By Harriet Lewis
I’m a huge fan of traveling light–at my age (sixty-something!), I’m past the point of wanting to look fashionable every day when I’m on the road.
I haven’t completely given up, though, which is why I never underestimate the value of a good scarf. Not a flimsy, silky thing, mind you–I’m talking about the humble bandana. You can find them in patterns and colors funky enough to change up an outfit–essential for light packers who mix and match the same few pieces every day–but I’ve found dozens more uses over the years that definitely make it worth packing more than one.
Here are 10 of my favorites:
1. Napkin. An environmentally-friendly solution for impromptu picnics.
2. Placemat. Perhaps even more crucial when those picnics take place at a communal rest area way off the beaten path.
3. Packaging. Not sure what to do with those little craft purchases you make at roadside market stalls? Place your items in the center of your bandana and tie opposite corners together.
4. Seat cover. You never know when you’ll encounter a dusty surface just when you need to sit down.
5. Bandit-looking face scarf. Covers your mouth and nose in case of a dust storm or airborne illness.
6. Bracelet. Wrap it around your wrist for a unique alternative to jewelry.
7. Cooling necktie. Dip in cold water and secure around your neck–or, if you’ve packed accordingly, wrap it around a cooling gel pack.
8. Cold compress. Unfortunately, accidents do happen. In case of a minor injury, fill your bandana with ice and hold or tie against the affected area.
9. Sleep blindfold. Excellent for unfamiliar hotel rooms or the plane.
10. Pillow cover. Lay on top of your pillow or pillowcase if you’re sensitive to detergents. Personally, I like to spritz mine with a bit of lavender oil, which relaxes me as I drift off.
Harriet Lewis is Vice-Chair of Grand Circle Corporation, a family of travel companies that includes Overseas Adventure Travel. You’ll find more bandana-rama–and a wealth of travel tips from safety to shopping–in Harriet’s new book, 101 Tips for Women Travelers, which is available for free on OAT’s website. Or call 1-800-955-1925 to request your copy.
Bandanas: Peter Marquardt