Travel Hacks: Doing Laundry
I sort hurriedly through my closet, hunting for clothes for work. It’s been a busy week and I’ve ignored laundry. Thankfully, I have the incredible convenience of a washer and dryer, and in twenty minutes, no one will even know that I was so messy! I hide my busy week beneath the scent of dryer sheets and don’t’ even think twice about thanking the incredible machine that washed out the mud from my bike ride home.
But while on the road, we realize how many conveniences we take for granted, and laundry is one! Here’s a few travel hacks on keeping your clothes clean on the road. (After all, you never know when you might happen upon a village elder, country leader or a royal: I’ve ran into 2/3!)
Travel Hacks: Doing Laundry
1) Bring a tiny container of laundry detergent and dryer sheets and a strong string, or thin rope.
2) Makes sure it’s a TINY container of detergent or you might get it confiscated at an airport. Sometimes, things like laundry detergent don’t look so universal around the world, and you don’t want to end up washing your clothes with syrup.
3) Don’t worry too much if you can’t identify laundry detergent at the store, because shampoo contains approximately the same ingredients and works in much the same way and is far easier to act out via “travelers charades” to explain what you want.
4) As you’re unlikely to happen upon a dryer, those dryer sheets are to keep your bag and the clothes within smelling fresh, even when they’re definitely NOT fresh.
5) Step back in time (but without the washboard!) If you have a sink, you have a washing-machine. Plug the drain, fill it with hot water, and put your clothes in (not all at once, it’s going to take some time). Add some detergent (or shampoo, or that syrup you thought was detergent) and have fun with it! If you happen to have a pocket-washboard, then kudos for hipster points, but if not, just try to create bubbles and scrub as best as you can.
6) If you’re in a hostel and sink space is limited, the shower is also an option. Bring some clothes in with you stomp on them as if they’re grapes and you’re making wine.
7) Drying space is a hot commodity. If you’re lucky, you’ll only need to do laundry when traveling in desert areas with a clothes drying time of 3.5 minutes (about the same time it takes for your lips and nose to dry out in the Sahara). But if you’re not in the desert, use what you have: the space between bunk beds in a hostel, between two trees outside, a window, or zig-zag that string around a small room. Just be careful not to lose your favorite pair of underwear to the lovely city of Berlin due to an unexpected gust of wind.
8) Whatever you do, don’t put damp clothes in your bag/backpack. Bad things will happen. Trust me.
9) Never be afraid to ask about washer-dryer options in hostels or when couch-surfing. Most couch-surfing hosts are more than happy to help with this, themselves knowing the toll of a long journey, and the delight of such creature comforts.
10) Last of all, make it fun! Necessity is indeed the mother of invention, so get creative!