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How to Pack Light For a Trip and Keep Your Clothes Fresh


When you’re on vacation, the last thing you want to worry about is a giant suitcase, even if it’s full of Fresh Clean Tees. It’s best to keep yourself unburdened, so you can readily take advantage of all that your chosen city, village, country, or island has to offer. When travel becomes more regular again, we’ll want to go everywhere and see everything, so we can’t be weighed down by bulky bags.

This can be difficult when you also want to look sharp and polished on a getaway. You don’t want to drive off potential new friends with the unmistakable scent of definitely worn, definitely unwashed threads. The good news is that it can be very easy to wash your clothes on the go, allowing you to simply pack the essentials like basic tees and sweatshirts.

Along with your best camera and your favorite walking shoes, you’ll want a sturdy outfit or two that you can wear through a variety of locales and weather patterns. If you’re hitting a spot with a consistent climate, it should be easy to pack, arrive, and get to your activities.

Here’s a suggested packing list:

The less you pack, the easier it’ll be to do laundry. Whether you’re staying in a hotel, a house, or a hostel, there’ll at least be a sink or a tub where you can wash your clothes, if not a proper laundry situation altogether. Doing laundry on the go may seem tedious, but it’ll make your overall experience better to not have to lug around so many clothes while they get smellier and smellier.

To avoid dulling your whites, you should probably leave your white tee shirts and white crew socks at home. Separating lights and colors isn’t always necessary, but when you’re washing clothes in a sink or a tub, it’s important to avoid staining your white items.

For on-the-go laundry, you’ll need some detergent. Due to laws about how much liquid you can stash in your carry-on, be sure to transfer detergent to a travel-size bottle to bring along. You won’t need too much anyway — only a few drops per clothing item.

Once you’ve filled up the sink or tub with water, add a few drops of detergent. Gently swish your clothes around to mimic a washing machine’s spin cycle. For your tees, you should add a bit of extra detergent to the underarms as well as any spots with stains, and then scrub with the cloth between your hands. Paying attention to the underarms will help with the smell and ensure your basic tee shirts last longer.

Washing your jeans separately will most likely save you a headache. Depending on how new they are, some jeans bleed dye when washed. This isn’t a bad thing! They’re just adjusting to washing and getting more comfortable. However, if you’re worried about dying your hands blue, you can pack rubber gloves or buy some at a nearby shop. The washing process is the same for your jeans, but it may be in your best interest to pay special attention to the hems to make sure they don’t have too much dirt caked on.

To dry your hand-washed clothes, start by wringing them out as much as possible. You want to make sure there isn’t any more dripping when squeezing them out. Before you hang them up to dry, you have to un-wring your items and lay them flat. If you’re hanging them over a shower rod or the side of a sink, make sure you smooth them out as much as possible so they don’t dry with wrinkles. For cotton or wool items, lay them flat on towels for the night and leave them that way, especially near a radiator or a fan if you can. If you’re really into this process, some travelers recommend bringing along a travel clothing line.

Travel hacks and packing tips will be quite necessary when we can get back to more vacations than staycations. Instead of worrying about a giant bag, you’ll be able to move lighter as you explore new places and soak up new experiences. Traveling may look a bit different in the future, so being prepared for anything is a good way to approach any adventures ahead. Just remember, even if you pack light, you can take a few extra steps to keep your clothes fresh and leave your hefty suitcase behind.

— Julia Rittenberg

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