Finally found a solution to my perpetual sock shortage!

I’ve been traveling several hundred thousand miles per year for nearly eight years now, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s how to pack. Not necessarily how to pack well, but rather how to pack fast. Really fast.

That applies both at home and at hotels. Sure, occasionally I’ll leave things behind on a plane (be it a laptop or my mom), but I’m usually not far down the jet bridge before I realize they’re missing. But I don’t think I’ve ever lost anything at a hotel… aside from socks.

On average I probably take a dozen pairs of socks on a trip, and return with maybe half of them, most of which I leave behind in hotel rooms. At the end of the day I usually just leave them on the floor, and I guess they somehow end up under the bed, in bed, or under furniture, and I end up not seeing them when I’m rushing to leave the hotel and catch a flight.

But I’ve finally found the solution. I’ve purchased socks that are labeled “L” and “R,” and my anal retentiveness won’t let me wear two “Ls” or two “Rs.”

Therefore I’ve forced myself to start “bunching” each pair of socks together at the end of the day when traveling.

It’s easy to lose one sock at a time, but much harder to miss two socks bunched together. Sorry Target, you’ll be getting a lot less of my sock business from hereon out!

Anyone else experience severe sock shrinkage when traveling?

Filed Under: Advice, Travel
  1. Hahaha! Good idea, Lucky. I never lose my socks in hotels, but they do disappear in the dryer. I’m convinced there’s some sick guy in my building stealing socks from the dryers.

  2. That’s what I am doing all the time. But seriously, Lucky, showing used socks on your blog…..

  3. Normal socks have a left or right distinction? I usually unpacking and repacking my suitcase every night on my trip, putting back in the days outfit inside out (ie worn) and taking out the next days outfit.

    Ps, try laying both socks flat together, folding the top one in half then rolling them and tucking it in the elastic. I find that takes up a lot less space than the way you did it (which I used to do)

  4. The folks who were upset about your string of posts on driving around Washington are going to be super stoked about this.

  5. My strategy is:

    First night: take laundry bag from first place I am at.
    Begin stuffing each day’s clothes in it and packing the bag (it’s dirty laundry, so scrunching it down into my bag isn’t going to hurt it)
    Repeat with a different bag/different place when first bag is full.

    Also, getting your laundry done in Asia at someplace local is generally cost effective (and gets you out of the hotel). Alternately, in Europe or someplace expensive: find a place like this and do laundry while catching up on email/bills/etc. while having a nice coffee.

  6. Just wear lots of brightly colored socks. (Uniqlo is great for normal crew-type socks in many colors.) If you only have one pair in a specific color, it’s hard to lose half of it. And you get more-interesting socks out of it.

  7. Why not wear the socks that they give out in the biz/first amenity kits when you’re in the hotel room? If you lose them…they were free in the first place, so no big deal.

  8. You do realize that should you lose a Left sock you’ll have an extra Right sock. Might as well discard it too unless you plan on losing a Right sock in the near future. Non-designated socks allow one to mix and match — oh the headache at folding time. I can’t believe I’m responding to this post. Is it April Fool’s Day again?

  9. I have socks labeled, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc. Prevents me from reusing the same sock that week!

  10. I hate socks…
    My strategy is quite simple. I’ve got only 2 colors of socks. And dozens of them. Black and gray, without any drawings or something. So I can just mix them without problems. The chances that I would have only 1 black sock left is kind of inexistent.(as I’ve got a minimum of 15 pairs of them)

    I know it’s really the easy and lazy solution, yet it’s so effective. So if I would loose a few of them during a trip, wouldn’t be a disaster. Probably wouldn’t even notice it.

  11. I always told myself when I hit it big I would just buy new socks and never wear the same pair twice. Nothing like that new sock feel. Aren’t you at that point already? šŸ˜‰

  12. I wore these socks for a while and while I find them very comfortable somehow I am down to one R but still have four L socks. I’ve gone back to non-sided socks from now on…

  13. Think you need to add a tab that says Best Current Socks. Maybe get some Nike affiliate links šŸ™‚

  14. Yup, a certified, crazy traveler. My solution(s) to the lost small items are:
    Socks: Buy generic (white or colored, depending upon your dress standards)and AT LEAST a dozen pair at a time. Missing one is no big deal.
    In-Room: Like you (I guess) I need to trip-off and shower, ASAP. The improved habit is to ‘dump’ all discarded ‘personal linens’ into a single pile. After I’m refreshed and into clean gear, I pack the used linens into zip-top bags, roll the air out and get them **back into by small bag,** ASAP. I’ve not lost a sock or other garment in years. (And no, unless routine washing is included in the exceptional hotel’s service program, looking after your own underwear is your problem, not theirs.) With a , I’d bet that you home/apartment is pristine – and that you are a little messy in hotel rooms. Right/wrong/Or don’t want to talk about it? Funny stuff and a great post. In the end, keeping track of your own underwear is your problem.
    Of note: I’ve often been known to wash socks, shorts and tee-shirts while in the shower. Boarding an airplane in less than ideal condition is just not my idea of fun. If I have to wash a thing or two, sobeit.

  15. I use old socks, old underwear, old t-shirts on longer trips. I use once, wash out once, then toss. In Zambia, I did once give the t-shirts away. By the end of the trip I have a much lighter and emptier bag.

  16. Laundry bags are definitely the solution – used them every time the same way as Eponymous Coward describes above and never lost any items of clothing, socks included!

  17. @CHSDOC If I did that I’d be out of tshirts, socks, and underwear!!!! It depends how much you travel. šŸ˜‰

  18. so those are your dirty socks that have shown up under the curtains etc… in the hotel rooms we’ve been in with obviously less than par cleaning staff… I’ll mail em back to you next time we come across one!

  19. I have the same problem. Here’s what I do. I buy all the socks of the same color and type. So, even if I lose a sock, I can paid it with others.

  20. Uniqlo also sells socks with L and R on them, probably cheaper than the Nike ones (although they won’t dry as quickly).

    At the end of the day, the secret to packing these items is to buy so many of the same socks and underwear that you never lose any sleep over finding a clean one (or just losing them).

  21. Most of the people next to me n the plane are wearing an Ed Hardy tshirt they dug out of the laundry, pajama bottoms and flip flops with no socks. Now I know why.
    Seriously I don’t lose socks at hotels normally as I throw everything I take off on top of the dirty laundry bag.
    One big tip is to make sure when you buy socks to buy socks without cotton content as that is what soaks up the sweat and smells bad. Cotton is rotten.

  22. Throw them away, that’s what I do to help travel light. Go to your local dirt cheap rubbish cloths emporium, buy socks at Ā£1/$1 per pair, pack them( always super flat if never worn) then wear a day or so and bin.

  23. I switched to socks and have never looked back. Converted the man of the house too. And you can get a few Miles & More points too.

  24. Ben, I wear the same exact socks (except the women’s version) and like you, I am too anal to wear L/L, or R/R combinations.

    Ignore the haters. šŸ™‚

  25. In all honestly, I don’t understand how it’s possible to lose anything in a hotel room, even socks. Hotel rooms aren’t that big to begin with, and unless you just randomly throw stuff around the room, how do you lose them? What do you do with them when you take them off? Most hotels have beds that you can’t even get stuff under…just be thorough when you pack up, and this shouldn’t happen…

  26. Not sure how having socks labeled L and R will help prevent losing them. Buy several pairs of the same color and don’t worry if your left foot doesn’t know what the right foot is doing.

    How do your socks end up on the floor ?
    I use packing cubes so at the hotel, clothes in cube = clean. I drop dirty clothes right into the duffle which, in a hotel room, is never too far away. Packing dirty clothes = zip up the duffel.

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