A towel, [the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’] says, is about the most massively useful thing that an interstellar hitchhiker can have.” I travel a lot, though admittedly so far only on Earth and I have my own version of the towel. Wherever I go, whether it is a long-haul flight to somewhere exotic or a local weekend away with friends, I pack a large lightweight scarf in my hand luggage. On recent trips, I have come to realise how massively useful it is. Here are a few of the things you can do with a scarf:
- Keep warm – An obvious one, but important! I can wrap it round my neck to cut out an irritating draft or wear it more like a shawl where the air conditioning is turned up a bit too high.
- Keep cool – When the sun is blazing, having something lightweight covering my head and shoulders makes a world of difference to the apparent temperature, and the state of my sunburn.
- Keep the light out – On long haul flights, I often tie my scarf around my head so it covers my eyes acting like a blindfold.
- Keep the noise out – Another benefit of tying my scarf round my head is that it can cover my ears. Perfect in noisy hostels!
- Keep covered – If I need to cover my head or shoulders to enter a religious site, my scarf fulfils that function.
- Keep clean – A scarf can double as a towel if you need place to sit on grass or sand without getting a dirty bottom.
- Keep fresh – A scarf can be used as a towel or a face flannel (though not both on the same occasion unless you are very careful) if you failed to heed the advice of the Hitchhikers Guide.
- Keep a camera safe – Wrapping my camera in my scarf gives it some protection against the knocks and dust of a journey.
- Keep in one piece – It hasn’t been necessary yet, but in an emergency a scarf can double as a bandage or a sling.
Whilst I may not have the authority of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, my advice is if you are going travelling, take a scarf. Like a towel but more compact!