A WASH AND WHERE AFFAIR
For all its marvel and wonder, adrenaline and joy, travel can be a tedious beast. There are all manner of logistics to wade through, waiting times to kill, and the always-constant dilemma of finding fresh underwear to put on each day. Six days into a 10-day tour, they were still waiting for their suitcases to show up. The unfortunate members of our Collette tour group who had flown through Charles de Gaulle, it seemed, were destined to see Croatia in a single outfit.
But it’s not just luggage restrictions or losses that cause domestic-duties dread; there comes a point in any extended trip where you have to wash some clothes.
And when you’re on the move with minimal downtime, you’ve got to be savvy to avoid stinking shirts or soggy socks.
Rather than bleed the budget dry with expensive hotel laundry services – and run the risk of your clothes not arriving back in time when you’re only staying the night – our group became experts in the express hotel-room wash.
From the roll and stomp to the portable steamer, here are some of the tricks you might find handy on your next trip:
Avoid white. Unless you’re a master of spaghetti and red wine.
Pack a wet/dry bag to keep the funky from the fresh. It also comes in handy if you haven’t had enough time for clothes to dry before your next departure.
Bring laundry soap and wash your clothes in the shower or sink. Or just use the hotel soap. A zip-lock of washing powder or stain soaker is another idea but perhaps best kept to your check-in rather than scanned through security.
If that doesn’t meet your sanitary standards, Amazon sells portable travel washing machines that promise to “produce positive and negative motors and induce chemical reactions in hydro-electric solutions”. Or essentially, you know, wash.
Search for laundromats close to your accommodation if you have time to run a load. Depending on which country you’re in, a complete wash-and-dry service may be cheaper than DIY. In Mexico, my husband and I had our weekly wash done for the equivalent of about $4-$6.
Plot your wash days in advance. Riveting stuff, I know. But also helpful when planning outfits.
Pack net wash bags to protect your delicates if you intend to use laundromats. We all know they’re rougher than a Moroccan hammam.
Speed up the drying process by laying your hand washing on a clean towel, rolling it up and stomping on it before hanging.
Make use of heated towel rails or hang your washing in the path of the airconditioning vent if you don’t have a balcony. Just remember where you hang them – a hotel in Slovenia is one pair of socks richer after my visit.
Pack a clothes hanger or two to hang clothes to dry.
Or do as reader, Gordon Wright, suggests and bring suction hooks from home to stick to the shower screen or windows for extra drying space.
No iron? Hang your outfit in the bathroom while you have a hot shower with the door closed and let the steam do its thing.
For more serious crinkles, pack a portable steamer and you’ll look as pressed and polished as a first-class frequent flyer. Amazon sells them for around $20.
The silver lining for my Croatian tour buddies? Their bags were accounted for and made it to Split for a reunion on the third-last day. And by then, as one traveller realised, “all that choice is a bit overwhelming, really.”