If you think you’ve packed enough, you’ve probably over-packed. The art of traveling light is a learned skill, but there are many facets to it and a big one is knowing how to do laundry while you’re on the road. There are a few different methods, each with its pros and cons.
First though, let me remind you that you can wear clothes more times than you’d think. Unless you smell extraordinarily bad and don’t wear deodorant (don’t be that traveler- WEAR DEODORANT), you can get away with wearing everything, underwear and socks aside, a few times. Shoot, jeans are only supposed to be washed once a month (I read it somewhere, I swear)!
The Sink Method
When the only things you need to wash are socks and underwear, the sink method is the best method. Just bring a baggie of powder laundry detergent from home (or pick up an individual pack from a store), fill up that sink with warm water, and voila! Drying a little trickier. If you don’t want to go with the clothesline method, ask the front desk if they have a blow dryer and go to town! You can wash more than your unmentionables in the sink, it just takes a lot longer to dry.
If you have a few hours to kill (which you probably won’t, unless you’re on a train or on the coach), you can always head to a Laundromat (coin-operated laundry service). This will end up costing you a few dollars, but if you have a lot of clothing and less money, it’s a good option. Also, be sure to befriend someone in the Laundromat, because their machines can be very different (some don’t have a spin cycle and will leave your clothes sopping wet). If you’re going with this method, a book of some sort or take the time to write in your journal, because leaving your clothes can be a bit questionable at times.
Again, your time in another country is more valuable, so the next option is my favorite.
Laundry service! This is cheaper than the laundry service at the hotel, but can take up to 24 hours. They will wash your clothes AND fold them (don’t accidentally call the person “Mom”). Just make sure you keep track of what you have and don’t send any clothing that you would die if it got ruined. These places often use very hot water and dry at hot temperatures, so your colors could fade and bleed a little and certain clothes (particularly rayon) might shrink to about half of their size and you’ll look like you’re wearing toddler clothes. Ask reception at your hostel or hotel where they recommend going.
The best thing about clothing is that it’s replaceable. Don’t consider it the end of the world if you lost something or ruined something while traveling. Take everything in stride and be able to laugh when someone walks into your room and sees your embarrassing unmentionables (we’re looking at you, comfy granny panties) hanging out to dry.