometimes I think there's too much drama about the underwear thing. Rinse 'em out, hang 'em up and move on.

Re: drying on bus....do people actually do this? Images of family vacations with towels and clothes draped over the Coleman cooler drying in the back windshield sun of the station wagon come to mind. Okay for that road trip out west while you're cruising down I-70; not okay for the RS bus. :)

Posted by
873 posts

Rachel,
Yes, they do. I have witnessed it. Thankfully, only socks, but still...

Posted by
11450 posts

We travel three to four weeks at a time. I take 4-5 pairs of undies .. regular whatever brand .. I bought some "travel underwear" once.. cost like 25 dollars a pair and was not comfier or better then my regular 5 dollar ones. Plus they wore out faster then they should for that kind of money.. and they were ug o lee.

I have no problem with sink washing.. not sure why some find touching their underwear so hard to do.. lol I use a towel to roll up stuff to extract most water.. and have never had a problem with them drying if I do it on first night of a two night stay anywhere. The whole washing procedure takes 5 minutes.. going to a laundremat takes a lot longer.. and I have better things to do. It would be luxurious to send laundry out.. but I am too cheap/poor.

We primarily travel in spring/summer.. so I only pack 2 pairs of socks for me.. I spend most time in my super comfy sandals. Same with hubby.. and no.. we do not do socks and sandals.

Posted by
13 posts

The towel idea was really good. I wish I would have thought of that. We found that you needed two days to dry underwear by hanging indoors. I bought a clothes line but never found an opportunity to use it. The Ex Officio tee shirts dried the best but the band on the underwear did not dry as well. I spent money on smart wool socks. Good socks but they dried at about the same rate as my cheap socks. If an article was still wet we put it in a plastic bag in our suitcase.

You want to be washing the first night of a two night stay.

I should add that my travel clothing be it Eddie Bauer or Columbia dried fairly quickly. A fair number of tour members - especially men - used travel clothing.

Posted by
91 posts

I have done the wear & dump routine. What the heck.. I have an older pair or two of underwear or nightie , bra even a top. I am going to toss it anyway so why not take it
use it for a day or the whole trip. My husband doesn't mind and I fill the spot with something I have bought.