I’ll never forget my first trip abroad. I had just turned 18, and although I had wanted to get out and see the world my entire life, I really had no clue what to expect. I packed a huge suitcase full of ridiculous outfits that were hardly suitable for any of our plans and two travel journals (in which to chronicle my adventures in broken French and Spanish). To be honest, I didn’t love that trip. I was culture shocked by the overly forward French men, didn’t love the people in my group, and realized very quickly that carefully structured group tours were not my jam. Still, I learned a lot of unexpected lessons on that trip and my thirst for travel remained intact.
Fast forward to now, and I am still learning and growing with each trip we take. One thing that has definitely improved is my packing skills. I still would not consider myself an expert, but I’ve gotten better and better at knowing what to take along and what to leave behind. This year especially, I’ve stumbled onto one handy little item that has been a life saver on multiple trips now: the blanket scarf.
These babies go for 10 lira (roughly $2.50) on the streets of Istanbul and are worth every penny (kuruş?). I initially bought one because I was freezing one afternoon in Kadıköy and they looked really warm (which they are). However, I’ve discovered that these bargain accessories are so much more than what meets the eye.
First of all, they’re great for plane rides. We’ve been on many red eye flights, most of which have not provided blankets…and even when they do, they usually pale in comparison to my blanket scarves. They are generally pretty water-resistant, so they have been great as makeshift towels or covers to protect things from getting wet in the rain. I even used one to protect my 3rd degree sunburn from the heat in the Maldives. Rain, shine, or snow, these cheap rectangles of fabric have become my best friends.
What strange things do you swear by on your travels? I’d love to hear.