I never travel without a scarf. Even in countries where it’s sweltering hot and a scarf seems like the opposite of what I should be packing. Scarves are incredibly handy items that you will always be thankful you packed.
1. Wear a scarf to stay warm when it’s cold outside…bet you didn’t know that, huh?
2. If you’re on the road for a while, a scarf is an easy way to jazz up a tired outfit. This is one of the most obvious reasons, but not more obvious than reason #1. It’s a fashionable accessory for those traveling light.
3. In some areas, women are expected to cover their hair. Covering your hair with a scarf is expected especially when entering mosques. If you don’t bring your own scarf when visiting a mosque they will provide you with extra ones they have laying around, but wouldn’t you rather be wearing one of your own scarves for your pictures?
4. When you’re traveling you never know what to expect. You could encounter delays or extreme air conditioning and in these situations your scarf can be used as a blanket. When backpacking through Asia I used my scarf countless times as a blanket. It can also be used as a pillow on long bus rides or when you’re stuck in an airport.
5. Many people aren’t aware that in many countries showing your shoulders is a little risqué. You might be shocked to learn that Thailand is one of those countries. When I worked in northern Thailand I would wear a tank top since it was hotter than hell and then I would cover my shoulders with a light scarf so as not to shock or offend anyone. Having a scarf on hand can prevent uncomfortable situations if you find yourself somewhere dressed inappropriately.
6. Scarves are wonderful when you are in a situation where you are exposed to the elements. I hate when it’s windy and my hair whips around because I end up with a lion mane by the time I escape the wind. If it rains my hair gets incredibly frizzy. In both of these cases a scarf comes in handy to protect your do. The worst though, is when you find yourself in a windstorm with dust blowing in your mouth and eyes. In this case, a pair of sunglasses and a scarf, are clutch. Wrap the scarf around your hair, mouth, and nose and put on the sunglasses for full protection.
7. When you are towel-less and in need of a towel, you can use your handy dandy scarf to dry off. A scarf is pretty much a pretty towel when it really comes down to it. I’ve used my scarf to dry my hands countless times and even after showering a few times. The problem with using a scarf in this case is that it requires much more frequent washing which can sometimes be annoying, but it’s much better than having nothing to dry off with.
8. Reason number eight, is that a scarf will be useful in surprising ways when you least expect it. While on a seven-hour bus ride in Nepal, I got off the bus for a pee stop, but there weren’t any covered areas to squat behind. I didn’t want to drop trou on the side of the road with all of the cars driving by, so I removed my scarf from my neck and wrapped it around my waist and used it to cover my butt. It took me a while to get started even though I was covered up because I’m not used to being gawked at by on coming traffic while attempting to relieve myself. I was incredibly thankful for having my scarf on that day.
This post was originally written for Do It While You’re Young, an awesome website for young women interested in traveling, studying, working and volunteering abroad.