Along with my passport, money and camera, there’s one other item that comes with me everywhere: a travel scarf. If I roll it up tightly, it won’t crease and it doesn’t take up much space. But it doesn’t only accessorize an outfit. Here’s why a travel scarf is the most versatile thing you’ll pack next trip.
A boon for light sleepers
We’ve all been there. You check into a budget hotel or hostel and everything looks fine. But when you retire for the evening you find to to your horror there’s a light right outside your window and the curtain doesn’t reach right across. This is where your oversized scarf comes in handy: simply tuck it over the pole to block the gap. Savvy travellers will always have a couple of spare clothes pegs in their pack in case there’s nothing to hang the fabric from. If you’re a really light sleeper, the scarf can also be used to block out those annoying red lights from any in-room electricals. If you’ve already repurposed your scarf as a curtain, try a couple of Post-It notes instead.
Forgotten your beach towel – no problem
There’s no need to pack a bulky beach towel if you have your scarf with you. It takes up considerably less space but is surprisingly absorbent if you need to towel off after a dip. While it’s still dry, your scarf will do a perfectly good job as a blanket to keep the sand out - whether you want to sunbathe on it or enjoy an al-fresco picnic. You can even carry your food down to the beach in it. Just pop your lunch in the center, bring up the bottom far enough to make a secure flap and then tie the top ends around across your shoulders like a cross body bag. But remember, if you intend to use your scarf later on that same day as a towel, you’ll need to eat everything you brought as your bag will by then be a bit soggy!
Cover up in the name of religion
Many places of worship require shoulders and knees to be covered; some even require your ankles to be out of sight. It can be hard to judge the rules in advance. I visited Georgia and Armenia last summer – the former demanded modest attire everywhere yet its neighbor was considerably more laid back. Though many of the churches I visited had helpfully placed sarongs in baskets by the door, some looked like they’d already seen a lifetime of use. If you carry your own scarf with you, you can tie it over your shorts or drape it across your shoulders. Of course, it’s also perfect as a head scarf if you need to cover your head too.
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Kill the chill
One thing it’s easy to forget if you’re jetting off somewhere hot is a sweater. They’re bulky, so who wants to lug around something that you’re unlikely to need? If you’re heading out on a day trip, you’re definitely not going to want to carry it even if you did remember to pack it. But while the temperature outside might be toasty, step on a bus and you’ll often find that the air conditioning has been turned up to the max. I once took a four-hour ride across Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula and it may as well have been the Arctic. But since then, I’ve not made the same mistake. Pull out your lovely big scarf and wrap it around your shoulders. With the vents above your head closed off, it will be more than up to the task of keeping the goose bumps at bay.
Handy in an emergency
Forgive me for writing that I hope you don’t need your scarf for my last suggestion. An oversized scarf makes the perfect sling if you do yourself an injury; tied tightly enough it will also stem the flow of blood until you can get to a doctor. Fortunately, this is one tip I’ve yet to need myself and I wish you the same luck for your own travels.
Do you carry a scarf or sarong with you when you travel? If you have other uses for it that have proved to be invaluable, we’d love to hear from you.
- By Julia Hammond -
Julia is an Essex based travel writer. A member of the British Guild of Travel Writers, Julia features in several anthologies – Bus Pass Britain Rides Again, To Oldly Go and Essex Belongs to Us. In addition, she has published five Unanchor guides for Kindle and has written for numerous online and print publications including the Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Visit her website & her Blog to read more.
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