Staying stylish while traveling can be a challenge when you’re packing for a 21 day land-and-sea vacation and don’t want to take your entire season’s clothing color capsules with you! I’ve included a printable planning list at the end of this post of all the tips and items you’ll need to take with you to have clean laundry during your vacation, no matter how long you’re gone!
H.H. and I were leaving for a 9 night French Riviera and Dalmatian Coast cruise which departed from Barcelona and ended in Venice, Italy. We added a few days in Barcelona before the cruise and then stayed in Venice, Florence and finished the trip in Amsterdam before flying back to North Carolina.
TO TAKE A CARRY-ON OR NOT TO TAKE A CARRY-ON, THAT’S THE QUESTION
The planned trip would be 21 days, but much to our chagrin, we were delayed in Boston overnight due to weather on our flight home. We went to the hotel with no luggage, which meant no clean clothes or toiletries. You can shower, but putting on dirty underclothes…. to say it’s icky is an understatement. The next morning, we kept smelling each other to make sure our clothes weren’t “stinkin’ up the joint”!
Yes, we should have taken a carry-on, but we had such crazy flight plans, we decided that we’d risk it. How many times can it happen to one couple? To the Traveling Wolves (H.H. and my travel handle on TripAdvisor), it seems it can happen a lot! In all honesty, we’ve been stuck overnight due to cancelled flights three out of the last four times we’ve traveled back to the mainland.
GONNA HIT THE ROAD NEXT TRIP
When we finally arrived home from this fabulous trip, we promptly planned a road trip for our next adventure. In The Traveling Wolves Journal I’ll be chronicling our November 2019 trip to spend Thanksgiving with the pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts and then celebrating our 38th wedding anniversary attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and seeing Mean Girls on Broadway. I’ve got a little surprise planned for H.H, I’ll let you in on the secret details in my pre-trip post.
When we get back, you’ll get a “behind the scenes” look at the giant balloons being inflated the day before the parade, plus the Traveling Wolves’ Plan of Action and Parade Survival Kit for getting to, attending in comfort, and getting out-of-dodge after the parade. You wouldn’t believe the planning attending this parade actually takes!
ARE YOU WILLING TO DO LAUNDRY & PACK LESS?
Did someone say something about doing laundry on vacation? I tend to be a bit of a storyteller folks, so sometimes it takes reading an anecdote before you get to the meat of the matter! My bad, I’ll try harder. But I’m not promising I’ll actually succeed!
When planning this trip, H.H. and I looked at what hotels we’d be staying at that had self-service laundry facilities which would enable us to refresh our travel wardrobes. We’re Hilton Honors members, and were using honor-points for our hotel stays, so we would have to schedule our laundry duty accordingly.
You not only have to figure out where you’ll be doing the laundry, but also must plan on having the block of time in your sightseeing schedule to actually get it washed, dried and do a little steaming/ironing.
Here’s my 21-day Travel Laundry Plan-Of-Action:
- Once during every Celebrity cruise, they offer a “laundry challenge”* which states that they will launder as many pieces of clothing as you can fit in the large paper bag they provide (with NO tears) for the stated amount of money in the offer.
*EACH CRUISE, I TAKE THIS AS A DARE: This time I fit in 31 pieces, which included undies, socks, shirts, ladies slacks and one pair of men’s denims! When will they learn not to mess with a lifestyle diva!
- The Hilton Garden Inn Venice Mestre San Giuliano hotel features a laundry room with washer, dryer and ironing facilities which would enable us to do laundry during the mid-point in our trip. (it was a bit of a struggle, control panels in Italian, but I’ll tell you about it a bit later!)
- The Traveling Wolves always pack a portion of our undergarments that are made with fabric that can be hand washed in the sink and will dry overnight.
- I packed several fabulous pieces from Boston Proper’s travel line that can be hand-washed in a sink or bathtub, dry quickly and only need a quick touch-up with a steamer to look like you just took it out of the closet at home.
- We use the plastic “laundry” bags from each hotel room we stay in to store our dirty clothes in our suitcases.
- Upon arrival at the “next” hotel room during a trip, I make sure to hang up any clothes that I’m planning on wearing “one more time” before they need to be cleaned. It enables the pieces to breathe a bit and helps keep wrinkling to a minimum. Speaking of packing without wrinkles… oh, that’ll have to be another post!
DOING LAUNDRY IN VENICE, ITALY – IT’S AN ADVENTURE? Kinda!
So, we’re in Venice and we’ve got a few hours to sit out the rain and I decide it’s time to get the dirty job done, whether I feel like it or not! Here’s a picture of the washer-and-dryer in the hotel, not too intimidating, until you try to read the control panel… it’s in Italian.
Yes, there were little paper signs taped on the walls with some misused-misplaced-English words, but alas, other than telling me how much it would cost, I garnered very little else from them. And actually, I didn’t even get that right!
IT WAS AN ITSY, BITSY, TEENY WEENY WASHER
Okay, I opened the washing machine and this is what I saw. A tiny little compartment that looked like one of H.H.’s outfits would be an entire load! I had gone down to the laundry room on a scouting trip to determine what kind of money I would need (coins/tokens) and just how much laundry I could fit in per load prior to toting my supplies and dirty clothes down the 8 floors. (Okay, that’s not the only reason, I’m a little directionally challenged, and have been known to get lost inside the bowels of hotels, so I also figured I should know how to get there when my arms are full of laundry!)
Knowing we’d be washing clothes, H.H. and I had brought along a roll of quarters (it’s on my list!) just in case we needed them, but of course in Italy we’d be using Euros, so we had stocked up on them once we hit land.
I got down to the laundry room without mishap, which means I actually found it again, but I will confess, I ended up in the gym with my clothes in tow before finding the correct door. Left, right, whatever!
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
So I’m squatting on the ground, trying to decipher the tiny instruction panel, hoping beyond hope that some kindly Italian gal would enter the room and save the day! Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way, although a very stylish French couple (yes, the husband came with her!) did come in to iron a few garments while I was just finishing folding my second load.
Back to the washer, I loaded my clothes, added a detergent/softener sheet (I’ll tell you about them later) put in the amount of money I thought it required and pushed a button. I waited, some strange sounds, but no spinning, no water, no nothing. Then all of a sudden, the drum began to sputter, and then to spin. Yeah, I thought, I did it!
No, I must not have, because after 3-4 minutes, there was still no water in the machine. What the heck? It was spinning like a dervish, but it definitely was not washing our clothes.
WATER, WATER, MY KINGDOM FOR SOME WATER!
I decided, with the wisdom that comes from years of being a doubter, to start playing with the dials to see if I could correct the problem. Water, water, my kingdom for some water!
Well, needless to say I only made things worse and ended up opening the washer door and giving a little yelp in utter frustration. With tears threatening to well up, I marched up to the lobby (I only missed it by one floor!) and threw myself on the mercy of the concierge who had helped us purchase our vaporetto (water taxi) and bus tickets the day before.
He tried to explain how the machines worked, but must have seen the perplexed expression on my face, as he offered to come down to the laundry and help me personally. I just love being a Hilton Honors member!
WHAT A CLUELESS WONDER I WAS
It turns out that the washing machine was actually working just fine, because it had been busy weighing the clothes to determine the amount of money it would cost for that load. That was an eye-opener, having never heard of such a thing in my life. Turns out, it’s how laundromats in Europe operate. Who knew? Now you do too!
Since I had lost my initial money when I opened the machine door, the concierge used the hotel’s euros to pay for the load. He made sure to show me how to operate the dryer so he wouldn’t have to make a return visit to rescue me again.
I wanted to have a few adventures in Europe, but doing my laundry wasn’t supposed to be one of them!
YOUR TRAVEL LAUNDRY SUPPLY LIST
Let me give you a rundown of what to take with you to refresh your wardrobe while traveling:
- I found these fabulous laundry sheets online, called WashEZE, that are infused with both detergent and fabric softener. I actually cut them in half because they’re made for one full load in a standard size washer, not a small hotel machine. I pre-cut the amount I wanted to take at home, and repacked them in a ziploc bag with a half-dozen dryer sheets.
I always carry a small pair of scissors in my toiletry kit, so when I want to do some hand-washing in our room, I cut a strip off and use it to wash just a sink-full of items. They clean well, weigh nothing and pack flat, a wanderers dream!
- A Tide-to-Go stain treatment stick; I know, you know, that we all know these are a staple that should also be dropped into your purse for messy mishaps during any day of your life. (I have a few of those, all the time!)
- Downy Wrinkle Releaser, no explanation necessary!
- A stick lint roller – I constantly pack black or white, and this little roller is a blessing!
- Static Guard spray to make sure your little black dress doesn’t look like it’s plastered to your legs!
- Dollar Store pencil zipper case to pack your “laundry kit” in
That’s all it takes to keep your travel wardrobe looking fresh, clean and fabulously fashionable!
I’ve got a great IFAFL Email Subscriber List bonus “Travel Laundry Planning & Packing Checklist” PRINTABLE PDF to help you plan and pack for getting your travel laundry done while wandering the world. You can find the FREE DOWNLOAD in the Subscriber Resource Library. I send the password to my subscribers in the every email I send.
It’s got lots of great questions to ask yourself as you check off the items in my list, and includes some valuable tips to make sure your laundry gets done quickly, efficiently and is stress-free. Leave your stress at home!
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