The Consummate Traveler: Pre- vs. Post-Arrival Ironing

May 16, 2013 Updated: May 16, 2013

There are different schools of thought about packing for a trip. Some believe it is important to spend time carefully ironing clothes before packing for a long trip to avoid having to do it onsite, while some take on the ironing task after arriving at their destination. I’d like to discuss these approaches and provide some tips on how to preserve any ironing done pre-flight.

Is pre-arrival ironing worth all the effort? I personally do not think so. After years of business travel, my approach now is to focus on getting my garments washed at home, but not necessarily ironed in advance. This is mostly because it is a challenge to keep clothes unwrinkled en route. Some fabrics may hold up better on the trip, like denim, wool, or polyester blends, but more delicate or lighter weight types such as cotton (forget about linen) wrinkle easier. Keep this in mind while choosing your travel outfits if you dislike ironing.

If for some reason you do choose to invest energy in ironing prior to arrival, one tip I would recommend to better preserve your work is using large sized plastic garbage bags to fold in between your packed clothes (like making an omelet).

Start the process by putting down half a plastic bag on the bottom floor of your suitcase, and put down your first layer of clothes on top of it. You finish by folding over the remaining half of the plastic bag over the clothes you just put down. Repeat the process as often as you like. Or, if your focus is to preserve only one special outfit, use a plastic bag with a hanger poked through to keep fabrics smooth.

My own routine on arrival is to spend time unpacking and ironing my pants, skirts, and shirts for the coming workweek. I am currently in Bangkok, where the weather is extremely hot and humid. This made it impossible for me to bring heavier fabrics or polyester blends that hold up well. My entire wardrobe for this trip involves paper-thin cotton, which wrinkles horribly. A good hour of elbow grease was spent on getting my garments looking decent! What I did notice however was that heavier cotton tee shirts and skirts held up rather well and didn’t require much touch up.

As always, I wish you all the happiest of travels and a wrinkle free journey!

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