I can feel the excitement building as we count down to No. 2 in my list of the most useful things I brought on my recent extended cruise: my flexible laundry line.
In the ordinary course of leisure travel, the laundry line allows me to limit my packed wardrobe to two or three outfits for a week or two of travel, squeezing the whole deal into a single carry-on bag with the electronics and toiletries. In the course of a three-week trip, including 16 days on a cruise ship with frequent wardrobe changes, it allowed me to sneak my checked bag just under the 50-pound limit. (“One more pair of shoes and she’d be in trouble,” the Southwest skycap remarked to my husband, not knowing that the real problem was three pounds of maple syrup. But that’s another story.)
Now you might ask why we needed to bring a laundry line when our ship was equipped with coin-operated laundries and our cabin came with one of those retractable laundry lines in the shower. First, the shower laundry line is too short and too slippery for much more than a damp swimsuit. Second, those so-called launderettes are hellishly humid, windowless closets crowded day and night with angry passengers lined up in a seething mass of bitter resentment and mutual suspicion. The one time I tried to use a launderette on this trip, I had to back out as if confronted by snarling pit bulls.
So back to the cabin to employ my tried-and-true hotel handwash routine, which I have described more fully here.
You can buy a Flex-O Line made of latex rubber tubing from Magellan’s for $10.50. There are also laundry lines that come with little clips or clothespins, but I prefer the braided latex tubing, which lets you tuck the clothes in between the strands.
Here’s a tip: You can round out your laundry kit with a couple of mini bungee cords to help attach the laundry line to things, some travel laundry soap and a flexible sink stopper.
Here’s a trick: If your clothes aren’t quite dry when you need them, you can apply a hot iron or even a hair dryer to speed it along.
Here’s a story: I once spent a week in Turkey, in the winter, with one carry-on bag, about a third of which was taken up by my LL Bean snow sneakers. How? Laundry line.