We’re not shy over here at Her Packing List, so we like to discuss things like Diva Cups and periods and especially today’s topic: women’s travel underwear! Believe it or not, travel underwear is just as important on your packing list as your fancy travel jacket and travel shoes. It’s true!
Why do I need travel underwear?
Travel underwear were created with convenience in mind. While at home you might do laundry once a week and have dozens of pairs of underwear, on the road you may be using a washing machine less often and traveling with fewer pairs. Most travel underwear are also more breathable than your typical pair since you are likely to be more active while exploring new destinations.
If you’re going on a round-the-world trip, you also don’t want to pack dozens of pairs since it will take up precious room in your bag. How many pairs you pack is ultimately up to your best judgment, but if you’re not packing travel undies then 5-8 pairs is fairly standard.
What are the key features of travel underwear?
1. Quick Drying & Breathable Fabrics:
While cotton are the best underwear for everyday life, they can be quite annoying when traveling because they take so long to dry. Breathable and wicking fabrics are the key benefit to travel underwear so that they are quick drying. We would say this is the most important feature of travel underwear because it:
- keeps your nether regions drier after activity (and you feel fresher!),
- helps to ensure you have dry underwear when you need to hand-wash or are without a dryer,
- means you can pack fewer pairs since washing on the go isn’t a worry.
Quick drying underwear can be made of synthetic blends, or even of natural merino wool. We wrote a whole post on fast drying travel underwear you need to read.
Ever been camping and struggled to put a fresh pair of underwear on in the tent? Did you ever try to put on a clean pair of undies in the airplane bathroom? NOT EASY STUFF, right? Travel underwear from Pop n Go Knickers were designed for a traveler’s convenience in these situations.
And besides the physical wearing convenience, other travel underwear are more convenient because they often dry faster and can be worn longer without odor.
3. Anti-Theft Protection:
Even underwear can keep your belongings safe when you travel! Some travel underwear, like those from Clever Travel Companion, offer pockets – pockets large enough for a passport should you choose to use them.
4. Antimicrobial Capabilities:
With extra antimicrobial treatments, like in the popular Exofficio underwear, wearers can wear them longer without as much odor build-up. That’s awesome after long days of activity, but it’s also better for your backpack, which doesn’t have to house a huge pile of dirty and smelly underwear.
Merino wool also has natural antimicrobial properties, making it great for travel underwear!
What type of travel underwear do I need?
There are all different types of travel underwear on the market, each with their own benefits and styles. We’ll briefly mention some of the top brands and their pros and cons below to help you decide.
Exofficio Travel Underwear
We are big fans of ExOfficio’s travel undergarments, and I have traveled with them extensively. While traveling with just 2 pairs of underwear as they claim isn’t as easy as we’d like, it is definitely possible! Plus, the Give N Go Lacy style are so flattering that they can be worn as your daily underwear at home. Exofficio has a large selection of styles, so if thongs aren’t your thing, there’s always briefs or boy shorts.
- Pros: flattering styles and colors; breathable and quick drying; antimicrobial for additional odor control
- Cons: price, at nearly $20 per pair; inability for pads and panty liners to stick to the fabric as securely as normal underwear
- Best For: RTW trips and camping, where you might not be changing or washing your undergarments very frequently
Clever Travel Companion Underwear
Created as pickpocket-proof underwear, the Clever Travel Companion is a different type of travel undergarment. It comes with zipper pockets that are large enough to store a passport. The hope is that it’s more convenient and comfortable than a traditional money belt! The women’s underwear are all cotton boy short style in a handful of colors.
- Pros: pocket for storing passport, money, keys and other essentials; cute colors
- Cons: if you’re sensitive about visible panty lines, look elsewhere; not as breathable as synthetic fabrics
- Best For: large events and festivals like Oktoberfest where you don’t want to carry a purse but need to bring money and ID cards
Icebreaker Merino Wool Travel Underwear
Wool… underwear?! Yes, totally. The underwear from Icebreaker can be worn in both hot or cool weather, and it’s naturally quick-drying, wicking, and antimicrobial.
- Pros: lots of fun colors; natural fabric that is quick-drying, wicking, and antimicrobial
- Cons: price, at over $30 USD a pair; must not be placed in the dryer; lighter merino items can be more delicate
- Best For: Active trips and trips where clothes will be laundered without a dryer.
Pop N Go Travel Underwear
While Caroline found that Pop N Go underwear weren’t for her, she could see their usefulness for other occasions. They are cotton underwear with clasps on each side that make it easy to change in a hurry without completely exposing yourself. There are currently only two colors, black and white – but they’ve also released a new microfiber model that we have yet to try out.
- Pros: basic look; bikini and high leg brief assortments
- Cons: runs small; lack of color choices
- Best For: music festivals and other places you might have difficulty changing underwear
Other Travel Underwear to Consider
You might want to check out are disposable underwear, Patagonia’s Active underwear, or Icebreaker’s Hot Pants.
What about travel bras?
While we’re on the topic of travel undergarments, we might as well talk about travel bras. Like underwear, travel bras can be tricky to choose since they should be functional, but still look cute in case anyone were to see them.
We typically recommend packing two bras for any given trip, one sports bra and one nude regular bra. But how many bras you pack is really up to your personal preference and trip style. Here are a few picks for bras that work for travels and everyday life.
Lululemon Ta Ta Tamer
This bra from the active outfitting giant is made to keep “the girls” contained while running or being active. Heather swears by hers for the real bra clasps and ability to make it regular or cross straps. The cups are also removable if you don’t want too much padding.
- Pros: durability; thick straps and support
- Cons: high price
- Best For: active travels like hiking and cycling as well as everyday wear
ExOfficio Give N Go Crossover Bra
You can expect the same great features for this bra as you will find with ExOfficio’s underwear: quick drying fabrics and flattering styles. While this type of bra may not be ideal for ladies with ginormous boobs, it can be great for others.
- Pros: no uncomfortable underwire; variety of colors
- Cons: not supportive enough for larger chests
- Best For: basic travels and everyday wear
Patagonia Barely Wireless Bra
While Patagonia typically makes clothing more for comfort than style, this bra has the appeal of a sports bra but may also be flattering enough to wear with a dress or tank top.
- Pros: variety of colors; style
- Cons: not as supportive for larger chests
- Best For: RTW travels and everyday wear
The Travel Bra
A company in Australia has invented the ultimate travel bra, built with pockets big enough for passports, credit cards, and even jewelry. The initial design worked more like a sports bra, flattening the chest, but the newer model actually offers a bit of separation.
- Pros: ditch the money belt and store valuables in your bra; no uncomfortable underwire
- Cons: not supportive for larger chests; passport pockets becomes annoying when you are not carrying a passport in it
- Best For: women who already enjoying carrying things in their bras; can be used every day or during RTW travels
Can we talk about travel socks?
Sure we can! Although I’m not sure if socks are “underwear” by definition, a quick mention won’t hurt in this post.
Travel socks are often overlooked for many a traveler’s packing list, but with many different features and purposes, we put together an entire post about why they shouldn’t be forgotten. Check it out: Travel Socks Guide: Compression, Hiking, and Why You Should Pack Them
How do I wash my travel undergarments?
The beauty of most travel underwear is that they are a little less smelly than your normal underwear. And since they dry faster, you can get by with fewer pairs that you hand-wash more often. They means there are fewer pairs of soiled underwear piling up in your luggage!
It’s best to keep the soiled underwear separated from your clean clothes, and you can do that by placing them in a draw-string bag, or even their own packing cube.
Some important accessories for washing on the road include a travel clothesline, sink plug and some form of soap or detergent. Try Sea to Summit’s Wilderness Wash or Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. If you will have access to washing machines, it may be helpful to pack a lingerie bag for your bras or your more delicate merino wool underwear.
While we’re on the topic of washing clothes in general, you may even consider throwing in some Febreze or Febreze-like products for the days you can’t access washing facilities.
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Megan E. says
Thanks for the round-up! (As of today – 3-20-13 – Ex Officio is having a 25% off underwear sale) I also like the Jockey no-show promise line – it’s 90%/10% compared to ExO’s 94%/6% but it’s also under $10 a pair! I have personally used them and dried them within 5 hours after hand washing – not bad for travel at all.
I have several pairs of Icebreaker boy shorts (Sprite Hotpants)…they’re pricey but wash up well in a sink, dry quickly and manage sweat really well. Plus they are incredibly comfortable and come in cute colours! I also like that the company uses sustainably harvested merino wool.
Chelsea Elizabeth says
Victoria Secret’s YOGA panties are my favorite travel underwear. SUPER breathable, best for handwashing (they don’t fall apart and they dry ultra fast), they pack really tight and are adorable. 5 for 25. Can’t beat that… well unless they start making them with a pocket 😛
Lisa Taylor says
I wear Ahh Bra’s (no wires, elastic-y and comfy… I have DD cups so I need the support- they’re also great because you can smash them in your bag really small… No need to roll or fold them carefully. AND they dry completely overnight!
I also swear by cotton OR bamboo underwear. Bamboo is meant to help with odors too.
I also suggest panty liners – if you can get away with them in your bag! They’re small to wear, help stop with odors and stuff. And means you can wear the same pair of undies more than a couple of days in a row. (Personally it grosses me out, but with panty liners seems cleaner?) Go figure.
Aurora Tyas says
Pop&Go Knickers designs are now available in a Quick Dry fabric called “Dri Release by Optimer”. The fabric dries 4 times quicker than cotton but feels like cotton, for ultimate comfort.
Check our latest Briefs with press studs : http://www.popandgoknickers.com/Quick-dry-Dri-release/High-leg-Briefs-Quick-dry
I love the ExOfficio lace banded ones, and wear them often at home too! I also really like Patagonia underwear, which you didn’t list. They are priced similarly to EXO, and have several styles/colors to choose from.
I”m glad you mentioned a sink stopper! Most of my travel laundry has been done in rivers or lakes, but this is a good item to bring to Asia!
While I like the idea of a travel underwear laundry bag, I cannot imagine paying $38 for the one you’ve shared here. I visited the site and found it so cute, but, seriously! Why would anyone spend that much money when a mesh bag would do the job and even provide more airflow.
I am ordering the bra (the TaTa Tamer) as it is gorgeous and all reviews point to its durability. I am heading out on a solo bicycle tour across the USA on june 20, riding from Portland, OR to Portland, Maine…camping almost the entire time! This bra will be a luxurious companion!
Silvia Tallarico says
The best bra to travel is that closing in the front. Believe me. I travel once a month!
I do not know why do you need quick-dry underwear. I think that is the spreading anxiety all around. Come on !!!
Thanks for the tip about the bra 🙂 Quick-dry underwear is great because you can ensure you always have clean, dry underwear when doing laundry is last-minute, there is not dryer, or the weather is humid/wet.