The emperor's new clothes are probably made of Merino wool. It is impossible to look up travel clothing and not see raging endorsements for undergarments made out of this amazing natural material. The people selling these pricy undergarments make wide ranging claims. A Merino wool t-shirt will keep you warm, it will keep you cool and it will never smell of body odour. One clerk told me that she wore her t-shirt for a week. "Oh it didn't smell as fresh after a week but it wasn't a bad smell. It just smelled off. I just needed to air it out." Some people can do 30km day hikes in flip flops and not sweat. I'm not one of those people so I had more realistic expectations.
A nice pair of wool socks really does make a difference and they wash easily in the sink. My half price Merino wool t-shirt is not immune to body odour but it is holding up well. Wool dries quickly which can be a consideration when travelling in cooler climates.
My view on body odor has become more liberal and accepting. If someone else smells like a gym locker, it means that I'm probably not too badly. My acceptable level of personal hygiene is lower. I don't need to impress anyone. I'm not getting stared at. All good.
Julia and I have both noticed that individual items don't seem to smell bad in the suitcase but the barely detectable odours are additive and noticeable when a larger pile of laundry accumulates.
Here's an excerpt from an interview with the bass player for The Waterboys on how he handles packing for a long trip.
So, how does a traveling rock star pack for the road?
“I take one medium-size suitcase, two to three pairs of jeans, and as much underwear and socks as I can stuff in it,” Hood said. “You have to be careful about taking anything heavy.”
Getting laundry done on the road can be difficult because the band is on the move almost daily. He also said it can be expensive.
“It costs a lot of money to get laundry done in a hotel,” he said. “We have someone in the crew who will take it and get it done. You just hope you get all your socks back.”
So far I haven't had any laundry done by a hotel but I am keep that option open. Sending things out has its own set of risks. Since I needed a suit and a blazer to accompany my wife to nice places, I opted for fewer socks and shorts. On a longer trip, hand washing becomes an integral part of keeping the volume of luggage manageable. Shower gel seems to work pretty well as a detergent as long as the volume of laundry doesn't get too large. This week I had to plug up the shower drain and do some stomping around in 5cm of water to agitate a large batch of laundry. After it dried on the deck it smelled better than before so I'm considering my foot stomping method a success.