Underwear is Important

One day several years ago, when I was a struggling screenwriter in LA, I got a wild bug up my ass and decided to take a solo backpacking trip around the world. My plan was to head west, and keep heading west until I was back in LA. The journey would take me over the Pacific Ocean, through Eastern Russian (Siberia), to Moscow and then into Europe where I would zigzag around seeing sights and drinking excessively. Other than the initial flights to Vladavostok, Russia and a train ticket, most of the trip was going to be lived off the cuff. I would travel wherever I pleased, with no set itinerary.

It sounded all very fun and adventuresome, BUT I had never traveled abroad in my life. Never-ever. The only foreign country I had visited, if you could call it a "foreign" country, was Canada.

So while I was planning my flights and getting my passport and visas, I asked various friends for advice. A couple of them had traveled extensively and I figured they would have some profound and important travel tips. Y'know, little ideas and experiences that would keep me safe... or at least out of foreign jails.

Most friends had some solid advice, but it was my friend Jay who offered what would turn out to be the greatest wisdom nugget of all -- "Underwear is important."

Jay had traveled Europe for several months living out of his backpack and riding the rails. Along the way, he had lived on the cheap and seen most of Europe’s great cities. I asked him to explain these three simple words of advice. Here is what he said, "You can wear a pair of jeans for 4 or 5 days before they get grungy. A shirt, 2 or 3 days if necessary. But underwear... and socks... Man, you gotta change those ever day!" He went on, "Your outside clothes will carry you even if they're a little dirty. And if you have a backpack, it's understood that you might smell a bit unsavory-- hell, most Europeans don't smell all that great, so no one will really notice. But as long as you have fresh underwear every day... you will FEEL clean. And that makes all the difference."

Gotta tell you... Jay was right.

Straight up, you don't have much room in a backpack for changes of pants and shirts. Backpack living is all about economy. You get maybe two pairs of jeans and a handful of shirts... that’s it. Wear your outside clothes for 2 or 3 days, and you're set for washing clothes once a week. With an abundance of underwear --which by the way doesn't take up that much room in a backpack-- and some socks, you are good to go for the long haul.

So as I finish my last minute packing, Jay’s words of wisdom echo in my mind… Underwear is important... Underwear is important...

STAY TUNED FRIDAY as we kick this journey off Friday Morning with a local mountain bike ride.