Why a Portable Steamer Belongs in Your Luggage

Steamers let you look sharp, no matter where you are.

No one likes to unpack and immediately iron important shirts and dresses. A steamer at least makes that simpler.Shutterstock

There are vacations where all you need is a swimsuit, a shirt, and a book. But if you’re flying out for a meeting, a wedding, or just a locale with a lot of fancy restaurants you intend to eat at, you’ll need to have nice clothes and a wrinkle-free look. Fortunately, a portable steamer makes that a breeze.

It’s Okay to be Steamed

A garment steamer is better than an iron, because you won't risk damaging your clothes with a potentially dirty device.Amazon

Begin by looking at the reservoir. Any steamer has a trade-off when it comes to how much water it can hold; the bigger the reservoir, the more clothes you can de-wrinkle without refilling it, but the more space it’ll take up. If you only need it for the occasional dress or pair of khakis, get a smaller one. If you’ve got a family to smooth out on the fly, pack the bigger one.


A steamer is convenient because it heats up quickly and remains as hot as you need it.Amazon

Get a sense of the heating element. Depending on the design, steamers can take 30 to 90 seconds to get up to full blast, and the longer it takes, the more consistent the heat will be as you go through a tank. It really comes down to your needs, though; are you going to be zapping the occasional wrinkle, or do you have a whole wardrobe you’ll be neatening up? Don’t forget to check the materials as well; some steamers get hot enough that more fragile fabrics should be kept away.

A Little Bit of Everything

Steamers also provide a variety of benefits beyond simply getting the wrinkles out of your clothing.Amazon

Don’t forget, steam isn’t just for your clothes. Campers use steamers to help sterilize their food prep gear and water bottles, for example, and if you catch a cold on vacation, you can help keep it off the doorknobs and countertops so nobody else gets sick. Look for a high temperature, preferably a device rated for sterilization, if that’s something you need on your trip.