I’m no luddite. I know I’ve gone on in the past about carrying too much unnecessary technology on the road but if I could I’d take a washing machine with me everywhere I went. Alas, one of the chores of travelling is washing your undies in a bucket, probably with a scrap of soap you found in the shower or one of those impenetrable green cubes from the local market in Aleppo that looks like it was made of sperm whale blubber in the 1820s.
Of course, there are other options, namely the laundry woman. Sometimes she’s cheap enough to use, and sometimes not. It really depends on what you’ve got on for the day and how smelly your clothes are. And whether or not you’re threads are nice enough to risk having holes poked in them by over-zealous old ladies stirring a boiling pot with a stick or smashing your jeans repeatedly against a rock.
Laundry costs can vary between a cheap $1/kilo or a ridiculous $1 per item, in which case the bucket beckons. Where am I going with this? Ah yes, I’m supposed to be reviewing the Go Travel washing line. Okay, so it’s a double length of elastic cord, twisted together so that instead of carrying pegs you can simply pull two corners of the clothing item through the twists and it will hang downwards as though pegged. Unless it’s too heavy or, say, waterlogged. The aforementioned pair of jeans will probably fall straight out of the twists and into the dusty road over which you strung your line, but t-shirts and underwear should be okay. The ends of the line are secured by hooks to whatever window frames, trees, lampposts or llamas stand still long enough. It also comes with a couple of suction cups to suspend the whole caboodle from bathroom tiles, assuming it isn’t overloaded (see above).
The thing is, and this is hard to get away from, a lot of people will just use the technological marvel that is … a piece of string! You can tie it anywhere and just hang your vestments over it, which is almost as secure as the corners-through-the-twists method; it’s not elasticated but you can tension it with a simple trucker’s hitch; it’s easy to replace, and cheap too. But Go Travel make niche products for travellers who like to have specific stuff for specific jobs. Think: bag tags to identify your suitcase (instead of a bit of coloured string); luggage straps to keep your case closed (instead of a lot of string). Come to think of it, most Go Travel products could be replaced by a piece of string. Sorry GT, I’ve just denigrated your entire existence.
The only travel accessory you'll ever need
I no longer have my washing line, but I am not sorry. The time I found it most useful was very important indeed and worth the sacrifice. It was last year, during a five-day yacht trip in the Caribbean, from Panama to Colombia. My old man, with whom I was travelling, admitted beforehand that he gets seasick and had intended to fly but changed his mind at the last minute (I suspect because he didn’t want to spend 4 days on his own in Cartagena). He was okay while we pootled around the San Blas Islands but when it came to the two-day crossing he was soon doing a great impersonation of Mark Knopfler.
Yes, he was in Dire Straits.
We had been assigned the for’ard cabin (I believe that is the correct nautical commutation), and while I managed to stay asleep while being tossed up in the air like a sautéed mushroom (in fact, I quite enjoyed it) he soon felt nauseous. If he wasn’t lying horizontal he was throwing up. In his position he couldn’t use the toilet and his dodgy prostate seized up. To add to his discomfort the air was stifling and we couldn’t open the hatch because the sea was too rough for the latch to hold.
Enter … the Go Travel Washing Line! Hurrah! I basically used it as a bungee cord to lash the hatch open so he could breathe, and it’s elasticity made it ever-so-slightly better for the job than a piece of string. Good on you, Go Travel. It was the best use I ever got from the thing, and the last as I forgot to retrieve it when we disembarked in Cartagena. I’ll stick to string from now on.