Doing laundry when you travel isn't that bad. In fact, it's kinda awesome! Find out why I love it.
A lot of people go on vacation to escape the everyday, mundane tasks of life. If you hate doing laundry, you may be skeptical about this post. But I’ve discovered that I LOVE doing laundry when you travel (and, as is often the case, sending my spouse out to do it as well!)
I am a passionate believer in only packing a carry-on bag, nothing else. Planning to do laundry several times ensures that I don’t overpack, and the few items I bring in my small suitcase stay fresh. On every trip, there are a few pieces of clothing that I wear again and again. Doing laundry allows me to enjoy wearing my favourites and guarantees that I’ll have something clean and available no matter the weather. No surprises there – doing laundry means you have clean clothing!! And it’s worth the few hours every time.
Travel laundry can also save you a lot of money. While I always add laundry costs to the miscellaneous part of my budget, the costs are negligible compared to checked luggage fees or dry cleaning fees. Even if you spend extra money on mini packs of detergent and bleach, you will still come out ahead compared to dry cleaning a single item. I usually travel with mini-packs of Woolite or baggies of Tide, and I’ve had great success using dish soap, camp suds, shampoo, shower gel, and bubble bath. I also stick fabric softener sheets in my suitcase – they naturally come in handy for the dryer cycle, but they also make the suitcase smell great. (However, I don't exactly love those specialty travel bags designed to make travel laundry better. Read my review about one of them in particular that I hated so much, I mailed it back home and later returned it!)
Time spent at a laundromat is never time wasted. It’s a great chance to write post cards, update your budget, review a map route. Staffed laundromats are a good source of local information – you’ll be sure to get a terrific suggestion on a cheap diner or pizza joint. And when my spouse goes out to do the laundry (thanks R! Wasn’t that midnight run in Las Vegas worth it?? At least it had slot machines!) I take the time to order the rest of our stuff. Cleaning guck out of the toiletry kit, organizing the travel papers, scrubbing out the water bottles and coffee thermos, sprucing up the rental car. I’m the kinda gal who loves feeling neat and organized and, for me, it helps me to relax and enjoy the rest of the trip.
If you have a choice of location, seek out a laundromat near a university. It's guaranteed to be full service, cheap, stocked with old magazines and a bulletin board advertising free community events. If you’re with a buddy, you can take turns exploring the campus. Most universities have beautiful buildings, small art galleries and/or museums, and inexpensive eateries. Some even have botanical gardens and walking trails – you can each enjoy a beautiful hour discovering a unique part of the city, all for free.
Don’t get so caught up on the idea that a vacation has to be the complete opposite of life at home. Embrace laundry on the road. The practical, the pleasurable, the frugal – every aspect of it will make your trip go more smoothly, allowing you to look and feel your best, all for pocket change.
My essential gear for doing laundry when you travel:
As always, I welcome and encourage your comments. Would you be willing to do laundry during your vacation or does that sound too much like a chore?
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