With a two-week trip to Europe looming, gynecologist Jen Gunther needed some lingerie advice.
How much underwear should you pack for the trip?
You are planning a 14-day trip and the opportunity to use the washing machine may be limited, so you wash things in the sink. How many pairs of underwear do you take?
– Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) April 25, 2023
It turns out that people are excited about the amount of undies they pack.
“I Ask the question said the physician and author in an email. Commenters shared concerns like menstruation and incontinence, and the “pack-and-go” idea of packing old underwear just so you can toss it in during the flight.
The tweet contains more than a thousand replies. Gunter’s commenters swear by set numbers—or no underwear at all.
The questions inspired emotionally charged responses, such as what time it would be to get to the airport or whether it would be a good idea to lie down on a plane. In viral TikToks comments, we see what an “exactly right number” for some could be considered a “borderline criminal” for others.
The topic probably brings out a lot of passion because underwear is one of our most personal possessions, says Seth Miller, editor of aviation industry news site PaxEx.aero.
“The style, the color, the materials, all those things that people feel strongly about comfort,” said Miller. He said that if you run out during the flight, having to buy something different on the fly is overwhelming.
Before a trip, I consult travel companions on what to pack, taking everything into account from the weather to a restaurant dress code, but I never get hung up on skimpy clothing. It has never taken up so much real estate in my mind as someone who is happy to do laundry on the road. I’m a “get some and see what happens” traveler. But heated debates I opinion And the videos you watched, the more you wondered if there was a correct answer. I put the question to Social media And I got more responses than ever before.
My #1 travel itinerary is if you are traveling for more than 2 days make sure to pack 500 pairs of underwear and exactly 3 single socks
– Spirit Nate (@MNateShyamalan) May 3, 2023
Different package types
Gunter found there are two main camps: those who bring a pair for each day of their trip, and the minimalists, who think five is enough for 14 days.
I came to a similar conclusion after conducting an unscientific survey in consultation with dozens of people. Even with our diverse personal style and travel preferences, we’re more alike than we are different when it comes to packing strategies. We fall into three patterns, either by very specific math, blind fear, or messy emotions. I’ve heard of those who decide on accounts such as doubling underwear on their flight days or to hit number of days times 1.3; others who have gone with my loose approach; And Panic packs who toss full drawers of underwear in their suitcases, fearing the worst.
I pack underwear: 2 per day +20 just in case
– 𝓐𝓷𝓰𝓮𝓵 ☁️🏹 (@Angelmillk) September 13, 2022
If in doubt, do the math
If you can’t decide on your packing style, follow the steps of left-brained travelers who go through math and past experience.
“I don’t get emotional about it. … I’ve identified and tried real points of view,” said Ashley Parker, chief national political correspondent for The Washington Post who has spent years on the road covering presidents. Her formulation is among the most popular I’ve heard: Pack a pair for each day you go, plus an extra pair or two.If it’s a seven day trip, you’ll bring nine pairs.
For Miller, the formula is N + 2, where N is the number of days until he can get to clean laundry. A portable-only traveler, Miller used to pack less.
“One pair a day is enough in theory, but things happen,” he said. In an era of flight delays and cancellations, he added that +2 to his calculations. “Maybe at some point I will cut back a bit.”
Vacationer co-founder Phil Dengler lists the math of his underwear along his trek, as well as an estimated number of showers, and always brings a pair for emergencies. It’s a strategy that takes into account physical activity, climate, and environmental factors, like whether he’s hiking or hitting the beach. On a 10-day trip with limited activity, that’s 11 pairs. For a seven-day beach trip, when he’s taken multiple times a day, that might mean 13 pairs: one for the day, plus five for an extra shower, and that emergency pair.
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Can you re-wear a pair?
While you can safely wear underwear more than once, Mark Gendreau, MD, chief medical officer at BILH Beverly and Addison Gilbert Hospitals in Massachusetts, says going more than two days can increase your risk of yeast or urinary tract infections. Recommend washing in the sink if hotel laundry or nearby laundries are not an option. (But please, don’t use the hotel’s coffee maker.)
“I have no problem washing my underwear back in the sink,” said Gunter, a gynecologist. “I also don’t find that to be a problem, but sometimes waiting for things to dry can be a little problematic.”
In her Twitter appeal, Gunter teased about the small, travel-friendly wash bars that upgrade your laundry sink. You can also purchase TSA-compliant travel laundry detergents and mini dryers.
Matt Berna of Intrepid Travel, who calls himself “one man a day plus one husband,” plans to wash clothes in a tub along the way. He learned to do this laundry while allowing enough time for the clothes to completely dry before shoving them back into your bags.
This lowest-lift option comes from travel writer Jennifer Rice: Don’t pack any to get started. “I stopped wearing them two summers ago and have never looked back.”
How many pairs of underwear do you pack for a trip? Tell us in the comments.