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Casual

Travel SOS | Emergency Travel Situations

You’re out of town or maybe just leaving home for the day, and some sort of mishap happens to your clothing. A lost button, wrinkled pants, or ketchup splatter – we’ve all been there at one time or another, but, what to do? Emergency situations require emergency action… so, take a look at this article, which will give you some tips on how to survive unforeseen wardrobe misfortune while away from home.

1. You’re at the hotel and unpack your suitcase, only to find the shirts and pants you took time to neatly organize got tossed around and now need ironing. You glance around the room for an iron and ironing board and come up empty handed. Unfortunately, the front desk can’t help you, and you’re beginning to panic. Relax! Here are a few options that should bail you out:

• Hang the clothing on a hanger and hang it in a steam filled bathroom for 15 to 20 minutes. Be sure to close the door. Showering is a great time to do this, so you don’t run additional hot water unnecessarily. You may have to coax the wrinkles out by running your hand over them like an iron, or by pulling on the bottom of the clothing, which pulls on the wrinkles and helps release them. If all else fails, dampen your hands with a small amount of water and run your hands over the wrinkles, again like an iron, while the clothing hangs on the hanger. Let the clothing dry, and most of the wrinkles should be gone. Do not put clothing on until it’s dry, since wearing damp clothing creates wrinkles like you’ve never seen before! Also, before wetting any clothing, make sure the fabric can get wet without being damaged.

• If you happen to have an iron in the room, but no ironing board, you’re in luck… create a faux board or surface to iron on. A table, bed, counter top, or even clean floor can be used successfully. First, clear off the surface, making sure it’s clean and flat. Lay a clean white towel down on top, which should buffer the heat and protect the surface from heat damage, and voila – you have a makeshift ironing board! Be sure to use a white towel, so there’s no chance of color bleeding onto your clothing from the towel.

• Depending on how long you’ll be living out of a suitcase, you may opt to drop clothes off at the local dry cleaners for pressing. Most hotels can recommend a reputable dry cleaner.

2. You forgot to polish your shoes, or maybe not, but you noticed a nasty scuff mark. If at a hotel, look for or request a shoe shine kit. How about shoe service in the lobby? No luck? No problem.

• Grab a dry towel, cloth napkin or paper towel, and vigorously rub around the scuffed area. The motion will blend or transfer some of the existing polish and wax on the shoe to the scuff. If all else fails, use a marker to cover any imperfections. This is a good option if your shoes are black, but you may not have the same success with brown or other colored leather.

3. Fuzzy Sweater? You didn’t realize how hairy and old your sweater looks.

• Grab a disposable razor and carefully shave it. Take your time, so you don’t accidentally cut the sweater material.

• If it’s a pull in the sweater thread that’s thrown you for a loop (no pun intended), gently tug the fabric on the opposing sides of the snag, which can pull the thread back into position. If it doesn’t work because the snag is too large, another option is to cut the loop (snag) in half at the very top with a scissors, grab both pieces and tie the yarn into a small, tight knot. Cut excess thread off, while avoiding cutting into the knot. Only take this measure if the pull is large and you’re handy with a scissors.

4. So, you somehow forgot your underwear?

• Well, you can find the local Wal-Mart and buy yourself some, or you can wash what you’re wearing every night in the hotel bathroom sink and let it air dry overnight. Bar soap and shampoo are a great fill-in for laundry soap. Another creative way of washing your underwear is to wear it into the shower and wash it along with your body. Hmmm…

5. A button has popped off, and you can’t get away without it.

• If it popped from a button-up shirt, check for a spare button on the inside of the front of the shirt, down towards the bottom/hem. If it’s your waist button, attempt to conceal the gap with a belt. There are other, more extreme measures you can take, but they can damage the material and possibly render the pants unwearable. Pinning with a safety pin is risky, and I don’t recommend it, since it could easily pop open. Many hotels supply emergency sewing kits, so seek one out and get busy! Replacing a button is relatively simple, provided you have the button. If not and there’s time, run on over to Wal-Mart to buy what you need.

6. A seam in your pants just busted! It doesn’t get much worse than that.

• If getting to a store to buy a new pair of trousers is out of the question, grab that nifty sewing kit and thread a needle. If you don’t know how to thread a needle, ask someone to do it for you. Then, turn your pants inside out - cut off any loose, hanging thread at the seam - bring the material together to form a seam - and stitch it up using small stitches; starting at one end of the tear and sewing to the other. Knot the sewing thread when finished and cut it off about ¼ inch above the knot. Chances are you’ll need to have the seam re-sewn later, but for now, closing up the tear is all that matters.

7. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, your pants rip and not on a seam.

• If you’re good with a needle, go ahead and sew it up – always from the inside. If you’re not so handy, try sewing tape, which is applied with heat from an iron; a patch, which can be ironed or sewn on; or grab the tape. Use clear tape, preferably packing tape, so it’s not as obvious, but any strong tape will do. I’ve even heard of using glue, when all else fails. The problem with glue is you may not be able to remove it and end up tossing the pants out. Hopefully, the tear is up high and you have a sport jacket to cover it. If not, and you can be casually dressed, wear your shirt untucked, or throw on a sweater.

8. Spills, drips, and splatters can definitely put a damper on your day.

• Of course, changing your shirt, pants or suit is the best option, but if this isn’t feasible, spot wash if possible. Depending on what is spilled, club soda, found in most restaurants, gets certain stains out really well. Or, run the stain under cold water and wash, or wash later when back at the hotel room. If there’s time, you might want to send the soiled clothing off to the dry cleaner.

9. You didn’t try your outfits on before you left home, and now you find your shirt or pants don’t fit and are too tight.

• If you’re not able to run to the store for a new shirt or pair of pants, thread that sewing needle and grab a pair of scissors! Cut the button off and move it no more than ¾ of an inch to the side of the original button location. More than ¾ of an inch will throw the alignment of the buttons and material off and will be noticeable.

• If you leave the collar open and try to hide it with a tie, chances are the unfastened collar will show. A wider tie knot may conceal it, or a safety pin – safely and securely fastened to the outside of the collar – should do the trick.

10. Clothing mishaps are bound to happen, but you can minimize the problems by taking a few precautionary measures:

• Make a packing list ahead of time when you’re not rushed.
• Pack no later than the day before you leave.
• Carry the gear you’ll need to rescue yourself: sewing kit with assortment of thread, needles, buttons and scissors; shoe polish; roll of tape; stain stick; travel iron; extra shoelaces; marker; extra change of clothes.
• Keep your emergency kit in a toiletry bag or plastic bag that’s ready and waiting to travel. Have it handy to throw in your suitcase or car.

Traveling is typically a time of high anxiety, especially when it involves a job interview. Plan ahead to lessen your worries and concerns by being prepared for what you may encounter on the road. You know how the universe works… if it’s going to happen at the most inopportune time, it will!

by Aaron Marino


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