Laundry Day Vanna's Way
Yep, you just can't escape the need to do laundry when traveling on the road for several weeks at a time. Even the masterful clothing packer must finally give in and find a place to wash some clothes.
While watching Wheel of Fortune one day, we listened as Vanna White explained to co-host, Pat Sajak, how she finds doing laundry relaxing. Hmmm. Maybe. Laundry on the road is a game of chance, but being prepared and remaining flexible will turn this chore into an activity with a little extra sparkle that even Vanna might appreciate.
While our little RV van includes many comforts of home, it doesn't have a washer/dryer. And, believe it or not, we get questions from people about how we do our laundry. We always plan some down time during our longer trips to catch up on chores like laundry. We look ahead to see if any of the RV parks we plan to visit have laundry facilities. Sometimes it works well. We stayed at a terrific RV resort in Texas for a few days with great laundry facilities. They had plenty of washers and dryers that were clean and in good working order. The machines worked only via app. We downloaded the app, tied it to an electronic payment method of our choice, scanned a code on the machine and were on our way. The app kept track of the machine's wash, rinse and spin cycle and notified us when the load was completed. The dryer operated the same way and provided a timed countdown to completion. It was a pretty sweet experience.
However, we've also encountered some laundry facilities with coin-only machines that eat money without working, are dirty, or charge a pretty high price per load. That's when you just have to take a look around and make the decision to do some laundry or wait until you find another spot.
Our suggestion is to be flexible. Do some quick research on your smartphone about communities along your travel route to determine where laundry facilities are located and read the reviews. Once you arrive, walk in and take a quick look around before carrying in everything. That plan worked well at a laundromat in North Dakota. We stopped to check out the machines, decided they looked good, and spent about an hour doing two loads of laundry while chatting with the locals. Everyone was quite nice. They even gave recommendations about which machines they liked best and why. Handy.
We stopped in at another laundromat in eastern Montana where we met an RVing couple doing their laundry. We compared notes and found that before stopping at this particular laundry site, we had each stopped at a different one across town and we both decided against using it. It was the duct tape stretching across most of the washer and dryer doors there that signaled to us we should go elsewhere. The place we ended up using was much better. It had lots of working machines, was pretty clean and reasonably priced. As the washing machines swished away washing clothing, we sat on orange benches that looked like they had come out of an old Burger King restaurant. We chatted about RVs, campsites and places to visit. We compared our methods for carrying change. The other couple kept quarters in an old pill bottle with a locking lid that fit easily into a pocket, while we use a Zip Lock with just enough change. It's the little things, right? The couple was very nice and talking with them made the time pass quickly.
In north central Montana we met two talkative ladies traveling to Glacier National Park in their RV. They decided to get a load of laundry done at the RV park while they had a chance. They had been hanging around the laundry area for a while and just couldn't figure out why their clothes wouldn't dry. We chuckled when we saw they had stuffed about a month's worth of clothing into one dryer to save a little bit of change. As they pulled out items, it reminded us of a VW Beetle full of clowns. The machine was just too full to do the job well. Nonetheless, a good time was had by all and it was a good stop for us to do a quick (but small) load of shirts and shorts. Our pup was allowed inside this particular laundromat and she enjoyed watching the comings and goings at the facility. At laundromats where our dog is not allowed inside, she and John hang around just outside the door. We can usually still chat and keep and eye on the laundry at the same time.
Sometimes you think you've picked a pretty good location to wash a load of clothes only to learn it's not so great after all. We used the laundry room at a recent well-rated campground. It had lots of washers and dryers and appeared pretty clean. A group of us finished using the washing machines close to the same time. Unfortunately, four of us messed around with the dryers for a bit (or they messed with us) only to learn they did not work properly and some didn't work at all. That night a load of wet clothing was strung across the inside of our little van air drying. Our van feels pretty roomy until wet clothing is hanging everywhere. Oh, well.
It's wise to pack your own laundry supplies so you don't have to buy detergent from vending machines. It'll save you money and you can use your preferred brand. Some laundromats ask that laundry pods not be used in their particular machines, so you might carry small sizes of different detergent options. Carry a couple rolls of quarters with you because not all change machines work as they should. Sometimes, they're not even available. Bring a laundry bag of some sort so you don't lose a sock or your favorite shirt in the parking lot because you tried to carry an armload of clothing. Keep in mind that smaller RV campground laundry sites might not have machines large enough to accommodate large sheets or blankets. So bring extra sheets just in case your dog barfs on your bed. Yes, that has happened.
Remember, if you have to do laundry on the road and your RV doesn't accommodate a washer/dryer, a little planning and flexibility can help you relax and have laundry day Vanna's way.
Thanks for reading our blog and subscribe for free to Ruby's Winding Road using the form below so you don't miss a post. We've been out wandering and will post about new adventures soon. In the meantime, check out photos from past trips in our Gallery tab at Rubyswindingroad.com. We call them Ruby's Postcards. You can also catch up on some of our previous blogs from this past year.