In 2015 I visited more than 100 cities in 25 countries. Winter or summer, my #1 favorite carry-along item was a simple beach sarong. From temples in Bangkok to bath houses in Budapest, here are 10 ways to use it you might not have thought of.
- Pool cover-up – Whether you’re heading to the pool bar or running up to your hotel room for your forgotten 50 Shades of Grey, a sarong is a great way to cover up without actually getting dressed. (OK, so we all knew this one!)
2. Do-rag – Sometimes we ladies just don’t feel like doing our hair. Other times we need to protect ourselves from the harsh sun, especially if we’re going on a sweaty hike. A sarong can make a wonderful do-rag. If you’re really lucky, a strange Bedouin man will teach you how to tie it correctly.
3. Beach mat– When you’re done using your sarong as a beach bag (see #8), untie it and lay it out on the sand or a cabana chair. Instant beach towel!
4. Bath towel – When you’re packing light for an extended trip, a sarong can do double-duty as a bath towel. Sure, it won’t be as absorbent as a bath towel, but it will dry fast, especially when used in conjunction with #9.
5. Cover-up for temples – Struggling to be respectful of other cultures in Bangkok’s sweltering heat? A sarong is your answer. Lightweight and small, you can easily tuck it into your day pack or purse, run around all day in your spaghetti strap t-shirt, then throw it over your shoulders before you enter a temple. If your t-shirt has sleeves but you need to cover up your Daisy Dukes, just tie it around your waist in a long skirt.
6. Shawl for cold weather – Sometimes the beach breeze gets cool at night. No need to bring along a sweater if your handy sarong is tucked in your purse. Just throw it over your shoulders for an instant shawl. Bonus: it also makes a great airplane blanket.
7. Head covering for mosque – Virtually every mosque has free head coverings you can borrow at the front desk, but carrying a sarong means you’ll always have your own. Note that ladies must cover their head, arms and legs before entering the mosque. Some mosques will also make women wear a full hooded robe, even if they’re already wearing long sleeves and a head scarf.
8. Beach bag –Traveling light but still need a way to carry your book, phone and sunscreen to the beach? Just tie the ends of your sarong together into a nifty little hobo bag, then untie it to use as a beach towel.
9. Privacy curtain – This one is my favorite! If you’re at a hostel and have the bottom bunk, simply tuck your sarong into the bed frame under the upper bunk’s mattress. Instant privacy screen! Bonus: if you’re also using the sarong as a bath towel, it will dry quickly this way.
10. Scarf – You never know when the night will turn chilly. Keep a sarong in your purse and voila! Instant neck scarf.
What’s your favorite “go-to” travel accessory?