Shirts to avoid when traveling

This post is an extension of my earlier one about shirt recommendations.

To briefly summarize what to look for in a good travel shirt:

1)  Avoid cotton

2)  Spend some money on brand name, high quality polyester.  No cheapo discount store garbage.

3) Find a shirt that fits you really well.  The specific brand is not as important as personal fit.

Another tip I’ll pass on to you is something that I discovered on my own during my travels back in the day as a youngster.

When choosing a travel shirt, avoid the colors white and black.  Especially white.

Despite the frequent sink washes with Woolite, no amount of hand washing is going to replicate the level of clean you can get with a proper washing machine.  So if you wear a white shirt frequently while traveling for an extended period of time, it is going to stain at some point, either from your own sweat or from external forces from the universe.

And it will look dirty.  As a result, you will look dirty.

I had the novel idea before a month long backpacking trip across Europe in my early 20s to buy an inexpensive multi-pack of Fruit of the Loom white t-shirts for my trip.  By the beginning of week 2, the shirts started appearing filthy, and I looked like a bum.  This was despite my greatest efforts to keep the shirts clean and well maintained.  So save yourself the trouble and just don’t travel with white tops.

The problem with black shirts is a little different.  Like most shirts, they tend to attract small pieces of lint and fuzz.  It’s not noticeable on most other colors, but on black all these little bits of detritus stand out.  I’ve had this happen on cheap cotton t-shirts (back before I knew better and still traveled with cotton) and also on $90 high end polyester polo shirts.  Pretty much any black top I’ve ever taken has had this annoyance come up at some point.

So I would avoid those two colors, especially white.  It’ll make your traveling life a little easier.


4 thoughts on “Shirts to avoid when traveling

  1. Nope, I will not agree on polyester, given travel to hot and humid climates. (I’ve travelled to more than 40 countries). I settle for creases over sweat in polyester. It’s a different story if I’m hiking (rarely) – then I will chose ‘performance’ fabrics. I do know cotton and linen can crease, but also that body heat can often soften said creases, and I’ll take the comfort and breathability they offer any day.


    1. Glad to hear that cotton works well for you! I’m a fairly heat intolerant guy, so I sweat easily even when not doing strenuous activity; cotton has been a disaster for me in the past. I do agree that cheap polyester feels like trash, but the high end stuff is comfortable against the skin in my experience (the shirts that run around 40 to 80 bucks a piece). Related to this topic, I’ll be posting a shirt review in the next few weeks; it’s a polyester variant made by Patagonia that is one of the best travel shirts I’ve ever worn.

      Thank you for reading Sarah and wishing you happy future travels!


  2. I’m surprised that you haven’t looked at wool products…offers breathability, holds up well, absorbs odor, and is easy to wash/dry.


    1. I researched wool a while back and the issue that concerned me was the time it takes to dry after washing. This is the main problem I have with cotton; it just stays damp for too long. The newest polyester travel shirt I’ve been wearing (to be reviewed soon) is bone dry within 90 minutes of hanging it indoors after a wash. Have you found in your experience that wool shirts dry in an adequately short amount of time? I appreciate any input!


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