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Bathing and Traveling

by Max LentMax Lent

Most hotels outside the U.S. do not provide washcloths and only the smallest of  flimsy bath towels.  U.S. travelers traveling abroad should consider taking a washcloth and a bath towel with them unless they are staying at top rated hotels.

Packing a luxurious deep pile terry cloth bath sheet sounds wonderful until you discover that there in no room left in your suitcase for anything else.  Packing a washcloth seems like a good idea until it starts growing mould somewhere between India and Nepal.  Luckily, these problems have been solved by travelers who went before you.

Travel stores like TravelSmith, outdoor recreation stores like REI, Campmore, and some better drug stores now stock workable solutions for the international traveler's bathing needs.

The solution to the washcloth problem is a synthetic scrubber.  What it looks like is stiff perforated nylon fabric pieces scrunched together and tied in the center to form a spherical shape with a piece of string coming out of the center.  The scrubber is often available at drugstores and better supermarkets.  It is called a nylon bath puff, nylon bath sponge, and other names.  What is wonderful about this rough sponge is that it will not mold or mildew.  It can be dried by swinging it into the air for a few seconds.

The scrubber takes a little getting used to.  It doesn't feel like a washcloth. By comparison, it feels stiff and rough.  The first time you use one you may feel like the scrubber is removing the top layer of your skin.  That's because it is.  After you use it a few times the post bath sensation is refreshing and clean feeling.  The scrubber can be compressed to the size of a walnut and fit easily into nooks and crannies of your suitcase or in an external mesh pouch of a backpack.  They have little value and are less likely to be stolen. They don't look like washcloths, so it is unlikely that maids will confuse them with towels.

The bath towel solution is also synthetic. It consists of an absorbent fabric that is as much sponge as fabric.  These towels will absorb much more water than a natural fabric towel and can be easily wrung out and become instantly reusable.  Like the scrubber synthetic towels feel different.  At first, it may seem like they couldn't possibly work.  They are smaller than bath towels and feel smooth. These characteristics are misleading. The smooth material works like chamois cloth and absorbs an unbelievable amount of water.

Synthetic towels are not expensive and can be considered disposable to travelers who need every bit of available luggage space for purchases and gifts. These towels can be folded and compressed into a space about the size of a paperback novel.  Travel towels are more likely to be found at travel stores and outdoor recreation stores.  A commonly available brand is Aquis Microfiber Towels.  Try using the Amazon search tool at right or go to Yahoo! Shopping and key in the key words.

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