DRY HUMOR: How to prevent a laundry crisis when travelling
How did Napoleon Bonaparte create the world’s greatest army? Turns out, strategizing battles was the least of the Emperor’s problems. He had to move a half million soldiers through Europe and Russia without a single washer or dryer or dry humor. These soldiers had to travel light. Their flexibility was the reason they had the greatest army on the planet and conquered the world.
And herein lies the key to conquering your vacation. Traveling light. Because, guess what, even though it’s 200 years since the French Revolution, you still can’t pack your washer and dryer in a suitcase. You may be leaving behind a lot of moribund real life stuff, but one thing you cannot escape is doing laundry. Just because you’re visiting France, doesn’t mean you want to smell like French cheese. Here are the FIVE LAUNDRY LAWS OF TRAVELLING:
This is the first rule to preventing laundry crisis on vacation. I don’t like to pack more than four changes when I travel. That includes socks and underwear. You’re not going to the prom, you’re going on vacation, where you want to spend the majority of your time absorbing the culture, eating, drinking, relaxing, not choosing what to wear.
. I’ve tried it all, coin laundry, hiring hotel staff, buying new clothes, trust me, the best way to do laundry while traveling is to “hand wash.” You can do this in a drain or preferably a bath tub. You can use a sock to plug up the drain. Bring a bar of detergent soap before you travel (this not being liquid, it can even be a “carry on” item). Use it to scrub your filthy clothes (the filthier your clothes, the more monuments you’ve visited). When I say “hand wash”, I know you’re rolling your eyes like I’m your Dad telling you to take out the trash. It really doesn’t take long. Do one wash when you get to your hotel, hostel or room that night; do this while watching bizarre foreign television, or calling your parents to assure them you weren’t kidnapped and thus won’t need Liam Neeson to rescue you. Speaking of “taking out the trash”…
DO NOT LET YOUR LAUNDRY PILE UP
Because you will certainly be taking out the trash – in the form of your clothes. I’ve spent an entire vacation day doing laundry. I beg others to benefit from my suffering. You DO NOT want this memory… a beautiful, exotic city, the sun shines perfectly, the monuments look majestic, the people are beautiful and you’re in your hotel room washing your smelly clothes (extra smelly because you neglected them for so long). One wash in the evening takes 5-10 minutes. A pile is not that merciful. Additionally, if you’re traveling in a group, beware of monopolizing the bathroom. Travelling is usually coupled with people eating strange foods and… needing the bathroom, if you get my meaning. One wash will prevent you from monopolizing this bathroom. You’re going to need to use it right away at some point, and you do want Karma to act when you do. This also goes back to “packing light.” The fear of wearing a cloak of nasty clothes or walking around naked will force you to wash clothes. Which brings me to…
ALWAYS HAVING SOMETHING TO WEAR
I don’t care if it’s a tee-shirt, a bathrobe, an apron… you need something to wear while doing your laundry. You might want to go out to get snacks. You may Skype with your parents. There could be a fire. What you don’t want to be is “the way God created you” for hours. And no, a leaf will not do it. Have a “laundry outfit” handy. Trust me on this. I once had to room with another guy who walked around the room like it was a nude beach while waiting for his clothes to dry. The foreign TV was weird enough. In order to prove to him how uneasy this made me feel, I did the same thing (and he chose never to room with me again). Don’t be in this predicament. Drying clothes takes time, which brings me to…
DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE DRYING
This fifth law is the longest, but also the most important. Someone once said, “what goes up must come down”, but unfortunately, nobody ever said, “what gets wet, must get dry.” Because sometimes, things don’t dry. Like your clothes. It’s easy to forget this when you’re used to living in a culture full of dryers. Two things that are not guaranteed when you travel is a) not everyone speaks English and b) dryers may not be common in the exotic town you are visiting.
Thankfully, one thing that does travel with you, and which you don’t have to pack in your suitcase, is… the sun. The sun is everywhere on this planet, and it can be known to get really hot at certain times of the year. That’s when you hang up your clothes outside with clothes pins and let them dry (Without the risk of anyone stealing them. Trust me, nobody is going to climb several stories and risk breaking their neck to steal your moldy bras and underwear).
If the sun is not available in your destination, you can drape the clothes on a heater, which requires constant monitoring. There is also the “burrito” technique where you wrap your clothes in a towel and beat it against a wall, while you’re watching bizarre foreign television or talking on the phone (or Skype) with your parents, assuring them for the upteenth time that you do not need the help of Mr.Neeson to get back home.
Another technique I discovered is using your own body heat to dry you clothes. Insert the wet clothes beneath your sheets (depending on how wet, you may want to insert a plastic bag). Lie on top of the clothes, sleep, wake up and voila, you’re on top of dry clothes!
Generally, how you dry depends on your sleeping arrangements. You may not have access to a balcony or a heater or even a bathroom. Plan accordingly. Ask to see pictures of your room. Discover your drying advantages and disadvantages. Some hotel or hostels provide irons and ironing boards. This is the kind of “free press” I like. I’ve had a suitcase full of wet, moldy clothes before and I don’t wish that on my worse cheese eating enemy.
You are not going to war, but you still want to make Napoleon proud by being flexible, packing light, being prepared for anything. Preventing “laundry crisis” will maximize your time to have fun, see monuments, and even relax and do nothing. And when you get your picture taken and say “cheese”, you won’t be secretly thinking about the pile in your hotel room.
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