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Cant imagine doing laundry on vacation

Hi everyone. I'm planning a trip June, 2017, to Germany for two weeks and a RS tour the year after. So next year was going to be my first test in packing for two weeks in a carry on bag. June in Bavaria is warm enough so lighter weight clothes with a jacket may work. I'm of average size, not small, and older so clothes aren't tiny and shorts in Europe aren't the norm. Anyone able to pack for two weeks using a carry on without having to do laundry. It's not a vacation to me if I have to do laundry and worry if things will dry.

Posted by
4063 posts

Laundry in a local Laundromat is an easy solution. Sitting with the locals will tell you as much about local culture as lounging in a sidewalk café. In some parts of Europe there will be an attendant who will run the machine for you, charging much less than a hotel service.

Posted by
2644 posts

I don't really do much laundry - I don't go to laundromats. I try to have an apartment with a washing machine at a few strategic points in my trip and then I just do wash when I'm sitting around in the evening. I don't tend to wash my shirts or pants unless I've had some sort of eating disaster.

But I DO wash a few things here and there in my hotel sink and dry them in the room....especially on a trip where I don't have any apartments with washing machines booked. I pack really small for 2 or 3 weeks at a time. Pants I wear a few times, shirts get worn twice or thrice and they're all usually fine since we don't travel in the heat of summer so I don't wash them. Undergarments/socks etc just get washed in the sink.

So it all works out...everything is "clean enough" as I travel around and when I get home I just upend my entire suitcase into my dirty laundry pile:)

Posted by
2470 posts

I do a little hand laundry as I go especially when in hot and humid locales. So I pack shirts, underwear, etc. that is polyester and quick drying. Normally in cooler climates I can wear my shirts several times before they need washing and pants can go for 3 or 4 days. I draw the line at underwear. That gets worn once and then washed. It's not a big deal. On the RS tours, there will be a day part way through the trip where you will be told where there is a laundry that will do your washing for you. I have never needed to do that, however.

Posted by
2393 posts

I wouldn't worry about shorts or capris - wear em if that is what you are comfortable in. Doing laundry is actually a great way to meet some locals and get some great tips. Last time we did laundry in Munich we met a lovely young man who sent us to a great place for lunch.

Posted by
5837 posts

If you don't want to do your own laundry, German hotels following the German Hotel Classification System that are rated at three stars or higher offer laundry service:
http://www.hotelsterne.de/categories.html?&L=1
A required amenity for German 3-star properties includes:
Sewing kit, shoe polish utensils, laundry and ironing service
If you move up to a 5-star property, service standards include:
Ironing service (return within 1 h), shoe polish service

It comes down go what you are willing to pay for "a vacation to me if I have to do laundry and worry if things will dry. The typical participant of this forum, including this writer, is too economizing to pay for hotel laundry service and some, including this writer, will spend the 15 minutes or so each day sink washing and towel squeeze drying under garments daily, and over garments as they age to save a few Euros and luggage space.

Posted by
3521 posts

Since I don't own enough seasonal clothes to go two weeks without doing laundry even at home, doing laundry on a RS tour trip is not a big problem for me. Packing for more than about 10 days so as to not do laundry is impossible for me. Rolling things tightly, I can get 5 pair of light khaki pants and about six light shirts into the standard RS convertible bag along with all the other stuff I need and I am not a small person. (As I age and require more medical stuff daily, it is getting more difficult to do that unfortunately.)

There has always been a point in the RS tours where the guide will announce that it is the laundry stop and the hotel will offer a reduced price wash & dry service where your laundry is returned usually later that day. In many places, there are laundromats near the hotels which will do a wash & dry service as well. This is a simple all in one load service though, so if you have any clothes that require specific washing instructions, they will not be included in the price.

I guess you could pack enough lightweight clothes to last a full two weeks into a single carry on if you are willing to wear some things for a couple or three days (I have done it on those trips where I am not super active).

Posted by
18574 posts

Your choices might include renting an apartment with a washer and a dryer or having the hotel do the laundry or doing a little research before you leave and find laundry services near where you stay. I like the last option as some of my best experiences when traveling involve interacting with local businesses. Great way to meet people and have conversations about culture and life.

Posted by
25 posts

This is our first trip to the same area you're planning to visit, and I'm having the same questions. I've been trying some clothing items for a sink wash and then checking to see if they dry overnight, here at home. I am of the mind that I'll just wear capris/pants without washing, unless I spill something on them :) But, socks and underwear, along with some tops I am practicing to see if they dry. It doesn't take very long to sink wash, so I plan to do my clothes that way. Now, my husband is of the mind to use hotel laundry...we'll see....:) I should say we would also prefer to only take carryon luggage, and the weight limit of 17.5 lbs and size limit of 55x40x23 cm are quite a challenge when packing for my husband who would like to take an extra set of shoes. You've got plenty of time to experiment! :)

Posted by
5 posts

Last fall on our trip, we spaced out two different laundry mat visits and I took pictures at both and we talked (to the best of our ability) with locals and really enjoyed the break from tourist. I made a Shutterfly book of our trip and included our pics at the laundry mats and everyone gets a chuckle out of them, but those are some of our treasured memories. Fun, fun!

Posted by
14580 posts

I don't pack for only carry-on if the trip is three weeks or more, calculate doing laundry every 5-7 days or have it done by the Pension. The amount I carry as check-in luggage is to last with laundry washing a month or more. Doing laundry in a hotel sink is easy, ie underclothes, socks, shirt collars, since I don't use the apt option. There are small Tide packets of concentrate, the Germans have "Rei" for exactly hotel sink washing. I bring all those. When I get to the hotel say at 1700, what am I going to do for the next two hours before going to dinner? Take a short nap or wash a few pieces of laundry in the sink. so your supplies don't run out.

Posted by
16004 posts

Doing laundry doesn't bother us a bit. We do it even on our U.S. trips as those usually involve crawling through some wet/dusty/hot canyon and getting very dirty. We sink-wash/drip-dry some items on our European trips, and go to a coin laundry when that just isn't cutting it anymore. Washing clothes is part of the experience, and we've met some really interesting people doing the same thing!

Run a drip-dry test on your clothes before you go, make sure all tops go with all bottoms, and don't bring anything you'll only wear once. Dark bottoms are best as they don't show dirt so can go quite awhile before needing a wash.

Posted by
7061 posts

I pack for one week and plan to do laundry every 6-7 days. I don't hand wash and I rarely use a laundromat, although I have on occasion used one if I have a down day. I will either stay in an apartment with washer or I will find some kind of laundry service (not hotel laundry - too expensive) that will wash and dry a load for a reasonable amount - drop off in the morning, pick up in the afternoon. I have never had any trouble finding some place and I budget the cost in my total trip budget, it's a small luxury that I find worth paying for.

Posted by
64 posts

Like you, I am not interested in doing laundry on vacation, but do so, in order to pack efficiently. We learned to pack lightly while doing several Rick Steves tours in the past. Since then, we have traveled all over the world in multiple climates for two months at a time with only carry-on luggage. Only when we have done trips longer than that have we sometimes resorted to checking luggage. We are not rustic, backpacking people, but wear attractive, casual, easy care clothing that can be washed in our hotel bathroom sink and, most of which, will dry overnight or even within a few hours. It only takes a few minutes if you choose your wardrobe accordingly. You have plenty of time to experiment with clothing choices....I strongly suggest you "audition" some items, by washing them by hand at home and hanging them in your bathroom to dry....Really....You will be fine. Initially, we brought along a large microfiber Rick Steves towel to absorb water from our clothes before hanging. It does not take much space in your luggage. Now, we leave that home and just use a hotel towel, as needed, since some clothes don't need to be blocked at all. My husband's clothes are much larger and heavier than mine, but he has been washing them in hotel sinks for years. We used to bring travel soap (available on the Rick Steves website), then discovered that a drop of hotel shampoo or body wash in a sink filled with water works just as well. Only once in all our trips have we stayed in a hotel that prohibited guests from hanging laundry in their rooms.....It was on a Rick Steves tour, in a family owned hotel, with a bossy owner in Bacharach, Germany. I think her rationale was that she wanted guests to pay the hotel to do their laundry. Now, if you really cannot fathom doing laundry in your sink, you can probably still fit enough clothes for 14 days in your carry-on, assuming you are willing to mix & match and wear your shirts & pants more than once. Good luck with what ever you decide!

Posted by
19156 posts

Cant imagine doing laundry on vacation

I, OTOH, can't imagine carrying around a heavy bag with 2 weeks worth of clothes. Or wearing dirty clothes!

It's not a vacation to me if I have to do laundry and worry if things will dry.

First, I never have to worry if things will dry. After several trips where I discovered that laundromats are not as ubiquitous as some people want you to think they are, I started assembling a travel wardrobe of quick-drying clothes. All my underwear and shirts are cotton/polyester blend and dry quickly. In over 100 days of travel with these clothes, they have never failed to dry overnight. No worry.

I don't wash slacks unless I stay somewhere with washing facilities. I wear one pair over and carry another two pairs. That has worked well for me for 9 2-week trips. My last trip was for three weeks, and I planned a stop in the middle in an apartment with washing facilities.

The rest of my clothes I wash in the evening before I go to bed. I use this time anyway to write in my journal and on my website, I send emails, I enter my expenses from the day on my expenses website, I post to this website, and I watch a little TV - CNN to keep up on what is happening in the world and local TV to practice my German - and prepares for the next day. During this time I wash out my underwear and shirt from the day. I run warm water in the sink and rub my bar of ivory soap on the clothes, particularly any particularly soiled part. Then I let it soak for, maybe, a half hour while I do other things. I come back and rinse them in warm water to get the soap out, then fill the sink with water as hot as my hand can stand. I rinse the clothes in the very hot water, then squeeze out all the water I can with my hands. Then I put the hot clothes in the bathmat (I don't mind stepping out of the shower in the morning onto a soggy mat, but I don't want to use a soggy towel to dry) and wring out as much water as I can. I hang the underwear on "dripdry clothes pins" and the shirt on an inflatable hanger which allows air to circulated. Everything always dries overnight.

Secondly, I would rather wash a few clothes every night than deal with a heavy bag - that's my vacation.

Posted by
11613 posts

Okay, time for me to give my portable washing machine tip to my fellow sink-washers: pack a 2.5 gallon ziplock Baggie. Every few days, I fill the Baggie with water, laundry soap and dirty clothes. Leaving no air in the Baggie, I zip it up and "agitate" the bag as if I were a washing machine. I let the clothes soak, do some other stuff, then empty the bag into the sink and rinse the clothes, either in the sink or back in the Baggie. Wring out the clothes, pat out some moisture, then hang to dry. I turn the Baggie inside out so it dries and I can pack it for the next wash.

The whole process takes 20 minutes not counting soak cycle, and I'm in my hotel room anyway, so no time wasted.

Posted by
437 posts

I don't wash things every day - I air out pants and shirts overnight, then every few days I'll wash 3 or 4 sets of underwear and socks. Sometimes I will wash a shirt or two, but I do laundry when we arrive in a new place and things have at least two nights to dry. When the room has a towel-warming rack, things dry very quickly. Even if you check your bag, carrying too much stuff is more exhausting than doing laundry.

Do a test packing at home and try carrying two weeks of clothing and all your supplies up and down a flight of stairs a few times, then decide if you would enjoy carrying more stuff or washing occasionally.

Enjoy the planning and the trip!

Posted by
1878 posts

My wife and I have generally been able to find a place that will do our laundry for us on our ~15 Europe trips. On on recent Ireland trip it was an cleaners next door to our B&B in Dingle. If you get smart wool socks or Nike dry-fit cotton, you can where them for days without them feeling grungy. Likewise Ex-Officio quick dry underwear, which are admittedly pricey at $20 per pair at REI (but if you have to wash them in the sink, they are indeed quick drying). I am generally skeptical about packing cubes, but on our Ireland trip I used them for socks and underwear and they were great.

Posted by
108 posts

I realize this is sacrilege to say on a Rick Steves site, but there's no law saying you can't check a bag. One should be cognizant of how heavy the bag is, how often you're moving locations while on your trip, and how you're traveling to ensure that the larger bag won't be a burden on you. But, it's absolutely ok to check a bag if you feel like that's a better fit for your circumstances. Everyone has to weigh the pros and cons and figure out what's the best solution for them and what will make their trip most enjoyable.

Posted by
9792 posts

If you don't want to do laundry, don't do laundry. Have the hotel service do it. Easy.

Posted by
5450 posts

You pay thousands for a trip to Europe, so use the hotel's laundry service on key pieces for a few Euro. Your vacation time is precious.

Posted by
1224 posts

I always wash my clothes in the sink since I don't want to lug around a ton of stuff. I include a laundry line in my bag and every other night use shampoo or whatever to wash what is dirty and let it dry overnight. Sometimes it is before dinner if I have time, otherwise after, and even occasionally while I am in the shower. I am to cheap to pay for it.

Posted by
1080 posts

I find it is easy to do a little laundry every 3td night right before we leave for supper and in the morning everything is dry and ready to go. It is so much easier to just pack 2 pairs of pants and a pair of shorts, five shirts and I'm good to go (remember I wear one of those shirts and pants on the way) also it is fairly simple to pack in a carry-on/backpack. It probably takes 10-15 min to do the laundry so I don't see this as taking anything away from my vacation time, plus I only take clothes that are designed to dry quickly.

Posted by
276 posts

Thank you everyone. I gained a lot of insight and it was very helpful. A little story as background. I went to Israel last August and my checked bag was lost for the first 6 days of my trip. August in Israel is HOT. You sweat on sweat. I only had the clothes on my back and nothing to sleep in all with a roommate I didn't know. I washed in the sink and by morning the only item that dried was my undies which soon became wet when I sat down in my still very wet capris. So I guess I'm a little gun shy. But I am going to practice and pack what will work best. Another side note. My friend and I went to Germany for the Christmas markets a few years back. Traveling by train was very easy with one exception. I had a large checked bag and needed another because I bought too much. My friend had 4 bags of varying sizes plus a few recycle bags she purchased. Getting on the train was a little like Throwing Mama from the Train in reverse. I'm sure we were the comic relief for the locals. Fun times, great memories, but I want to be less burdened, more free. This should be a fun experiment. Again thank you all.

Posted by
2349 posts

So you have the experience of losing a checked bag, and of having too much to carry around. The solution is to have a carry on with less stuff, and doing laundry one way or the other. Your choices are paying for a service, spending a few hours in a laundromat, or doing bits in the sink. For one week, I just do undies and the occasional dirty shirt. For two weeks, I'd hit the laundromat or pay for it. Actually, I'd probably send my husband to the laundry. He loves to do laundry on vacation. I think it's the sense of accomplishment.

I remember one camping trip when the kids were small. A rainy trip. On the way home, the whole back third of the borrowed conversion van was full of dirty laundry. Some of it mildewed before we got back. That was a smelly drive.

About Zoe's 2.5 gallon zip bag system. This is what I do as well. It's especially useful if your hotel sink does not plug up well, or worse, doesn't drain well.

Posted by
10311 posts

As long as it's warm and you aren't staying in a place with two-foot wide stone walls, little things and synthetics should dry over night. Zoe's system makes it easy. Right now we're in a rainy village, staying in an old stone building where nothing dries and getting ready for the only laundry to open tomorrow afternoon. Probably every tourist in town has been waiting since last week.

Edit: the only laundry in town had a fire the day after they washed our clothes.

Posted by
19156 posts

You pay thousands for a trip to Europe, so use the hotel's laundry service on key pieces for a few Euro.

A few Euro? I wish that were true.

My first trip to Europe was on business and we were instructed to take enough clothes for about a week and send some out to be cleaned. End of the first week I did exactly that, and the cost of laundry for about 5 days was more than a night in the hotel. The company was paying for it and didn't flinch, but I learned my lesson then.

German hotels following the German Hotel Classification System that
are rated at three stars or higher offer laundry service:

Newsflash. Replace * with $. $$$ hotels are more expensive than $ hotels. And they only offer the laundry service. That doesn't mean it's free (or even economical).

Posted by
3521 posts

Lee,

Was that for laundry, or dry cleaning? Dry cleaning is excessively expensive no matter where you have it done. On the other hand, I have never spent more than €20 for 5 pair of pants, 6 shirts, and assorted underwear at the hotels where the RS tour has negotiated a deal. I have spend as little as €5 at a laundromat to wash and dry the same amount of clothes (all stuffed in one load no special handling). I do agree that most hotels where laundry is charged by the piece it can get very expensive very quickly.

Posted by
5450 posts

For laundry at a smaller hotel, I have never paid more than 20 euro for a few key pieces.

Posted by
7404 posts

When we took our first RS tour 13 years ago and found out we would need to wash clothes to fit within the carry-on size, I thought, "What a waste of time when we're on vacation." I was picturing myself stuck in a laundry facility. But, we don't take any time away from our vacation time. We wash 2-3 days of clothes at a time in the hotel sink when we're ready to relax. So, I'm washing underwear, then a couple of dresses or outfits for 10 minutes while my hubby is checking his e-mail. Then, while I look over our plans for the next day he's washing his clothes for 10 minutes. We both will wear pants a few times in between washing; otherwise, we wash everything. We're both average size, too, & close to 60. We've used this method for all 7 trips (2-3 weeks ea.) to Europe.

Posted by
14175 posts

Highlanderct, as you probably figured you will get a wide variety of experiences on this forum. Whichever method people use, you know these are people's actual experiences and not just general advice. The experiences you related are very interesting. Yuck on being stuck with no luggage and yes, comic relief throwing Mama ON the train!

Since you have a year, I suggest you work on the clothes and actual fabrics you will take with you and if you like, try some trial washes well ahead of time. If you do it this summer you have time to work out what works best in the current season so you can replace those clothes.

I am a sink-washer and use Zoe's bag method. BUT I will have trialed washing at home beforehand on anything that is new to the travel team! Just going by fabric content doesn't really tell you the whole story. Sometimes a poly blend takes way longer to dry than you think it should and sometimes a 100% cotton dries quicker than you might think.

With just 2 weeks, you might be able to manage with 3 pr pants (wear 1, pack 2) and 5 or 6 shirts with airing in between.

You also have plenty of time to trial a capsule wardrobe and see if it will work for you to wear the same small number of items over a 2 week period without washing. For great ideas about capsule wardrobes are you familiar with The Vivienne Files blog? She has excellent ideas on putting colors together altho sometimes the choices she uses are either too formal for my extremely casual lifestyle or more than I want to pay. (Cracked up because she had a Tee shirt in one of her groupings this last week that was $1,200!!! To be fair she also uses clothes from Lands End and LLBean)

Also, advice here is to pack on paper first. Develop a packing list (based on your capsule wardrobe) and stick to it.

You are going to have so much fun on this the next year. I have to admit I love to do wardrobes and trial packs!

Posted by
276 posts

Hi Pam,

Everything about a vacation is exciting to me. Even the packing, one year out, is fun. Thanks for the blog tip. I hadn't seen the blog site you referenced. I will look at that. I like Zoe's idea as well. All great tips. I will need to invest in a new carry on bag. And now I have an excuse to go shopping for end of season discounts for light weight vacation clothes. I've taken mostly no hassle, escorted trips where my luggage is taken care of for me. But I've since branched out and doing more travel on my own and realize how nice it would be to travel light. RS tours seem to be somewhere in the middle. I hope to see any of you on a future RS tour.

Posted by
15580 posts

On my current 10 week trip, I started out by doing hand wash using ziploc bags. Unfortunately, the new quick drying shirts weren't quick drying especially in the cold, damp weather I've been treated to at most stops.

So, I switched to trying to find coin laundries. My hotel in Glasgow advertised a self-service coin laundry on their website. When I got there, they said they had no laundry and thought I was nuts. I pointed it out on their website, they claimed they didn't know it was there, and offered to do my laundry for free.

Now, I mostly let the hotel do my laundry. Yes, it costs more, but my new motto is simple:

Life is short. Do what makes you happy.

If doing everything the cheapest way makes you happy, then do that. If you want to send your laundry out, then do that. It doesn't matter what anyone else does. Do what makes you happy. It's your money, your time, your life. No one else's.

There will be a few people here who will yell and scream because you do something different from them. But that's their problem.

Posted by
14580 posts

In Germany I have not paid for a good size bag of laundry (no shirts, pants eg, Dockers) stuffed with socks, underclothes, light towels, etc. done by the Pension more than 4 Euro. The set price is 4 Euro.

Posted by
139 posts

I don't travel often, but when I shop for clothes now, I find myself looking for good travel candidates. Nothing heavy or fussy (can be washed on what Sarah Murdoch calls the Careless Cycle.) Cotton-blend tops and simple knit cardis work for me. I prefer to keep my bag with me, so that means packing light. I also prefer doing sink laundry every few days rather than risk losing a checked bag. My clothes are not small, but I've learned to adapt. This paid off when we took trains from Rome to Paris. Easy to maneuver a light 20" roller and small backpack. It was worth the effort to change how I packed.

That said, I went to Israel for 3 weeks in the days before I learned to pack light. Took a big rolling duffle, and I used everything I had because we got so dusty every day. (Was a grad student and couldn't afford hotel laundry.). Not sure I could do a trip like that one with carryon. Can't stand quickly-dry tech fabrics.

Posted by
1253 posts

I don't like carrying even two days of dirty underwear, socks or shirts, let alone two weeks worth. I try to do wash daily to keep everything fresh. I like to go for a run and i get pretty sweaty on hot days, I pack extra items not out of need for clean clothes but for the variety so that my photos do not look like i wear the same shirt everyday. On our cruise last year, the sink was about the size of a small salad bowl. I could not sink wash anything without splashing. So i made like Kramer on Seinfeld. I washed everything while showering in the evening.

Posted by
14580 posts

True, I put it at one full week in carrying a load of dirty laundry. Two weeks or more is usually beyond my limit of fresh supplies. It's also bulky when jammed into a bag. Not a bad idea washing the pieces in the shower.

Posted by
11613 posts

Good point, MrsEB. I sometimes send a box back (usually filled with books, wine, oil), and throw some clothing into it (things I no longer need). I also buy a few cheap t-shirts, and don't mind leaving some things behind.

But, I take long trips (89 nights), so I have to do laundry sometime.

Posted by
16894 posts

Yes, I do travel for two weeks with a carry-on sized bag and don't do laundry within that time. Our "standard" recommendation of about 3 bottoms and 5 or 6 shirts works fine for me, to mix, match, and re-wear. Fourteen t-shirts certainly can be made to fit but I would rather re-wear a shirt than carry a duplicate.

Posted by
7061 posts

Personally I was thinking that 7 add'l t-shirts might fit in your carry-on but even t-shirts weigh a few ounces and 7 of them would add some unwelcome weight to that carry-on. Stuffing everything you could possibly need for 2 weeks into a carry-on somewhat defeats the purpose of going carry-on only, that of 'traveling light'. And shipping some home mid-trip is more expensive (and possibly more time consuming) than sending out a load of laundry to be done while you are sightseeing, either at the hotel laundry or a commercial laundry. I've never paid more than €10-15 for a load to be wash, dried, and folded, ready for me to pick up at the end of the day. And I know that sending a box home costs more than that.

Posted by
2533 posts

In trying to weigh and balance time, cost, convenience, sociability, along with considering that it's a vacation, I usually manage to do laundry just once and often not at all on two-week or a little longer trips.

My strategy is to go to GoodWill a few weeks before I leave, and to combine some prudent purchases there with a few worn-out items from the back of my own closet. Wear them at the beginning of the trip, and throw them out as I go along. About half-way through the trip I stop in to a C&A or an El Corte Ingles and get a package of undies and t-shirts as needed to get through the rest of the trip.

Voila: time spent shopping is usually less than time spent in a laundromat (with the fringe benefit of meeting local people), cost is about equal to or less than paying for hotel laundry, convenience is high, and I may not win any fashion awards but I also don't worry about getting messy.

And the cost factor can be even lower if you wear your souvenir t-shirts at the end of the trip, and make use of the semi-legal street sellers hawking cheap clothes along the main thoroughfares on their tarps. Plenty of room for purchases in my carry-on coming back, and the photos are often the only evidence I have of having ever worn a particular shirt or pair of pants.

Posted by
276 posts

Good advice and opinions from everyone. Most of my early travel years were spent with escorted tours where we spent most of our time touring with a few moments here and there for souvenir shopping. My last tour we were on the bus at 7:30am and back home by 7pm. All biblical sites with no shopping let alone laundromats. Truly a spiritual tour. I loved every minute of it and can't wait to return. But I have learned from that tour about what I really need and what I don't. Whether I wash in a sink, through hotel services or laundromats or don't wash at all will totally depend on the tour company, destination and time allowed. RS tours have a lot of time built in on our own. So it seems it's much easier to pack very light and wash. Touring on my own even easier. Other tour companies I've traveled with use modern hotels with modern amenities including laundry. In the past I stuffed checked bags to max weight allowed. Never really thought much about lightening my load until I watched RS. I'll be a much smarter packer from now on.

Posted by
2529 posts

Washing clothes in sinks takes me maybe five minutes...easily accomplished. Steps: wash using Forever New, a concentrated powdered soap, wring dry and hang up using "J" plastic clips for small items and an inflatable hanger for shirts. Fast. Cheap. I recall one time a relative was traveling with us and he used a commercial laundry. He spent more time schlepping his clothes to/from once he found it, and the cost was significant. Find what works for you.

Posted by
56 posts

If I'm doing a two week trip, I'll pack for a week. After a week I will drop all my dirty clothes off at a local laundromat in the morning and have them do the washing / drying and pick-up later in the afternoon. I'm somewhat of a clean freak and so I will pay the service fee to have them do it. Local laundromats are usually not hard to find. Just google "laundry service" in the town your are in and one will be close by. For example, Florence has three within a ten minute walk of each other and are centrally located. Amsterdam likewise, etc.

Posted by
138 posts

I usually hand-wash without any problem, because I like to stay at least two nights in each hotel or hostel anyway. I hang it in the shower on the first day, and by the second day it may still be damp, but can be hung unobtrusively in the closet without dripping.
However I have occasionally used the laundries recommended by the RS guidebooks, and have been pleased with the convenience and results. I like to follow Rick's suggestion that I can hold my bag up with just a finger, for 10-15 seconds or so. The small hotels and hostels are what I like, which means the bag must be carried up flights of stairs.
My travel wardrobe tends to consist of leggings and tunics, over a t-shirt. The T-shirts, socks and undies get washed daily, but I might wear the leggings or the tunic several days before washing. I like to dress up the look with scarves and jewelry, neither of which require washing during my trip.

Posted by
108 posts

I'd like to point out that there are various options in between traveling carry-on only and doing laundry in the sink and "stuffed checked bags to max weight allowed." I do absolutely get wanting to travel lighter and not lug around a massive suitcase, and I absolutely sympathize with your predicament when your checked bag was lost and you were stuck without additional clothes for six days. If carry on only is the way you want to go, then by all means go for it! I've done plenty of carry-on only trips and it can be freeing, and it's definitely easier to move around.

However, I do feel obligated to point out that it's not an either/or situation with regard to stuffing a checked bag to the max weight allowed and going carry-on only. It's possible to bring a small carry-on with a day or two worth of clothes to cover you if your checked bag is delayed and to check a bag that's not maxing out the size/weight requirements and still travel comfortably, without being overburdened. I've had checked bags delayed and have been very thankful that i had pajamas and a couple changes of clothes in my carry on, and I do make sure to have anything I'd need in the first 48 hours or so of a trip in my carry-on (pajamas, medications, change of clothes, any special event stuff like a dress for a wedding, etc.) in case the checked bag goes walkabout. I do some travel that's different than your average Rick-nik, and under certain circumstances, I've also checked a rolling duffle that was nowhere near full (weighing in at around 20lbs on the scale when checked in) and had no problems traveling with it. If you keep the checked bag reasonable enough, it doesn't have to be a burden. With the aforementioned checked rolling duffle, it's light enough that I can fairly easily pick it up if needed when climbing stairs, getting on to a train, etc.

So, by all means go with what works well for you, but don't feel like there's only one right or wrong solution. It doesn't have to be all or nothing with either checked or carry on luggage.

Posted by
9792 posts

Sarah -- this is exactly what i was thinking. To avoid the situation where you arrive in a hot place and have no changes of clothes for 6 days, pack pjs, a change of underwear, and one change of clothes in your carry-on. That way you still have an option if your checked bag (if you choose to check one) gets hung up somewhere -- but you don't have to pack your carry-on to the gills.

And as many here have said, it's whatever's right for YOU that you should do. And heck, what you as a person prefer may vary according to the type of trip, I know it does for me.

Posted by
79 posts

I spent 3 weeks in Munich in June 2013. We had rainy, 50 degree days and at the other extreme sunny, 90 degree days. I packed a variety of clothing for the temperature extremes but I still had to do laundry. Luckily we had a washer and dryer at the hotel to use for free. I packed a 24 inch suitcase since we were not going to be moving around, something I would never do again.

Posted by
2620 posts

I will never be able to do carry-on only, but I have learned how to make the right choices with clothes and have never had a problem washing things as I go. For 2 weeks I bring 5 pairs of panties and wash nightly until I'm set for the remainder, after 4 days I wash my jeans (lighter denim-spandex blend) and I know they will dry overnight or by the next day and I only bring 1 other pair. 1 spare pair of shoes, 1 jacket. My suitcase is by no means over-packed and sink-washing a pair of panties, socks and a top isn't going to ruin my vacation.

I have found that not all hotels have optimum drying places for laundry, nor do they always have hangers I can remove from the wardrobe, so I have some plastic single clippy things that work for socks and panties, and I bought a couple of light-weight plastic hangers with clips for jeans and tops--you want to position them where the air can circulate, if not by an open window.

Posted by
112 posts

Okay ... enough of the "technical stuff". Are we traveling to meet and enjoy new people and environments or what? I will only give one example of one of our laundromat experiences which came out of our four weeks of road and train travel in France last September. It was time for us to wash some clothing in Bayeux. We found the little laundromat and brought in our bags and were immediately face with a place with not attendant and a charging system which was very confusing. So we fumble a bit, not making a lot of progress. I lady doing sleeping bags saw we needed help. Our French is minimal, her English no better. But off we went as she asked for some change and began to work the machines for us. As the machines worked we pointed at our pictures, she at hers. We began to communicate and have fun. I ran around the corner and got some sandwich jambon and drinks. At the end our cloths were clean, we had a great experience and a new friend. Some times laundry is a bore, but we've experienced a few times you get to meet people and learn a little about the their lives. So get dirty and have fun.

Posted by
15580 posts

There's a product that allows you to use those hangers that can't be used outside the closet:

Convert-a-Hanger

They work really well and take up very little room.

Posted by
2393 posts

Me too Lee - they just stay in my suitcase, take no room and weigh next to nothing. Work great - and yes their width allows more air flow between the front and back of garment.

Posted by
15580 posts

I used to use those inflatable but switched to these:

Travelon Inflatable Hangers

They let you dry not only a shirt but anything else than needs to be hung up--undies, socks, etc. And, they weigh less than the original type mentioned above.

(Note--they're not strong enough to hold a pair of pants unless you're a Lilliputian.)

Posted by
630 posts

I used to use those inflatable but switched to these: Travelon
Inflatable Hangers

Frank II, I have purchased 4 of these from a previous recommendation of yours. I just wanted to send out a thank you for the recommendation. :^)

Posted by
2620 posts

Thank you, Frank--going to get some converters and maybe inflatable hangers make more sense than the plastic ones I had.

Posted by
15580 posts

Since I'm on a roll ( :) ) let me tell you about the new clothesline I'm using. I used to use the RS one but I found a new one from Lewis n Clark (To be honest, they sent me one at my request) that has both velcro loops and suction cups on each end, and rolls up into a its own case. It's braided just like the RS one but it seems to take up less space.

Lewis N Clark Travel Clothesline

Posted by
630 posts

Since I'm on a roll ( :) ) let me tell you about the new clothesline
I'm using. I used to use the RS one but I found a new one from Lewis n
Clark (To be honest, they sent me one at my request) that has both
velcro loops and suction cups on each end, and rolls up into a its own
case. It's braided just like the RS one but it seems to take up less
space. Lewis N Clark Travel Clothesline

Thanks, Frank II, I like how it has its own bag to contain itself.

Posted by
19156 posts

They let you dry not only a shirt but anything else than needs to be
hung up--undies, socks, etc. And, they weigh less than the original
type mentioned above.

With all due respect, Frank, I weighed my inflatable hangers, which I think are the ones to which I linked, speced at 3.2 oz shipping weight, with a postal scale, and as close as I can determine, they weigh 1½ oz each. How much lighter are the Travelon hangers?

I don't consider the hooks to be a significant feature. They wouldn't work for me. Not for my shorts and socks. I use laundry hooks for those. They are even lighter than the inflatable hangers, hold the item tight, and fit over the towel rack or shower curtain rod.

So the only "advantage" to the Travelon hangers is that, even if you buy enough from Amazon to get free shipping, the still cost more, $8.65, than the ones I showed, $7.49 with shipping.

By the way, for years I carried one of Rick's clothes lines, with Velcro ends, but could never find places to hang it. Then I got a line with suction cups and found they would stick to flat tile walls, hold all night, and didn't leave marks. Perfect!

Posted by
15580 posts

I did weigh mine when I first got them and they were 0.5 oz lighter each. (Less material to blow up.) But yes, they are a little more than a dollar more. (I weighed them because I wrote about them and wanted to compare them to typical inflatable hangers.)

So the big question is.....which is more important to save--the dollar or the ounce. (Final Jeopardy music please.)

The nice feature of my new clothesline is that is has both velcro loops AND suction cups. I used both recently in a hotel--the velcro end attached to the towel holder at one end of the tub and the suction cup against the far wall.

By the way, that clothesline is also available at REI. (LIttle known fact--Lewis N Clark makes all of the REI brand travel accessories.)

Posted by
110 posts

We just got back from two weeks abroad and traveled solely by one carry-on size bag each. We never "did" laundry, in that we didn't waste three hours watching our undies tumble, but we did pay to have our laundry done twice. Each time was 10 GBP/15 USD (once in rural England, once in downtown London) at the drop-off service. Drop off in the morning and come back an hour before closing to fresh clothes. Worth every penny, especially on vacation.

Posted by
518 posts

I agree with someone above that said they can't imagine traveling for two weeks with all those clothes, as a response to the OP. As the trip wears on, the luggage just seems to get heavier and you want to travel lighter. Traveling in the summer means you'll also be hotter and sweating more and probably wouldn't want to wear clothes too many times. I hate sweating (outside of actual exercise) especially during travels and the more you sweat, the more times you have to change clothes or do laundry but when I can't avoid it I have no probably doing it. One thing I do for efficiency and convenience is with regards to the one item of clothing you really, really wouldn't want to re-wear every day or even more than one day..........yep, your underwear. I use Ex-Officio which uses the most amazing material in terms of comfort, breathability, and drying times. I actually shower before bed, with the underwear on, give it a quick scrub and rinse and then after the shower roll it up in the towel and wring, and by morning it's dry. I do this literally every night and it's really very very little additional effort. As a result I can travel with only two pairs of underwear. With socks, I use Smartwool, and they perform so well I can wear them several days in a row with no smell or any other signs of prolonged wear. So again, I only need a couple pairs of socks. These brands cost a lot but they perform amazingly and I only need the two of each and am good for even long trips.

Posted by
76 posts

funpig, I hope you posted that for a laugh, because it's complete nonsense (not to mention poorly-written and full of spelling and grammar errors).

Posted by
7 posts

A number of years ago, I did 11 days in Germany going carry-on only (19” in the overhead plus a wheeled Delsey which went under the seat in front of me). We rented a car and visited a number of towns along the Rhein and then drove a part of the Romantische Strasse staying in some small towns along the way. If we stayed two nights; the first night was to do laundry and allow enough time for the items to dry. But during the two nights Augsburg, we decided to do our laundry at the local laundromat. While I will admit the process was an experience, in hindsight, we wasted 3 precious hours of our vacation time. If I wanted to watch my laundry spin about in a washer and dryer, I could do this at my local laundromat. But never again while on vacation!! On the upside, there was a bar next door!

Separately, if you're going to be in the mountains in Bavaria, be sure to take some warm clothing. I froze my tuckus off when visiting Neuschwanstein. Even though it was summer (August), I was definitely NOT prepared for the cool nights in the mountains.

Posted by
518 posts

We also like to use a laundromat every now and then, but only if it's convenient, meaning, if there's no wait (machines are available) and it's either near the hotel and also near where there's something we want to do, be it a restaurant, shopping area, etc. In Vernazza (Cinque Terre) there was one right next to a cafe where we could have lunch or coffee and in addition, the town is so small it really made no difference because we were a few minutes from everywhere in the town that we needed to be. Other times we've used laundry services, where we could drop off our clothes in the morning and then pick them up before the shop closes. This is a bit more convenient than a laundromat because you don't have to wait around for the clothes to finish, you just have to pick them up before the shop closes, but it is also a little more expensive than a coin-op laundromat. But by default, I usually wash my own clothes (especially underwear and t-shirts....heavier things like jeans and so on would require a laundromat or heaven forbid...the hotel laundry services).

Posted by
1253 posts

One of the few times that we used a coin laundromat during a trip, we did the laundry at dinner time. We popped all our clothes in the washer and went to a restaurant across the street. After about twenty minutes, after salad and appetizers and before the entree, I went back and transferred everything into the dryer. After dinner, we went back and picked up our clean clothes.

Posted by
630 posts

Funpig, we did that once - only to come back to a washer with less clothes than we put it. Someone had decided they needed my underwear and shirts more than I did.

We don't do laundry much on vaca (except sink washing), but when we do use a washing machine, I now bring a chair, book and iPad.

Posted by
1253 posts

Yes, that is the risk. I almost never give money to panhandlers. So, if somebody is so hard up that they need to steal my underwear, i say wear it well. I also follow and accept the laundromat etiquette that if the user does not return in time and all the other washers or dryers are being used., the clothes may be removed from the machine. This goes back to university days living in campus residence. Most people are pretty good, but you take your chances.

Posted by
630 posts

I agree with the washing machine/dryer etiquette. We used 1 machine and 3 others were empty. Someone just wanted my clothes. It didn't bother me that much as I felt they must have needed the clothes more than I did (not that I approve of stealing).

Posted by
420 posts

We are a family of 4. The idea of washing out 4 pairs of sweaty undies & socks nightly in a sink is gross. I loved the laundromats I used in Europe. I love being able to sit for 90 minutes and take a break. I love talking to other travelers and locals. I love having fresh clean cloths.