April 5, 2014

Que Sarong, Sarong

In the 20 years that I have been traveling, I've learned a thing or two about packing. I have a few non-negotiables that go with me no matter how little space I may have in my bag. My journal always accompanies me, and I also pack some sort of sarong, or at the very least, a giant lightweight scarf that can do double duty. 

I guarantee you in the packing priorities department, there is nothing more versatile than a sarong. It has always been on my essential packing list -- no matter where I'm going or what the weather will be like. It's been my security blanket, if you will, on many trips.

My favorite sarong over the years is this blue one in the scrapbook photo. I even wrote a little blurb about my security blanket in the scrapbook:

I can't remember exactly when I bought this sarong -- it's been a staple in my luggage forever, it seems. I do know I found it at a TJMaxx in America (exactly which one in which state remains a mystery). I thought at the time the price seemed quite steep for a piece of material -- $10? $20? Little did I know this sarong would become my security blanket: a curtain for my caravan in Scotland, a sheet in Budapest, a beach blanket in Estonia, a scarf and pashmina on chilly planes and trains... and occasionally an actual sarong at the pool. In Cape Town, it served as a chair cover to hide the plastic patio furniture inside our granny flat. My 'security blanket' awaits the next trip -- already in a suitcase. -- November 2009

Clearly, my security blanket was worth every penny. So, it was a great surprise to me that I completely forgot to pack it this week. The Sailor and I went to Florida for a few days for a last minute beach getaway. Apparently pregnancy brain kicked in, because I was ill-prepared for actually hanging out at the beach. I at least remembered a swimsuit (and I even tried it on before I packed it to make sure it would accommodate my growing belly...) But I didn't remember anything else. No beach towels, no chairs -- not even a simple sarong. 

Luckily, the kitschy souvenir shop across from our hotel had one left. The price was right and it turned out to be the perfect size to use as both a beach blanket and a cover-up when the sun got a little too hot.

 I've used my sarong for all of the following many times over: 
  • Tablecloth: Indoor or outdoor!
  • Curtain: I have previously stayed in hostels with giant windows and no curtains. I like a good view, but I also don't like people looking inside my room while I'm sleeping.
  • Door curtain: Particularly useful in caravans or RVs when you want a breeze, but also privacy.
  • Robe: Covers a lot more than those chintzy towels they give you at the spas in Budapest, let me tell you!  
  • Towel: Desperation, people -- it's much more effective than a tiny bandana. I speak from experience. And, if you're using it as a robe, you may as well dry off with it too.
  • Blanket or sheet: Essential when you end up in a grotty hostel somewhere, although if you're already using it as a curtain (see above), you may consider packing a second sarong for your next trip.
  • Picnic or beach sheet: Nobody wants a towel full of sand. Sarongs are much easier to shake the dirt out of than a thick plush towel.
  • Pillow when rolled up: Do you know how long some train rides are?
  • Skirt, scarf or even a head covering: Perfect for chilly travel days, or those times when bare skin is not acceptable. 
  • A cover-up for swimming or lounging at the beach: The sarong's original use!
I'm kind of glad I forgot to pack a sarong for Florida -- I'm not one to buy souvenirs, but sometimes it's fun to have a little memento, even from a short trip. Now I have another sarong to accompany me on the next adventure. Hopefully I remember to pack it, along with my journal.
What's always in your suitcase? 

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