While we would all like to be the kind of low-maintenance traveler that can fit everything they need to wear for three or four days in a bespoke tote bag with the edge of a scarf and a pair of sunglasses peaking out like a cocktail garnish, there is also this thing called reality.
No matter how carefully I roll my dresses and shirts in dry cleaners plastic to prevent wrinkles or layer items in a garment bag, inevitably, for some items to look their best, they just need to be ironed the old-fashioned way. Which is why I often sigh loudly to myself when I open a closet or armoire only to find a dorm-size ironing board, not much bigger than the profile of a loaf of bread.
And if you stay in boutique hotels or unconventional lodging options as often as I do, you know there is rarely a surface (that doesn’t look like a piece of abstract art or a reclaimed copper wire spool) where you can prop its flimsy fold-out legs, so you end up sitting on the floor while you attempt to press a button down into submission.
More from Southern Living
WATCH: The South's Best Food Cities
During my latest stay in New Orleans, I booked a room at The Drifter, a 1950s-era motel resurrected into a 20-room Instagram-dream complete with a pool and a lobby that lures locals and visitors alike. I expected to find the same ironing board situation, but instead, I found the PurSteam Elite Travel Steamer. I had all but given up hope of wearing my midi-length linen dress but decided to give this electric tea kettle-looking device a try. I can safely say, I have never felt more joy during a laundry-related task.
The PurSteam Travel Steamer indeed operates by the same principle of an electric tea kettle, but instead, it channels the steam into concentrated jets from small holes in the top. It quickly and easily removed several of the deep creases in my linen dress while also helping the seam around the waist and shoulders, where an iron would struggle to press, lay straight. I was so impressed that I purchased one via the Amazon app before I left my room.
Trust me, I understand how valuable carry-on luggage space can be and how stuffing the equivalent of a small kitchen appliance in your weekender bag might make it look like you anticipate staying a bit longer than the name suggests. But now that I can throw this steamer in any of my bags, I don’t pack contingency clothing in case what I really want to wear ends up wrinkled and there isn’t time to iron it. Now, I can easily bring a dress back to life after an afternoon’s worth of adventuring and continue wearing it into the evening with just five minutes of steaming.
For $25, this steamer is hands-down my favorite budget-friendly purchase of 2018. If you’ve already added to cart and confirmed your order before you read this paragraph, don’t be surprised when it completely takes the place of your iron at home too.