- Destination: Netherlands Antilles
- Departure: 48 hours
- Allotted Time for Packing: Ten Minutes
- Essential Items: …?
Inevitably, I am disappointed by “travel essentials” lists. The fault is a proliferation of “un-necessities.” The reason is a gap between the author’s and my own practicality and experience. Travel purpose, location and duration is disregarded and an awareness of the environment or alternative lifestyles (e.g. vegan) is absent. However, there are items that obliterate the competition for usefulness, environmental friendliness, and space-saving mass. So, toward the betterment of the ‘travelverse,’ I present the first post in a series about the true essentials for journeys near and far, north and-… you get it.
1) My Sarong:
Locations of Previous Use: Lebanon, Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Netherlands, Germany, France, Tunisia, 30 of the contiguous states in the USA, Canada, and Uganda.
I cannot overstate the qualities of the serviceable sarong. The sarong is a large square or rectangular cut of cloth. The true essential should you find yourself shirtless (it happens!), in need of an escape rope (yikes!), or “cold as tits” (always in an airplane!). The sarong can be a shirt, short, skirt, scarf, dress, washcloth, table cloth, beach cover, head covering (hijab), head wrap, hat, towel, sheet, sunblock (as a ‘desert cape’), picnic blanket, dishcloth, curtain, napkin, prayer mat, yoga mat, sack, shawl, or sling (Allah, forbid!). It can serve as bubble wrap for delicate souvenirs, or block windy drafts along door and window cracks. In times of insecurity, a sarong tied between bed post and door handle could function as a lock. Tying sarong corners to the bunk rails or slats creates a hammock “nightstand.” I also use sarongs as laundry sacks. The malleable sarong is easily rolled, folded or stuffed into luggage.
Personally significant, the sarong rendered obsolete my hair dryer (a bulky horror for the itinerant female). As a turban it works better than air drying hair. The turban colorfully hides nappy hair too. Neither should the sarong-bearing nomad fear the unanticipated opportunity to visit a holy site. Whether a Mosque or Buddhist temple, the sarong covers a multitude of skin sins!
For the environmentally conscious, the cloth is durable and can be re-used. The accelerated retirement of my seven-year-old sarong (due to my dog’s faulty perception that it needed a chew toy) resulted in a pillow case, a travel pouch, and a thread-festooned living room. Thanks to a sans canine lifestyle my second sarong has now outlived a decade of pulling, tying, wringing, stretching, and wrapping travails. You can buy 100% organic sarongs (for sensitive skin nomads) which are vegan and environmentally friendly. Of course, for both men and women, the sarong is ultimately perfect as just that, a sarong!
However, I am curious how you have used your sarong?
*Thanks to fellow TCK, Don Mateo, for inspiring this post!