21 towel related travel hacks for Towel Day

UK Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy cover

“A towel, [Douglas Adams’ Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy says] is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have” so, to celebrate the 21st anniversary of Towel Day here is a list of 21 travel hacks using towels.

  • Dry yourself with it, or dry almost anything else

Pat or rub yourself, your children or pets dry.

Dry your washing faster by throwing a dry towel into the dryer to absorb excess water.

Twist your wet clothes tightly into a towel and wring, and the towel absorbs moisture before it can be reabsorbed by your clothes.

 Fold your wet clothes into a towel, place in a bath or shower, and step on it. Your weight and the absorbent towel removes moisture while keeping the relatively wrinkle free.

  • Use as clothing

As an extra-absorbent beach cover-up, sari or sarong or lunghi. Wrap it around the body or waist, as a skirt or tube or by putting the end between the legs and tucking it back into the waistband, knot it in the front, fold it into the waist or if you’re feeling daring just drape it.

Sew towels together or cut holes in the middle for your own absorbent kaftan

  • Use as a scarf, hat, turban or in fancy dress

Use your towel as a scarf for warmth, as bandana or drape as fashion statement to the airport and as a blanket on the plane saving vital luggage space.

Twist and wrap it into a turban to hide your bad hair day, to save head and hair from the sun, hide that your roots have grown out or that you have less hair than you’d like. Fold it into a Korean Lamb Head towel to protects your ears.  Attend a fancy dress party with the Korean style to become Princess Leia, with the turban as Deep Singh, and with a towel as a cape to become Carnac the Magnificent.

  • Sit on it

Use it as protection from rough ground, when you would rather not risk staining your clothes, as a picnic blanket, folded as a cushion for particularly uncomfortable seats or any seats in a nudist camp, where bringing a towel to sit on is important etiquette.

  • For privacy and etiquette

Wrap your towel around yourself or hold it around someone else as a one person changing room (this works better for children than adults). Knot between two posts or hang on a line as an emergency curtain. Use as a bib, tablecloth or napkin, or even an adult nappy. Ideally not at the same time.

  • Lay on or under it

Use it as a groundsheet or blanket o if you are cold (ideally under or between the sheets rather than on top of everything, since the air trapped between towel strands will better act as an insulator.

Alternately, use the so called Egyptian method as a low-energy method  to keep cool without blasting the air conditioning. This night time cooling technique involves the use of two towels. The first – a large and thick towel – is placed on the bed, with a thinner towel that should be damp but not dripping over it. Some say to sleep between the two towels while some say to sleep on top of both. Either way the moisture helps you stay cool without burning greenhouse gasses when the weather is too hot.

  • As a Linus-style comfort blanket or comforter.

So popular are towels for these uses that in Japan the Towelket (a smooth-to-the-touch combination towel and blanket, made with cotton, linen or gauze and filled with mulberry silk to absorb moisture) is used instead of the kake-buton (comforter) in the summer.

  • At rest and at play

Turn your towel into a simple maraca or shaker. Fill a matchbox or other small box with gravel, seeds or other small hard things. Wrap the the towel and shake.

Turn your towel, origami-like,  into a toy, swan, or elephant when you’re stuck in one place for weather, or join your fellow travellers and use your towels to make a fort.

Use with a rope and pulley for your own private zipline.

Use your towel as a blindfold in useful in games for young and old, and by using your towel to cut out the light, you can get to sleep anywhere.

  • As skeletal support

Fold or roll your towel into a bolster or pillow for your head, or use it to cut off some pains from the source; either to separate yourself from whoever is sharing your bed after an argument, or as a doorstop to keep out drafts.

Roll it into a horse-shoe shape as a neck support for those long train, plane or road trips.

Use a rolled towel inside a pillow case to support your neck if you sleep on your back or-  if you sleep on your side – the gap between your shoulders and the pillow. Osteopaths say this takes stress from your cervical spine’s joints, discs and soft tissues and providing the towel is not too large, will reduce neck and back pain.

Slip a rolled towel behind the small of your back to ease backache and strain during prolonged sitting. This can influence your entire spine and posture for the better, including the neck. This is particularly useful when you are driving in a car, working at an unfamiliar desk, stuck in a long distance coach ride or slouching on a sofa.

Use in place of a foam roller for massaging your back. This works, I have tried it.

  • In case of fire

Contrary to popular belief, it is better to wrap a dry towel around your face to protect it from flames and smoke. Wet towels are better for blocking cracks under the door, to prevent the smoke getting in the room in the first place or indeed to stop drafts, sounds or smells.

Put out a small accidental fire with your towel, first making sure the material is not flammable.

  • In case of sun or wind

Knot each of the four corners to strong sticks, peg the towel across a wind break, or if you are feeling ambitious attach ropes to each corner and hoist over a frame to create a useful sun shade. Do the same thing with the towel ninety degrees to the horizontal and you have a useful wind break. If the sun is bright and you are in a hurry,  just hold it above your head.

Use a towel to cover your sensitive bits from the sun (ideally before they get burned), and a damp towel an after-sun cooler.

  • In case of injury

Use as a field dressing or bandage, as a sling for arm or elbow, or as a tourniquet. Wrap it around an injured foot. You will be protecting the foot from infection, and it will be harder to walk on and damage further.

  • To wrap and carry

Wrap your towel around your torso to carry children or pets. Knot the towel over a stout stick to carry your things Dick Whittington style. Fold your towel into a pouch to hold a washcloth or keep small valuable things safe in your luggage.

Wrap fragile things in your towel to keep them safe, and so that when they break you’ll have all the pieces, or if they leak your clothes will be less stained. This technique works for camera lenses, the hotel toiletries you didn’t use and – in extremis – the entire mini bar.

  • To protect yourself from local wildlife and help local strays

Whether to distract bulls, flick mosquitos from the air, snap at stray dogs, beasts or people you wish to repel, wet towels are more dangerous than dry.

Stone-filled towel coshes are difficult to use and place you in potential legal peril, so need practice and consultation with your legal practise first.

Once you have got your towel home, donate it to the local animal sanctuary where it will have a multitude of further uses.

  • Escaping beach and desert

Sit on a plank of wood or other appropriate smooth surface and use as a sail when stranded on an island, or to speed over sand in the desert.  

  • For comfort

Use as a bath or shower mat for wet feet, or as a bedroom rug so you don’t step from the cold bed to the cold floor.

Use as a throw for uncomfortably cold (or warm) chairs (including car, coach and train seats).

  • For health and cleanliness

Use it to wipe things (sunshades, car windows, tabletops) clean and polish shoes, remove dew from surfaces in the mornings and to wipe things clean all day.

Use your towel as a mask when you’ve forgotten yours and accidentally wander into a covid-filled area.

When it’s so worn that it can no longer be used to dry things with, use it to get things wet.

  • When exercising

Fold or roll it into a yoga bolster for meditating, to kneel on during exercise, as a strap to help stretching or as the yoga mat itself.

Use your towel as a makeshift boxing glove, wrapped tight to show you mean business or loose to play.

  • When desperate

Use a towel to open an overtight jar.

Fold a towel over your arm and get a free meal because they think you’re a waiter, or at least let you use the toilet.

When escaping assailiants wrap your towel around your head so that sweat doesn’t get in your eyes.

  • On the way home

Scent your towel and use it to make your travel-smelly clothes bearable.

  • And Finally

Write all your past regrests and sorrows on your towel, then use it as a firelighter. Ideally only on your last night.

Do you have other travel related towel uses? Let me know in the comments!