A Man and His Underwear, Part 1: Undies To Go

I won’t lie, I was bragging. Having just completed a two-week trip packing only a carry-on, I was detailing the contents. Mentioning that I had packed only three pairs of underwear, it took no time at all for someone to ask the obvious question:

Do whut? (Tranlated from Southernese, that’s ‘do what?’ It means, ‘what the heck did you just say?’)

Obviously, this person wanted to question my personal hygiene. At first blush, three pairs of drawers for a fourteen day trip seems an indicator that a person might think they poop sunshine and roses. I get it.

Allow me to explain.

First of all, I am the prime minister of packing. Not only did I pack clothes, the same suitcase contained my wife’s cosmetics, a CPAP machine, and since we would be visiting a country where wine is dominant, I packed a bottle of good bourbon.

There are tricks to packing. Let’s start with the bourbon. Glass is dead weight and breakable. A plastic flask is light and flexible. I take the additional step of wrapping the flask in a gallon-sized baggie in case there’s leakage.

I will confirm that with this amount of liquid, a carry-on cannot be carried on an airplane. It becomes checked luggage.

So if you’re going to check it, why not pack a full-sized suitcase, then? This trip would have many stops, and I didn’t want to lug around any more baggage than necessary. Plus, being an international flight, the bag was checked for free.

You’re asking the right questions, though.

Having been involved in the 4-H program for many years, my wife learned – and taught me - how to ‘pack for camp’ (roll clothes instead of folding). You can fit a lot of tightly-rolled clothes in a suitcase. In fact, I didn’t wear all the clothes I took. I still over-packed!

Helpful hint: you can always pack less. I re-learn that every time we travel.

But back to the underwear thing.

I am an underwearist. An expert in the subject. The original Captain Underpants. In my underwear is how I spend most of my time. I suspect that’s also the cause of several failed relationships, but that’s getting off the point.

I quit college because they didn’t offer an undie-ology degree. So I set out seeking knowledge on my own.

For the uninitiated, there is truly such a thing as travel underwear. They are made of fabric designed to dry quickly and, in some cases, actually wick moisture away from the body. (Leakage, for now, is confined to the flask. Assume that moisture is sweat.)

Two brands I can recommend and own myself: ExOfficio and Magellan. They are two different kinds of fabric, but both wear well. The Magellan brand is a micro-fiber. A traveling companion on this trip complained about his micro-fiber undies. I didn’t get it. They are oh-so-soft and offer good support for… uh… the, uh, things that might need supporting.

(Side note: if you wear regular boxers, stop. Yeah, you may look cooler sitting around the house than you would in briefs, but hear me on this: gravity isn’t just for women. Consider yourself warned.)

While traveling, every couple of days, grab your underwear from the day before and, perhaps still wearing the pair you wore today, hop into the shower. Soap or shampoo does a nice job of cleaning clothes, when required. Hang them up and the next day, you’re starting all over, fresh for the next few days.

Note that it is important to get all the soap out. Failure to do so, along with air-drying them, will lead to owning undergarments you can use as a night stand.

That’s it for now. Keep ‘em clean, smelling sweet, and happy travels, everyone!

Full disclosure: I wrote this while sitting in my underwear.

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