Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Must-Have Summer Travel Item

Summer travel season is nearly upon us and it's time to start packing for our next beach destination! My must-have travel item for the summer season? The versatile and multi-functioning SARONG.

Here are some of ways to use a sarong:

A jaunt to the beach requires a sarong

1. Beach cover-up: The most common reason to use a sarong is to keep you modest between your hotel or hostel and the beach. Particularly in Southeast Asia where local cultures are still a bit conservative when it comes to the amount of skin revealed and you should stay mindful to local customs.

2. Beach spread: Okay, so now you're on the beach and ready to catch some rays or waves. Use your sarong, yes the same one you're wearing, as a beach blanket. Spread it out and you've got a lovely beach blanket!

Lounging post-bath bucket shower in Burma, about to apply thanaka
3. Towel: Now that you find yourself on the beach, you need a swim to cool off. Whoops! Did you realize that you've forgotten a towel? Good thing you've got your sarong! A sarong can also double as a make-shift towel in general. In warmer climates, I just wrap the damp towel around me and turn my sarong into a cooling wrap as I get ready for bed.

4. Change room: I like lazying by the beach or pool as much as the next gal, but I just can't do it in a wet swim suit so I always have a spare bikini to hand. Unfortunately, a change room on a remote beach can be hard to come by. My solution? The sarong. It took some practice, but I can now use the sarong as a change room by simply wrapping it around myself and using it to change out of my wet swimsuit and into a dry one. I suggest you practice in the privacy of your room before trying this in public. Or maybe you're not such a freak like I am and can deal with wearing a wet bathing suit.

Too cold on an overnight bus? Grab your sarong and turn it into a blanket
5. Blanket: Thailand and Vietnam's buses are notorious for cranking up their air conditioners. At first it is absolutely soothing to escape the heat and humidity into the cool air of a Thai or Vietnamese bus. Until five minutes later when you've got goosebumps and your teeth are rattling! Although most bus companies will provide you with a blanket (why they don't just turn down the air conditioning is beyond me), they can be too small, especially since I'm trying to bury myself into one to stay warm. I use the given blanket around my feet and body then wrap my sarong over my shoulders and neck to combat the Arctic cool.

6. Pillow: A sarong isn't going to be the best pillow you've ever slept on, but if you're traveling on an overnight train or bus, a rolled up sarong does the trick to help prevent a stiff neck in the morning. Trust me.

Use a sarong to cover your shoulders at religious temples, India 2010
7. Admission to Religious Sights: Many cultural and historical sights in Southeast Asia are also religious sights and they require modesty in all patrons. Bring a sarong with you (I carried mine in my daypack everywhere) and cover up when necessary.

The sarong is an essential when I travel and I always pack at least two in my bag. With so many functions, my sarongs get plenty of use (something that can't be said for many other things that I pack) and need regular replacement. Souvenir shops often sell colorful sarongs so it's not hard to pick up a couple at any destination. Plus, they're so pretty too!

What's YOUR must-have summer travel item?

**Originally posted on Travel Dudes in April 2011.

© Connie Hum 2012


  1. Yes, yes, yes...Sarong's are most practical. I love to bring scarves when I travel. I use them as dresses, skirts and security blankets for my kids. I usually bring 2 because they're so light weight and the kids won't have to fight over them. I bring cashmere ones for the cold, cotton/silk ones for warm weather. It is also a souvenir item I can't resist buying everywhere I go.

    1. Scarves are good as well! Just not big enough for the beach! =)


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