Destinations, Europe, Smart Travel

I’m Always Stinky; The Laundry Struggles of a Backpacker

We arrived in Santorini, Greece, where everyone dresses to the nines. We stopped for lunch at an upscale rooftop bar. It had been about a week since we last did laundry and it was our third day wearing the same clothes. We were stinky.

Hey, laundry is hard when you’re hopping from country to country every few days and wearing a new set of clothes on a travel day is a backpacking no-no.

I’m sure my fellow travelers are familiar with the difficulties of doing laundry abroad. Below are a few of our most humorous struggles.

Clothes dryers aren’t a thing in Europe

My husband, father and I were in the first country of the trip: Germany. We knew our next destination wouldn’t have a washer, so we threw a load in the evening before we had to leave for Prague.

Our AirBnb didn’t have a dryer, so we used every square inch of the apartment to lay out our clothes to dry – jeans included. I can almost hear my mom groaning and saying, “Emma! The jeans wouldn’t be dry by the next morning!” Yeah, mom, we discovered that the hard way.

The next morning we each had a pile of wet clothes to haul to Prague. Thank goodness we were taking a bus, and were not required to weigh our luggage!

Lesson learned: If you don’t have a dryer, don’t wash your heavy clothes the night before traveling.

The washer settings are in a different language

On our second laundry attempt in the Netherlands. We were thrilled that we brought small baggies of powder laundry detergent because our AirBnb didn’t provide any. I highly recommend doing this – buying a giant batch of detergent while traveling is such a waste.

While my husband and father were out grabbing groceries, I attempted to start a load of laundry. To be honest, I’m not that good at English laundry, so imagine my struggle with Dutch laundry.

So here I am looking at my options:

Intensief…hmm sounds too intense.

Kort programma… let’s skip that and come back to it.


Spoelen and centrifuge…crap.

Katoen…huh, maybe that’s for cotton stuff.

Synthetisch…maybe that’s for synthetic materials?

Handwas…no, I don’t want to hand wash, I want YOU to wash them.

Babykatoen…aww baby cotton!

After washing on Kort programma for 30 minutes our laundry came out undestroyed. We put our clothes on the patio to dry. A bird pooped on them less than 10 minutes later so we kort programma’d a second time.

Halfway through our trip we got smart and started paying a laundry mat to wash our clothes. It usually cost about 10 Euro a load, which was a lot, but worth it.

Thanks for reading,


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