Welcome To The Bitchery

Broke travel: Packing while poor

The Huffington Post, like so many publications this time of year, ran an article listing the golden rules of packing for a vacation. One of the things that made me role my eyes majorly was the "you lack a laundry strategy" and then had the the gall to provide a link to what I can only assume is a plastic bag with a sad excuse for a washboard, that retails for $100! Are you fucking serious?

So many blogs are repeating this bullshit piece of advice of only taking three items on a three week trip that I can only assume the authors have never actually done so, have the money and time to purchase a new wardrobe while traveling, or are nasty motherfuckers who care about neither hygiene nor appearance.

I have been very, very fortunate to do a fair bit of traveling, usually on someone else's dime. I wouldn't be so arrogant as to call myself an expert, but I do think I have enough experience to say that waiting until you get to your destination, especially if your destination is international, to get all of your necessities is asking for trouble.


In the US, we take laundry for granted. But I can tell you, many, many European cities do not have coin operated laundries that are easily accessible to the average traveler. Most people have washing machines in the home, if not their apartment building, so people aren't building or maintaing self service laundries because they are freaking expensive. So if you only have two or three outfits for a three week trip, you are going to be shit out of luck if that's what you're counting on. Most hostels do not have laundry services and the ones that hotels offer are hugely expensive. If you think that shopping is the answer, do you realize that the pound or euro conversion is not in America's favor, making shopping more expensive? Even in places like Primark or H&M?

If you are lucky enough to take a trip this summer, don't add more stress by trying to do it with only a carry-on. If you're traveling overseas, almost all airlines will give you one bag for free, some even two. Pack enough to last you two weeks, not an entire year. Follow the advice of packing things that go well with multiple pieces. Leggings, cardigans, and dresses are your friends. One hand bag that is large enough to carry the essentials (phone, guidebook, water) but small enough that you're still comfortable with it in club. Two pairs of shoes, both are comfortable, but one is slightly more dressy than the other. After having my favorite sandals break on me in Vietnam and the people laughing at me as I hobbled down the street to buy a pair that was at least two sizes too small, I always pack two pairs.

As far as bags, I say get something that has soft sides since hard sides will add weight. You don't need the biggest suitcase. Something that is about twice the size of a carry-on is good enough. Just make sure it has big, sturdy wheels for rough terrain. The cobble stones in Europe are murder on those tiny wheeled things you see people daintily pushing is airports.

Don't take your laptop. You can send emails from internet cafes. Many hostels have computers you can use for free. You laptop will only be another expensive thing you will have to worry about getting stolen, lost, or broken.


If any of you have any suggestions, please feel free to add them. Or if you think I'm wrong about the cleaning clothes thing, then please share. Maybe I'm just being prissy

Share This Story