Travel underwear on the cheap

24 Aug

Travel underwear. Once on, the right pair should hardly merit a second thought. But as I found out the hard way (again and again), the wrong pair can totally dampen a trip.

My first time traveling abroad, I had this thing with hand-washing my cotton underwear. It grossed me out. So instead of scrubbing and recycling the three pairs I had brought, I went commando and hand-washed my pants instead. I know this is all terribly illogical, but seriously, it made perfect sense at the time.

For my next trip, I had to wear some sort of underwear because I would be hiking most days, and I wanted to avoid that bane of hikers, “chafing.” Plus, I would occasionally have to change in front of strangers. So I once again settled on several pairs of cotton briefs. I certainly felt much more comfortable than on my previous trip, and my hand-washing phobia receded into the past, but now I had the problem of slow-drying underwear. My intimates never dried out overnight, so I had to hooked them onto my pack each morning and let them dry in the sun while I hiked. This worked, except that the still damp underwear tended to pick-up dust from the trail. And honestly, how silly I must have looked, with wet panties hanging off my carabiners!

Then a couple years ago, I did finally buy a pair of travel underwear, boy-cut briefs from ExOfficio. They work great in that they are comfortable, durable, and dry as quick as a bathing suit. I never get wedgies, and their dark color hides any stains. But the price tag has dissuaded me from buying another pair. These babies go for upwards of $18.00, money I would much rather spend on an actual trip.

So what do I wear now instead? Whether in the backcountry or on a plane, hiking or sightseeing, bikini bottoms are my undergarments of choice. Now that end-of-summer sales are on, you can pick-up bikini bottoms at Target or Old Navy for next to nothing. (Of course, you can also just use the ones you already have in your drawer.) Bikini bottoms dry quickly, and they simplify packing. Instead of bringing both swimwear and underwear, you can bring a few pairs of bikini bottoms and have them for daily use as well as swimming. And of particular merit to the frugal reader, you’re not spending money on something that you will only use while traveling. With a coordinated bathing suit top,  the bottoms you travel with are great for pools days back home, too.

(And no, that last picture’s not me; it’s from Target)

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