Never underestimate how much underwear you need to bring with you on a trip. That’s a mantra that has been passed down for generations in my family, probably since the invention of underwear. But bringing way more underwear than one needs does have some downsides: Lack of luggage space, a propensity to lose the favorites, and the risk that if your bag does get lost, you’ll probably be going commando for a while.
Luckily, a brilliant, forward-thinking artist named Carrie Smith has designed the ultimate decision matrix for underwear packing. She’s plotted out how many pairs of underwear you’d need to bring based on the number of days you’ll be away. Inside the chart, you can find the number of washes you’d need to do given the amount of crotch-guards you pack. She created another table, too, that tells you how many clean pairs you’ll have when you return.
As you can see, the red end of the spectrum represents some questionable decision-making. If you bring two pairs of undies for a month-long trip, expect to spend much of it right next to the washing machine. (Then again, if you’re visiting a nudist colony, this condition obviously does not apply.)
In all seriousness, cutting down on laundry use will have to be a priority moving into our water-stressed future. More than a fifth of a home’s water use typically goes toward washing clothes, and intermittent drought and water management issues are already threatening large swaths of the United States.
So, can you save America by packing more underwear? Probably not. But you can at least save yourself some wasted water, and maybe an unplanned trip to the drug store to pick up a cheap pack of ugly ones when you extend your stay.