Travel Underwear – Thongs Vs Granny Pants!

One problem that many backpackers will have to face at some point during their travels is what underwear to pack! As a budget backpacker, we are often travelling in some of the cheapest and most uncomfortable modes of transport, for long hours at a time, with little or no air con, in countries where the transportation could be very different to what we are accustomed to at home. This makes it important to be wearing comfortable underwear. Trust me, the last thing you want to be doing is travelling a 14 hour bus journey wearing a thong!

Equally, nobody wants to wear granny pants! Wearing nice underwear makes you feel good, and if you feel good about yourself you’ll feel more confident, something which makes making friends on the road a lot easier. That, and if you are anything like most backpackers you will at some point want to get “acquainted” with some of your other backpacking buddies, or some of the hot locals! For those occasions you will want to have some nice underwear.

So here lies the question. With limited space available in your backpack, what underwear do you pack? The obvious answer may be to pack a combination of both comfortable underwear, and something that looks a bit sexier, but are there alternatives? Are there types of underwear that look good, but are also very comfortable? Is there underwear made specifically for travelling, and does the material your underwear is made of make a difference to your comfort e.g. if it is made of cotton, synthetics, or something else, will you sweat less or feel more comfortable on a long journey?

Having tried a variety of types of underwear on the road, below is what I pack to cover all bases and why.

  • 3 pairs of Brazilian style cotton knickers. Brazilian style knickers for those who don’t know are something in between a thong and full on cover your bum style knickers. This makes them as comfortable as ordinary cotton underwear, but they look a lot nicer, and usually have a bit of lace around the edgings. They are the kind I would use for day to day stuff, and although I wouldn’t wear them on a night out, I wouldn’t be embarrassed by someone seeing them either. I prefer the cotton ones as I find them more comfortable, but you can get them in a variety forms to suit your preference.
  • One pair of big black knickers! These are what I like to call my period pants! As you may have guessed so far, this list is geared towards female backpackers (for the simple reason that I am a female, so where travel underwear is concerned this is only advice I can give). Periods are something girls have to deal with while backpacking, and when it’s your time of the month you want to know you have a big pair of comfy pants to wear, particularly for the first day of your cycle. Black being the obvious choice.
  • 1 sexy bra and thong. If you are like me and enjoy a night out then you will want to have some really nice underwear to wear with a dress or whatever you are wearing out. Also, you will want something really nice to wear should you meet a hot man on your travels. I like to call these my “just in case” pants! It’s the bra and thong you put on when you’re not planning to have any “fun”, but are open to the possibility arising! J With a limit on how much you can fit in your backpack, I usually just pack 1 set.
  • 1 sports bra. For all adventure style activities or for any sports you’re taking part in while away, you’ll want a good sports bra to hold your bits in place! Also, for long journeys a sports bra can also be good because they are made to reduce sweat, so this is one which can double up for a lot of activities.
  • 2 plain bras, one white, one black. It’s always good to have one white bra to go under any white tops, shirts, or anything where a black bra might show through, even though I hate white underwear. I personally like under wired bras as they offer better support, but on particularly long journeys they can be uncomfortable after a while, so you may want to pack one without wiring. That, and they also take up more room in you backpack because of the shape. I also tend to wear mostly black underwear when travelling too, as you can match up a black bra and pants easily even if they weren’t necessary a set. You can do this without having to worry about matching exact colours or patterns because they are all just black.

As far as travel underwear is concerned i.e. underwear marketed towards travellers, I have yet to find a pair that isn’t very ugly and in most cases more expensive than ordinary underwear. The only real benefit to travel underwear I have found was that you sweat less, but sports underwear does the same thing and usually looks a lot better/is cheaper.

Picking the right underwear for travelling is something which is becoming increasingly important to backpackers, especially female travellers. We all want to look and feel good, but we also want to feel comfortable on long journeys. The best thing it seems is to pack a variety to suit all occasions, but with a limit on what we can fit in our backpacks it’s also important to choose well!

4 Responses to “Travel Underwear – Thongs Vs Granny Pants!”

  1. Amanda says:

    Great advice! Undies aren’t something we really think about when packing. Just don’t make the mistake of buying Tilley’s “travel undewear” ( from Canada) which promises to ‘dry over night.’ Uh… it doesn’t. Slightly soggy and clammy nickers do not a happy camper make. And don’t let me even start on their level of unattractivness…

    One other trick I learned while travelling, best NOT to wear a padded bra in hot, humid countries.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Good advice! I agree that the “travel underwear” out there is pretty heinous.

    Just wanted to point out that a nude colored bra will work better under white clothes than a white bra!

  3. Liz Ann says:

    BTW-Your story is amazing. Okay, I found some new panties about 5 month ago at a luggage store in LA, they were called briefly lightweight panties and they were AWESOME! I found their site online and there even cooler after I found out why they do what they do. Do yourself a favor and check them out at www.


  1. […] Especially for girls, it’s the one thing you always want options for. For instance, nobody wants to be wearing a thong on a 14 hour bus journey, but you also don’t want to be wearing unattractive underwear when you meet a […]

Leave a Reply