Travel is my greatest passion, and more often than not it involves a fair amount of nature and adventure. Whether it’s exploring the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil or hiking the Mombacho Volcano in Nicaragua, there is one item I simply wouldn’t dream of leaving behind – my bandana. Bandanas can be purchased for about a buck, are lightweight, come in a variety of colors sure to suit even the most discriminating fashionista, and take up virtually no space. But best of all is their endless number of uses, serving as everything from a luggage identifier at the airport to a potentially life-saving medical supply in the wild. Here are just a few travel uses for the common bandana.
Let’s face it – when you hike, you sweat, especially when you are in the tropics, or areas with extreme humidity. I have found nothing more accommodating for this nuisance than the bandana. If purchasing them new before a trip however, be sure to launder them a few times without dryer sheets to ensure optimal absorbency.
In my experience, wash cloths are not a normal amenity in many parts of the world, so when I get back to the hotel, boat, camp, etc., I hit the shower with my bandana. (It probably needs to be washed anyway after a full day of being used as a sweat mop.)
Nothing is more refreshing when you’ve been hiking a couple hours through a tropical rainforest than a cool cloth to the face and back of the neck. Bandanas are great for this purpose. Just dampen them with a little water (which you should be carrying lots of) and you have a great way to cool down. If you’re lucky enough to be hiking by a stream or waterfall, it’s even better.
Bandage or Splint Ties
Adventure travel offers many opportunities for injury, and an ingenuously-purposed bandana can save the day. It can serve as anything from a bandage for minor cuts, to ties for securing a splint.
To absolutely ensure I always have an extra bandana when I travel, I keep a brightly colored one triple-tied to my luggage handle. (I triple tie it, not only to make sure it is secured, but also so that the ends don’t get caught in the baggage handling machinery.) It’s a great way to easily spot your suitcase amid the sea of anonymous bags.
Mask or Scarf
Weather conditions can change suddenly when you’re out exploring, and a minor thing like a dust storm or sudden drop in temperature can turn into a serious challenge very quickly. Using your bandana as a mask or head scarf might be just the thing to get you back to safer ground.
So the next time you’re putting together your checklist for a trip, don’t forget to include a trusty bandana or two. By the time you get back, you’ll probably be able to add a few uses to this list.