Myth of Traveling Light: Laundry

Suitcase Confidential Laundry

Our tiny hotel room in Gaeta…on laundry night.

When I started traveling more frequently, I scoured the web for any tips that could possibly help me manage my packing better. If you’ve ever googled “packing light,” you’ve likely come across one of the light packers’ cardinal rules: You don’t have to pack as many clothes because you can do laundry on your trip!

Is this technically true? Yes. But who wants to spend any of their travel time doing laundry? Washing a pair of underwear in the sink is one thing, but there are many, many flaws with trying to do much more, particularly by hand.

I should know, I have washed clothes on both trips I have taken to Italy. Those experiences led me to come up with the following:

4 Reasons Washing Clothes on Vacation is a Pain in the A**

1. It’s messy. If you wash them in a sink, or even the bathtub, water. gets. everywhere.

2. It’s time consuming. When you wash them yourself, you’re wasting precious time that you could be exploring whatever great city you happen to be in.

3. Clothes get wrinkled as hell. No amount of laying the garment flat and “smoothing” it with your hand is going to undo the damage of wringing water out of your handwashed clothes. So not only do you waste precious vacation time washing clothes, you waste more time ironing them.

4. They still have to dry. Where are you going to put all of those wet clothes to dry? Most hotel rooms aren’t that big, particularly in foreign countries. Plus, no dryer = no fabric softener. ’nuff said.

Sure, some of these are minor annoyances, but the biggest one to me is the precious time you waste on a rather mundane task when you could be out doing or seeing something amazing.

Now before you say, “but what about laundromats?!” let me go ahead and squash that one, too. Our last night in Rome before moving on to the next city was spent in a laundromat. Did we get our clothes clean? Yes. But while we were in one of the most majestic cities in the world, we were stuck–for hours–in a laundromat.

I can do laundry at home. I can’t go see Michaelangelo’s David or hang out at the Trivvi Fountain.