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BY MYSCHA THERIAULT
McCLATCHY-TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
The secret to light packing for long-term travel lies with laundry. With wardrobe choices designed to go the distance, logistics can be less challenging than you might think. Here are my top tips.
Containment: Workout wear, odiferous socks and even damp swimsuits need to be compartmentalized and stored away from clean travel clothing until laundering becomes an option.
For lightly soiled items, carrying a simple drawstring bag from the dollar store will do the trick. For a slightly stronger scent barrier, bread bags, grocery sacks and even the flat plastic receptacles hotel rooms make available for dry-cleaning services provide a free solution.
Water also needs to be contained in order to make the hand washing of intimates and other lightweight clothing a viable option. At a hotel with up-to-date plumbing fixtures, this is as simple as closing the sink or tub drain. Under more rustic conditions, you'll need to get creative.
One item I carry wherever I go is a universal sink stopper. Available for less than $5 at places like Ace Hardware and Home Depot, it is a flat rubber disc that stops water flow regardless of drain size. If you are taking your car on a camping trip and have to use water from an outdoor faucet in order to clean clothes, packing an inexpensive bucket can give you a laundry solution when you need it and organized storage for loose items when you are on the highway.
Infrastructure: While tucking in a full-sized scrub brush can be problematic, packing a medium-bristled nail brush is a piece of cake. Provided you pack one that's at least four to six rows wide, it should be large enough to get the job done when it comes to washing socks in the shower and scrubbing out cosmetic stains from the collar of your dress shirt.
Your clothing choice can also play a critical role in laundry logistics. Having a few thinner items that can be rinsed in a hotel sink and air-dried within hours can mean the difference between feeling fresh or frumpy when you get stranded unexpectedly overnight due to a canceled flight. Examples include quick-dry socks and undergarments, as well as high-performance base layers that can serve as moisture buffers between your skin and heavier items.