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Cleaning clothes between back to back tours

I'm considering doing the Scandinavian tour followed by the South England tour. So I think 4 weeks gone would be stretching my 'wash in the sink and dry overnight' mode of operation. Do you know if there are any self-wash places or drop off and pick up the same day places in either Bergen or Cambridge? The tour ends on a Saturday in Bergen and starts on a Monday in Cambridge.
I'd also appreciate any input on these two tours. Both look great to me.

Posted by
1213 posts

The South England tour starts in Canterbury (I just finished it). Yes, there are launderettes in Canterbury and I believe they have service wash (they do it and you pick it up later). Just Google "Canterbury launderette". That is how I found them.

Posted by
8203 posts

Just me but I’ve gone up to 8 weeks sink washing in a 2 gal ziplock bag for a washing machine!

This sounds like a good combo of tours! Completely different landscape, culture and food.

I see you’ve got a free day or two between tours. I really liked Canterbury and the tour does not have much time to see the city. I’m not sure if you plan to spend an extra night in Bergen but I would want to be in Canterbury on Sunday. Also, depending on your time and budget, if you’ve never been to Bath give yourself an extra night or 2 there.

Posted by
200 posts

I was just away for a month in Scandinavia and didn't machine wash clothes. The best advice I got was a thread on this part of the Forum about wearing pants ( I would extend it to skirts!) many times, either in a row ( like me, traveling on my own) or alternating ( if you think your tour mates will notice!)...So, by wearing each pair 5-7 days in a row and sink washing the tops and underwear, I managed with only 4 pair + yoga pants for the plane rides. I brought an empty compression bag and once I just couldn't stand the pants any longer, sealed them in, in the bottom of my carryon.
My other strategy is 1 sleepshirt/7-10 days, by taking a shower nightly. Probably if you have 2 nights in a hotel you could splurge to wash a pair of pants, if you don’t find or have time for a laundromat. With two different tours your new travelling companions won't know, right?

Posted by
2263 posts

I often travel for several weeks in Europe, generally combining solo independent travel with one or two Rick Steves tours. I generally travel with carry-on luggage, although some airlines low carry-on allowances make actually carrying-on impractical. I mostly take lightweight and quick-drying clothing, and regularly wash things out in a sink, especially on stays of more than one night in a room. A lot depends on the right conditions for drying things out. But, I am an imperfect washer, good at washing, not always so great at rinsing all the soap out. So I appreciate a commercial laundry once or twice during a trip, it’s nice to have everything really clean at the same time, like a fresh start. A service that picks up and drops off is a special (and unusual) treat. I cannot imagine that both Bergen and Cambridge would not have multiple self-serve laundries, there are thousands of students in Cambridge after all, just ask one of them, maybe you’ll get invited into a university facility. The question would just be if the locations are convenient for you. Among other things, spending an hour or more using a laundry often gets you beyond the touristy areas, and into neighborhoods or commercial areas.

Posted by
18745 posts

Today's Day 98, and I've done all my washing by hand. It's not really that time-consuming, and I do not trust heat settings on commercial dryers. I wouldn't want my carefully-selected (though certainly not otherwise special) wardrobe to shrink. Even at home I air-dry just about everything except socks, underwear and linens, and the first two are removed from the dryer while still damp. My condo building's commercial dryers run very hot even when set on "Low Heat".

I do have to travel with the recommended 2-gallon Zip-Lock bag (because the world is full of wash basins without stoppers) and a modest amount of powdered laundry detergent.

However, my tours are much slower-paced than tours, which gives me extra flexibility as to when I wash things, and as a summer traveler I find that a lot of things dry overnight. Nothing takes more than 24 hours if well squeezed-out and rolled in a towel. From earlier travels i know that you cannot count on that rate of drying in places like London if you hit 60ish (F) damp weather, which used to be common in late May and early June.

I only take one sleep-shirt. If washed in the morning it is dry when I return to the hotel after dinner. It's a lightweight knit fabric, 80% poly/20% rayon, which is not ideal for summer travel unless all hotel rooms are air-conditioned.

Posted by
936 posts

I would have no worries with back to back tours. You will find a launderette and start your second tour with fresh clean clothes. While traveling, this is what I do: Wear only one pair pants for several days in a row, then wash them, moving to your second pair of pants while the first hang and dry. If you rotate pants they will all be dirty at roughly the same time leaving you little to wear and pants dry slower! Choose to wash pants in a location where you will stay at least two nights so they have time to dry before repacking. Do it as soon as you check into the hotel, before you go back out with the tour on a city walk. Wash, wring, wrap in towel and stomp, shake and hang to dry. The guide usually allows 30 minutes after check in before doing a city walk so you have time.
My shirts dry faster than pants so I do tend to rotate those, washing after 3rd or 4th wear whether dirty or not. I wear my merino socks 2-3 days, then wash them as they are sort of stretched out. We tend to travel in fall and winter in the non sweaty months, so stink is not a factor, just wrinkles and the knowing they are well worn. We took the RS 21 day tour and hand washed along the way but used washing machine in two places. Do be wary about using the dryer if certain clothing items may shrink. Let those hang dry or only dry long enough to remove wrinkles. I had already lost ten pounds from all the walking while touring, but the pair of jeans that came out of the dryer in Paris were so small as to look painted on... when I got them on! I almost had to lie down on the bed to get into them hahahahaha!
We also make sure to carry two shirt hangers and one pants hanger in each of our backpacks as there is sometimes a shortage of hangers in the hotel rooms, or they can't be placed anywhere other than the closet.

Have a great time on your tours!!!

Posted by
6515 posts

Doesn’t the tour guide tell you when a hotel will do laundry, perhaps for a tour special price per bag? When you add up the expenses of the trip, laundry fees are a small part of the total and your time is valuable.. Either have the hotel do it for you or , better yet, find a laundry with a wash,dry, fold service, pay by the pound or kilo.

Posted by
860 posts

I went on the Scandinavia tour 2017 and really loved it. I don't have any additional advice about laundry.
I did feel that the tour time in Bergen was adequate, I would move on to your next tour and not spend an extra day there. It is a cute, quaint fishing village but too touristy for me.
Have a great trip!

Posted by
9632 posts

If your tour ends on Saturday and the new one starts on Monday I would suggest doing laundry in Canterbury ( not Cambridge) as you are there a few nights and can find a drop off service. Ask at your hotel.

Posted by
499 posts

Definitely have your laundry done in Cambridge. Also, check and see if they are open on Sunday depending on your travel from Bergen to Cambridge.

Posted by
16852 posts

I think it's a great tour plan and also agree with getting a good machine washing done in Canterbury. Rick's Scandinavia guidebook does suggest a drop-off laundry location in central Bergen but it's an overnight service, Mon-Fri only, no self-wash, so you'd have to make your way there on both of your free afternoons.

Posted by
769 posts

You could use the post office. Have a package with a new wardrobe (clean) delivered in advance to the first stop on the English tour. Then post the dirty stuff back home and quit worrying about hauling it around.

Or you can buy underwear and socks at the Euro stores, new clothes in the local markets, and either throw everything away or ship it home as you please.

My vacations are way to important for me to waste much time doing laundry, and frankly, clothes are cheap. Shoes/boots are where to spend your money.

Posted by
2788 posts

We took our 15th yearly one month trip to Europe in May. During that time we took two RS tours (Rome & Sicily). During all of those years we have only use a commercial laundromat once when staying in a B&B that prohibited sink laundry. Otherwise, we have always done sink washing for the entire month with no complaints.

Posted by
2708 posts

I will sometimes do sink laundry, but my preference is to stay in a hotel periodically that will do my laundry for me. For my one and only RS tour so far, that was the first hotel and a hotel mid-trip. If I were you, I would pick a hotel in Canterbury for two nights that would do the laundry, if the RS tour hotel doesn't. I've never been to a laundromat while traveling, although my daughter did do our laundry once in one (while I was sleeping...that's the best way to get one's laundry done). :-)

Posted by
1213 posts

To all the sink washing people, I have traveled for over 50 years and have never sink washed. We do NOT sink wash when we are at home and we will NOT sink wash when we are on vacation. There are many options to getting the laundry done: hotels, you would be amazed at how inexpensive that can be in SE Asia; laundromats both self service and service wash, you get to meet many locals in a laundromat; and B&B hostesses that want to earn an extra dollar/euro. These are variations we have used.

Posted by
50 posts

Thank you all for your replies. For my tours I've usually been gone from home about 18 days but am looking at a minimum of 31 days for this back to back plan. And yes I know that the tour starts in Canterbury. I have no idea why my fingers typed Cambridge. I have used a hotel midway for laundry on my first tour back in 2009 and am open to that possibility if it exists. I really don't want to spend a couple of hours in a laundromat but . . . . . .Thanks for the reminder of how hot those commercial dryers are if I do use one.

My plan now is to look into lighter weight quicker drying slacks. I already use Solumbra and Coolibar shirts which dry quickly. The slowest thing now are my socks - even after using my microfiber towel to get rid of most of the moisture. But I haven't done slacks before and maybe with a couple of extra pairs and careful rotation I won't have to do so. Thanks again for your thoughts!!!

Now to switch gears and get ready for my October Sicily adventure.
I hope to travel with some of you in the future.

Posted by
8203 posts

"To all the sink washing people, I have traveled for over 50 years and have never sink washed. We do NOT sink wash when we are at home and we will NOT sink wash when we are on vacation. There are many options to getting the laundry done: hotels, you would be amazed at how inexpensive that can be"

Bob, glad that works for you. Well, I don't sink wash at home but I don't need to. When traveling, it's not any expense that is a problem, I do it because it is easier for me. I can easily do one piece a night plus unders.

EMoore, most of the hotel rooms on the tour have fans so I will turn a fan on items if they don't seem to be drying quickly enough. Some of the hotels had the heated towel racks. I could not ever get mine to work but my brother and SIL got theirs going in several of the rooms. I'm sure it was a user error, hahaha! The only place I would not try to wash is Alfriston which is a one-nighter.

Posted by
40 posts

If you are a female looking for quick drying pants that don’t look too much like strictly hiking pants, I recommend the Llbean vista camp pants. Very light weight and comfy, not too bulky looking and they dry very quickly. If you need more warmth than they provide, a pair of leggings underneath works great. I have both the cropped and regular length and really like them.

Posted by
57 posts

I also dislike wasting time doing laundry in the sink. We hang up our clothes each night after wearing and spray with travel fabreeze. We also have the hotel do the laundry when an opportunity arises, which it has on every trip for a very reasonable sum. None of our clothes would get ruined in the dryers and I find they fold them beautifully.

Posted by
1760 posts

Just back from a month in Europe. We had our clothes washed three times. Not a problem to find a place to do it for you. Helps the local economy! I do not want to do laundry on holiday!

Posted by
25 posts

Just finished the Scandinavia tour. Great trip - you will enjoy it. Scandinavia has VERY few self service laundries and the wash and fold place in the Steves guidebook in Bergen is not open on the weekend and has limited hours during the week. We had planned on doing some laundry in Bergen as we had another 9 days post tour - but opted to sink wash what was needed as nothing was open while in Bergen. Laundry service at the Bergen hotel was the typical per item $$$ charge. I would not plan on doing laundry until Canterbury, and it sounds as if you will have better options there.

Posted by
280 posts

When you sign up for your tour the RS office will send you the name of your first hotel. You could email them ahead of your trip and ask them about laundry facilities. They could let you know if there is a place for either you or a service to get it taken care of. I took the Best of Paris tour (after a week of independent travel) then took the Eastern France tour. There was a laundromat directly across the street from our Paris hotel. It was worth it to me to spend an hour and a half to start the Eastern France tour with a suitcase of fresh clean clothes. I never leave my clothes in the hot commercial dryers. I usually let my clothes dry for about 10 minutes then I start pulling out the lightweight clothes. I'll fold them, then get out another piece or two that is mostly dry. I'll take them to the room to let them dry a little more.. It cost me about 8 or 9 euros and less than 2 hours of time.