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One of the challenges of going on a long trip is dealing with the logistics of doing laundry. When one is an academic, conference and research housing ranges from hotels to dorm rooms. Most hotels are not cooperative enough to have laundry facilities usable by their guests. Dorms or halls usually do, but often very much out of the way. In addition, laundry usually requires time. Time to mind the machines so others don't toss newly-clean clothing aside in their desire to use my machine themselves.

Handwashing works fine if one has planned ahead on easy-to-dry clothing and has the time to let it air-dry before moving on, especially if the residence in question has an effectively pluggable sink - they don't always. Dry-cleaning adds up quickly. Yesterday I was talking to a graduate student about her forthcoming four-week research trip to the UK. One of her biggest concerns, even months in advance, is how to fit laundry around everything else in her schedule. Once, C. and I wasted nearly an entire day in Vienna, on our only trip there, first searching for a laundromat that had moved, then doing laundry, waiting for machines, deciphering public transport.

Because laundry can be such a kerfuffle, especially when pressed for time, I wasn't particularly looking forward to dealing with it this morning. I'm finishing off a conference paper and have lots of grading to do. I can't work on either effectively while babysitting laundry machines.

Fortunately I am staying in a hotel with a small laundromat in the basement - two washers, two dryers. On the elevator heading down towards the laundromat, I overheard a conversation between two staff members - one of the laundry machines wasn't working. I said I hoped the other was, and available - and they said it was already in use. I followed them to the laundry room where, after thirty seconds of tweaking, the laundry machine started. One looked at me and smiled. "It's your lucky day. Free laundry." And, except for the soap and the time it took to go to the basement twice, it was. If only travel laundering was always so efficient!


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 8th, 2007 02:23 pm (UTC)
My travels have usually involved a very loose schedule either a hand washable wardrobe and warm climate, cheap local launderers, or one set of presentable clothes that stayed clean and the rest was smelly camping gear that didn't matter until I got home so I've rarely needed to hunt down a laundromat so far.
Provided one can find a laundromat.Is it hard, in most European cities, to find one that offers wash,dry and fold service or is it just priced too high?It must be less than hotel laundry service or dry cleaning.
May. 8th, 2007 02:34 pm (UTC)
you are welcome to use our [regrettably coin operated] laundry machines at any time when you are here!
May. 8th, 2007 02:34 pm (UTC)
Oh, WORD. Laundry gives me fits, figuring out where, when, and how on trips. Glad you got a good setup just now!
May. 8th, 2007 02:47 pm (UTC)
i've always felt very lucky that most of my trips are 14 days or less and/or involve staying with family or friends - all of whom possess laundry equipment.
May. 8th, 2007 05:09 pm (UTC)
My worst travel laundry experience was handwashing my stuff in a muddy river in the country formerly known as Zaire when I was sick and had infected wounds on my feet. Some local women came and insisted on washing my laundry for me even though I didn't want them to because I didn't have any local currency yet and nothing I wanted to trade. Then they wanted my only good bra but I compromised and gave them half of the fabric I had got as a souvenir for my mum.
May. 8th, 2007 11:47 pm (UTC)
Teeny tip on handwashing in hotels that I learned from my mum - towels are one thing you can get in plenty from hotels, pretty much as many as you like. So what you do is take a bathtowel for each item of clothing you're washing; fold the towel over once for shirts, leave long for skirts and pants. Spread the towel flat on the bed or a table. Put the wet item of clothing on the towel and then roll the towel and the clothing up together into a cylinder, like a jelly roll. Then put the cylinder on the floor and stomp the heck out of it and knead it hard with your feet while you watch TV or whatever. This will squeeze all the water out into the towel (which will also be wicking and absorbing) without distorting the shape of the garment. If you do this twice (with a fresh dry towel the second time) the garment will be mostly dry by the time you're done. If your hotel has a hand dryer you can give the garment a blast (just a couple of minutes) to fluff the fibers a little, then hang it, and it will be totally dry within a couple of hours, overnight for jeans.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )