How to Pack (and do laundry) for a Three Week Trip

Doing laundry in hotel rooms?  Picture Lucy stomping grapes.
Got the picture?
I do my laundry in the bathtub, barefoot, hence the picture of I Love Lucy.  I pack powdered laundry soap in ziplock sandwich bags, then put several of these into a quart ziplock bag.  Note:  I have also used the hotels shampoo on occasion, thinking soap is soap.  I run a small amount of hot water into the tub (or sink) to dissolve the powdered soap, then cold water for the rest.
Once the clothes are washed and rinsed, then you lay them in clean towels and roll them up.  The towels soak up most of the water and help the clothes, socks, underwear, whatever, dry faster.  I shower first and then do laundry so I can use all the towels for this purpose.  You do the laundry at night, as soon as you get to the room.  It must be a place you will be for two nights.
I take a dozen drip dry hangers in my suitcase.  They fit in one of the outside pockets. You can buy a dozen for less than $5.00.
That gets us to what kind of clothes do I wear.  I have a “travel uniform” that has worked great.  Dressy slacks with pockets (one zipped pocket minimum) made from high tech fabric, a quick dry short sleeve T-shirt and a dressy long sleeved blouse that is NO-IRON.   Absolutely NO JEANS.  They are heavy and take FOREVER to dry.
Travel clothes can be bought on line at http://www.travelsmith.com and www.magellans.com.  I prefer to shop their sale or outlets.  Travelsmith will frequently have “sale colors” and I go with those.  Once I find what I like I buy several.
My favorite TShirt’s are Mountain Hardware Wicked Lite Tee.  I have them in several colors.  They dry in less than half an hour.  They also are great for soaking up any sweat, leaving my dress shirt fresh for several days.   They take up no room so I take five or six with me.
For the dress shirt, good brands are Foxcroft and Eddie Bauer.  Both are pricey, but I wait for sales.  I wear the shirt open, kind of like a jacket over the Tshirt.   I keep the long sleeves on outside to keep the sun off my arms, and can easily slip it off, if inside gets too warm.
The big thing to remember is fabric should be high tech, quick drying and moisture wicking.    I no longer buy anything that can’t travel well.  I just wear these same clothes at home to work and church.  In the evening I wear the same thing except maybe add a scarf or simple jewelry to the ensemble.  I also take a dressy jacket that goes with one or more of my blouses.
I always take four changes of clothes, with maybe some extra Tshirt layers.  So 4 slacks, 6 Tshirts, 4 blouses.  Then I take 7 pairs of underwear and 3 bras.  I wear one set of clothes, one set in my carry on and two in checked baggage.
Luggage.  Start with ebags at http://www.ebags.com/index.cfm?sourceid=AAANATIO&CB_SID=203.  You get a discount for being a AAA member.  Think LIGHT.  You can compare bags and ebags lists the bags weight for comparison.
My husband and I each have a Rick Steves Civita backpack.  We have had them for eight years and they are still going strong.  You can buy them various places on line.  I don’t carry a purse.  I also have a Pacsafe backpack I used in Istanbul and Athens to thwart the slash robbers.  The Rick Steves bag is lighter and folds into nothing so I took that also.
We both use packing cubes and LOVE THEM.  I think we have twelve of them.  I use small ones in my back pack and for medicine and makeup in my bag and medium size to pack clothes.  They unpack easy, you just take them out and put them in the drawers, or leave them in your suitcase.  The best deal price wise are Ebags packing cubes.  I would not recommend the large ones.  I think they are too big.
Packing cubes are priceless if security opens your bag.  They don’t have to paw through all your stuff.  They just look through one cube at a time.

I hope you find these tips helpful.  Travel On!

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2 responses to “How to Pack (and do laundry) for a Three Week Trip

  1. Sharon offers some great tips and I’ve traveled more comfortably by following them. However, as a plus-size woman, I’ve faced some challenges that she hasn’t had to deal with.

    I’ve had difficulty finding appropriate travel clothes. I’ve purchased tops from both http://www.junonia.com and http://www.tilley.com and been very satisfied. Both are pricey, but worth it.

    Because it’s hard to find the travel pants Sharon describes in a plus-size, I just use my regular polyester-blend dress pants that I buy from http://www.talbots.com. They are very heavy when wet and I find it easier to have the hotel wash them for me. Not cheap, but knowing the pants are clean and will be dry on time is worth it to me and I plan my travel expenditures accordingly.

    I took 6 complete outfits with me on a recent trip to Italy – pants, sleeveless or short-sleeve top, cardigan or dress shirt plus two dressy tops for evening – and found that worked better for me than Sharon’s suggested 4. I didn’t have “be Lucy” every day and always had a fresh outfit on days I came back to the hotel soaking wet after walking 3-5 miles in very hot weather.

    And on a final note, I do travel with a purse – one that goes across my body and has metal running through it to prevent the strap or bottom from being slashed. I feel more comfortable with that than a backpack – personal preference, nothing to do with my size. My purse is from PacSafe but purchased through http://www.eBags.com.

    I hope those of you who are plus-size find these additional tips helpful .

    • Thanks Nancy. I appreciate your tips on plus size clothing. I too have succumbed to letting the hotel do my laundry. Our trip to Costa Rica last April was a good example. We went kayaking the evening before check out and the kayak guide told us the resort could do our laundry early the next day. I had anticipated just having them do the clothes that got wet getting in and out of the kayak, but when I asked for the price they said $5.00 for a whole load, so we gave them everything. After that we opted for the hotel laundry for the rest of the trip. For one thing we had showers, not bathtubs and the humidity would have extended the drying time.

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