Extended trips allow us a wonderful opportunity to figure out how to do laundry on the road.
I must admit that on long trips we have gone days- many days wearing the same clothes. I was watching a travel video that recommended wearing your shirt twice before washing. What ? only twice.....they have not been on the road.
What is the longest you've gone without doing laundry?
Have you used cologne, perfume or air freshener to disguise the smell?
Do you wash your things in the sink, go to a laundry mat or send it out?
Amusing stories will be appreciated.
Argh. My biggest pet peeve being on the road! You get so sweaty and smelly travelling, and stuffing things back into your backpack is so gross. Depending on the place I'm visiting, I can usually wear things a few times before I try to find a laundry service. But my laundry usually comes back smelling musty, or like it was rinsed in dirty water, or sometimes it doesn't come back at all ! I bring my own cloths line with me and wash my unmentionables in the sink, hang them around my room, but they never seem to dry properly! I miss fabric softener. I miss clean water. I miss putting on fresh clothes everyday. I've been reduced to hanging my underwear out a truck window in Africa to get it dry.
I tend to travel places with developed infrastructure (unless I'm backpacking, with is a whole different story) so I don't have stories about doing laundry. However, I do have a story about a laundromat.
I was staying in the Mojave Desert in the middle of nowhere and needed to do laundry. I ended up driving two hours to Parhump Nevada to deal with it. Except for all the gambling signs on the walls, the laundromat itself was unremarkable. Afterwards, I mentioned where I went to the people who owned my lodging. That laundromat is owned by infamous Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss! She moved to Parhump to open a brothel. While waiting for her business license (which was ultimately denied due to her criminal past) she opened the laundromat to earn money. I had no idea : )
I blogged it here: Desert Solitare
I often let my laundry wash in hotels. It was not uncommon to travel for 3 weeks and only able to put cloths for 10 days into the trolley.
Once I had half-wet underwear in the back of my car and at the border control before the France-UK-tunnel they thought that was funny.
In response to: Msg #201729
Thomas, would have loved to see a photo of your wet underwear in the back of the car.....and the look on the faces of boarder patrol.
Great story, that is what makes travel fun. Thanks for sharing this moment.
It is great when the hotels don't over charge and you can leave it in their hands.
In response to: Msg #201708
Andrea, we always keep a garbage bag in the luggage to help separate the dirty from the clean but you are right that it can be icky to reach into the bag at times.
In France we tried a laundromat and it worked well once we figure out how to pay.
In Asia we had a lot of luck sending our clothes out until we reached Hanoi. The clothes came back uncomfortably stiff and smelly. we wore them any way. Unfortunately Dave got a rash that took weeks to get rid of. You have to ask yourself what they did to those clothes? I assume dirty river water.
Finding and using laundry services can sometimes be an adventure that could have its own blog! We've frequently been down to our last set of clean clothes before desperately seeking a laundry service. In some countries the laundromats seem to be only in the seediest parts of town, and in other countries the service is so swish that the clothes come back in better condition than when we packed at home (i.e. every item is perfectly ironed)! 😊
My seediest laundromat experience was in Granada, Spain - pretty sure it was in the back room of the bar where people hired hit men. Funniest experience was at a hotel in Kas, Turkey - where they hung our clothes on the balcony off the lobby so everyone could see our underwear as they entered the hotel. And then the wind picked up and blew our clothes off the line, and Andrew had to scale the roofs of the houses next door to retrieve them! Very surprisingly, in all our travels, we've only ever lost one item of clothing.
I agree with Andrea...I find stuffing dirty clothes back into my backpack really gross, so I've always made sure my backpack has a separate compartment where I can quarantine sweaty and dusty clothes. And when we get home, EVERYTHING gets put though the wash, including the pack 😊
In response to: Msg #201736
Ren, great stories! I wish you had a photo of Andrew retrieving the laundry.
We have had the experience where the laundry came back better than when we left home. It always bring a smile to our face.
The nightmare of travelling! We try to have sufficient items to last a fortnight (pants are at least small enough to shove into small corners of a backpack) and a bag to contain and hopefully dispel the smell from the dirty washing. As we book our accommodation a few days in advance we try and make sure that we will have access to a washing machine every 14 days to catch up, although this means a day of leisure or walking round in our swimwear while everything dries....nothing better than clean clothes after a couple of weeks of repeat wear
We do also do some hand washing which always seems to find it's way into Zoe's vlogs as background decoration, nothing like have your knickers on show!
The imagine of Andrew trying to catch clothes made me chuckle..... hopefully he had something to wear for the chase!
Oh the pleasure of clean laundry when travelling.
We're currently in Ecuador but have not yet had the need to do a wash but have seen many coin-op laundrys here. Had an apartment in Santiago before coming here so we did 2 washloads to ensure all our clothes were clean.
Not got any funny stories however had a great time in West Hollywood, LA in February. Had a late night flight to Bogota from LAX so left our AirBnB host on the Sunday morning, walked 30 minutes to a coin-op laundry and got a load going. We'd spotted a Mexican place a few doors down so had the most delicious Heuvos Rancheros while our clothes got clean. Best use of our time ever! Then jumped on a bus to the Getty museum for the afternoon where they stored our packs while we looked round before heading to the airport.
In Peru, I remember the laundry mat took a detailed written description of all the clothing I turned in. When I got the items back they were the right description i.e. blue pants with pockets, but it was someone else's blue pants with pockets! Shirts were all the same colours but other peoples. Even my socks were someone else's black Adidas. I was amazed that someone else was doing laundry at that laundry mat had the exact same wardrobe as me. It was so weird that I had to laugh.
In response to: Msg #201843
How hilarious - that laundry business needs a new system! The most robust system we've come across was in Vietnam - a bit of purple wool had been sewn (yes sewn!) onto the tags or inside legs of all the clothes we put in, and a corresponding bit of purple wool had been stuck onto our receipt. It was so annoying to get all the wool off, and eight years later I've still got two travel trousers with that piece of purple wool STILL on the tags 😊
I often travel to India, where laundry costs virtually nothing. I can survive for a month on very few clothes indeed. I sometimes even adjust my itinerary to accommodate laundering them and make a point of having all worn clothing laundered the day before flying home to save my wife that chore on my return.
This year in Jaisalmer, I had three long-sleeved shirts, three pair of underpants, three t-shirts, two handkerchiefs and a pair of jeans washed, ironed and returned to me, neatly folded, in under 12 hours (wet clothes dry quickly in the desert). All this cost a total of 200 Rupees - under GBP 2.50/USD 3. Oh, and like RENanDREW, one of those pairs of underpants and a handkerchief still have a bit of wool - red in my case - sewn on from a visit to a laundry in Jaipur two years before; I leave it on them as a souvenir!
I try to avoid white clothes as, from experience, they'll invariably be returned from the laundry in a delicate shade of grey! In India,'laundry' is often a euphamism for a piece of clothing having the living daylights bashed out of it on a rock in a river.
I usually try to book apartment accommodation that has a washing machine, but if I can't do that I always carry a block of wonder soap with me to be able to hand wash. A good tip I got from a backpacker was to roll up your wet washing into a towel and then walk on it to get as much moisture out as you can. This works well to dry your clothes a bit quicker.
I mostly shower and do my laundry simultaneously. Soak the clothes in water and sprinkle detergent over them. Then tap dance on the them while you shower. Use as little water as possible and make sure that the shampoo and soak goes into the laundry when you rinse it off your hair/body.
Drying the laundry is a bit trickier. I have been known to put on wet clothes because they didn't dry during the night and I had to check out of the hotel room the next morning.
When we rent a car we often dry our wet clothes in the back window, on top of the bags and on the seats. When we hang socks and underwear everywhere in the compartment of the car we jokingly call it "the Swedish anti-theft system". Seriously, who would steal a car filled with drying laundry?
If I go into the field for work, I often go for several weeks without laundry - I think my record is about 7 weeks. I tend to have a couple of sets of clothes for the day in the field and a couple of sets for in the camp, so I can go for long times without laundry. Worth noting though is that we all do this in camp so we all smell the same regardless... When travelling, Theresa and I often wash our clothes daily - just wash three or four pieces in the evening and hang it up in the hotel room over-night. It works well. I sometimes travel with some really old and worn clothes too, so that I can wear them for a few days, then leave them in the hotel room. Hopefully they get re-used.
On our current trip we've been fortunate to be able to send our laundry out for reasonable prices. Two of our air BnB apartments have had washing machines. Woo hoo! It is easy to wash a few things in the sinks at night.
We prefer sending it out when we can so we don't take time away from our explorations.
Ahhh, the joys. I have to say that we nearly always do our own (very often like Ake Och Emma whilst showering, although sinks, buckets and even rivers also been known).
The key here is a block of washing soap: ubiquitous, cheap as chips, lasts ages and easy to transport in a zip lock bag (an elastic washing line is handy kit). The one exception to self washing is good old India (yep, the wool trick is certainly still in evidence). Typically the dhobi-wallahs do a magnificent job, although half buttons were not uncommon in the old days - not that our tattered/patched wardrobe is much affected by these:
Our only misadventures have been theft by monkeys (oh, and, bizarrely, by some pervert in Japan: white knickers only), consumption by cows and necessary baksheesh to workers to retrieve blown items from their new lofty perches...
The pleasure of washing clothes. When we started our big trip in 2008 (backpacking) in South Ameria, we started giving it to the typical backpacker laundry services. This worked well in Ecuador. And then came Bolivia. One laundry service was a little store (the kind you can buy everything). OK, they promised to have a washing mashine. When we picked up the laundry, the clothes looked nice and smelled fine int he bucket. But the lady emptied the bucket right over the counter of chewing gums, cigarettes, open chocolate, bread and lots of dust. Markus underwear fell on the floor. No problem, finally all went into the - surely already used - plastic bag. That was the time we changed our washing method and bought a wonderful little portable washing sink. This is the solution! Ever since we wash our clothes in there and hang them to dry wherever possible. Only one exception. when we do have a nice accomodation we wash everything in the sinks of the nice clean bathrooms. Our own clothes line is essential. So whenever we have a nice room while travelling, be sure at night the line zickzacks thoruhg the room with our dripping clothes on it (much do we appreciate a balcony - which is rare when we travel). We have tried our clothes outside the car (hanging at the mirror), on different roofs, between trees...
Best story, in a B&B in India once we asked for a fresh towel. It came promptly and even had the price tag on. Well, kind of a feeling told us, to use our little sink and wash the towel first before using it. And out came tons of muddy water.... The towel was so "fresh", just from the market.
So, for us, nothing beats our little sink which does not need more space than a bar of chocolate.