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I love traveling and escaping from the everyday, and we are always ready for the next adventure.  But some household chores follow us wherever we go…like trying to get fresh clean clothes when we are on the road.  When you travel for weeks at a time, it is just not smart to pack for an entire trip.  So that means laundrettes (in Europe) or Laundromats (in the US) are the smart solution.

The laundromat. A must on long trips. Bring a book, and lots of change. Photo by me.

When I first travelled to Europe, especially in a country where I didn’t speak the language, it was very difficult to do laundry in an efficient manner.  Often it meant washing things out in the hotel sink, and hoping they would dry by the next morning, a formidable challenge. (Tip, if you roll wet laundry in a towel before hanging it up to dry, it has a much better chance of drying overnight.)

I remember going through Holland with my dear friends and traveling buddies from LA . We arrived in Amsterdam, and realized it was time to do laundry.  We did find a laundrette with machines to do the wash, and sorted out the unfamiliar coins to make them work, but dryers were few and far between in Europe then (Europeans still hang laundry on a line outside, or use sunrooms, or drying closets). So it was imperative that we chose accommodations with a good big radiator in the room…the better to dry wet socks. My hotel room looked like a linen delivery truck had exploded and littered it’s contents over every piece of furniture, curtain rod and heat source in the room.

Warm socks are a challenge but a necessity! photo by Clarita.

When visiting friends and family in England, they are often kind enough to offer us their washing machines and we gamely hang everything outside in the moist English air with feeble hopes of it drying before we move on.  Just when it feels like that fleece top has lost that last bit of damp, however, it more often than not starts raining and you are back to square one.  The clothes do smell wonderful, however, drying in the fresh air, even if the jeans are stiff as a board.  A few good shakes and they’re back to normal, though.

Hanging wash on the line is a true challenge. It's like doing a rain dance.Photo Bucket photo

Now, in the last decade or so, it seems it has gotten easier.  In the states, we often stay in a chain hotel that has a laundry room on the premises.  What a joy!  A movie in the room with take-out Chinese while we do laundry down the hall is heaven on earth on a long trip.

In Europe we have been good at finding a nearby market center town that has a laundrette. The internet has been brilliant for being able to locate these hidden gems. They’re usually not in the main tourist area.  I remember in the Lake District driving a half hour from Grasmere to a  larger market town, and spending an hour chatting with the locals and reading the local newspapers while our wash would spin and dry!

Watching our wash spin is a perfect way to meet the locals in the nearby market towns. "Washerwhirl" by taliesin

My Beloved Brit has learned that when he goes over to Burnham-on-Crouch sailing for a week or so before I join him, that it is most appreciated if he spends a few hours in the laundrette around the corner from his yacht club before I arrive. (There is nothing quite like the smell of damp sailing gear that has been stowed in a duffel bag for a week) That little shop feels like home after many years of doing our laundry there.

It is always such a great feeling to start fresh on a long trip and re-pack our bags with clean laundry.  It is like the holiday has just begun with all new expectations and excitement in setting out again.