Call it what you will, shrug, bolero, cropped cardigan. Casual cotton or knit, or fancy with lace and sequins, the humble shrug is the perfect clothing item to pack for travel.
Long sleeved or short sleeved, the shrug can change an outfit instantly, freshening up your look when you feel you have been in the same dang outfit for 3 days (Hello, Contiki 2005). Great for mixing it up day to night. A fancier shrug can dress up jeans and a tank top, a cream lacy shrug and some neutral flats and you can head out for the night not feeling like a dirty backpacker (or less of one).
They are also great for those destinations where you will probably live in singlets and sleeveless tops but may need something to warm you up on a cooler day or if the nightly temperature drops. A shrug keeps the shoulders and back warm but won’t overheat you. Great for air conditioned places too.
A pair of sisters I know packed 4 different shrugs each (well they do take up less room than the average cardigan or jacket!) for a 4 week Europe trip, then borrowed each others to mix and match with the rest of their tops and dresses. Literally created a tonne of outfit choices. Genius!
Anyone who does long haul flights realises just how different the sleep portion of the flight can be with the right neck pillow. Or if you are like me the ‘eyes are closed and trying to sleep but cannot sleep’ portion of the flight. I normally take a blow up / inflatable neck pillow to save space in bags. Which of course, has its benefits. But I stare enviously at those with snuggly, squishy bean bag style pillows and curse for not ever buying one!
For my upcoming 35 day trip I AM going to try out one of these, despite the obvious ‘where do you put it between flights issue’. I chose a black and white striped one, like below. I’ll report back on the success! However if I ditch it mid trip we may be rethinking the idea ie: not a success!
Scarf, wrap, pashmina… call it what you will, just make sure you pack one in your hand luggage. A large, wide cotton one is best, I have a few which have seen a lot of sights and saved me a lot of times. Here are some of my faves…
Since European backpackers now cannot allow sleeping bags they provide bed linen. Though at under ten pounds a night bed linen could mean a dirty handkerchief sized pillow and one sheet. Hello wrap – instant bottom sheet or pillow cover. And yes I realise you get what you pay for.
Chilly planes and air conditioning means you can wrap your wrap (he he) around what ever part of your body is cold, even your feet or drape it over your head to block out light, or scrunch it up to lean on when you’re trying to nap in transit.
If you somehow leave your towel on an island in a lake in an island, or it happens to blow overboard your yacht (who me? lose stuff?) A cotton wrap can work as a light towel in hot weather until you get a chance to buy a replacement.
Balmy weather calls for sarongs, but a good cotton wrap can be draped around the waist for trips to the beach or pool.
If sightseeing in the heat and visiting mosques and churches, a wrap can be draped over the shoulder or even head (I’m looking at you Turkey) to make your outfit more respectful and appropriate.
Can’t fit it in your hand luggage? (who me? over pack?) simply tie it around the straps of a handbag or luggage bag like you’re jet setting in from Paris.