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The Versatile Scarf & Why You Should Pack One

versatile travel scarf

When it comes to a travel packing list, there aren’t many items more versatile and timeless than a scarf. Besides serving as a wardrobe accessory, it’s multipurpose nature (like the sarong or Turkish towel) means the travel scarf can help solve problems in many areas of travel.

The scarf does everything from adding warmth and style to serving as a makeshift towel. Let’s have a closer look at why you should pack the versatile scarf when you travel.

The Many Uses for a Travel Scarf

travel scarves
  • Add warmth on a cool day. It’s amazing what a little extra coverage on our neck and chest can do.
  • Add style and pizzazz. Dress up a boring travel outfit with a bold scarf.
  • Easily change your look with a packable accessory.
  • Hide valuables with a hidden-pocket scarf.
  • Use a scarf as a towel, beach towel, or picnic blanket in a pinch.
  • Convert into a headscarf to protect from sun and wind.
  • Use as beach cover-ups and wraps, much like a sarong.
  • Create extra privacy with oversized scarves or pashminas. Hang from the top bunk in your hostel dorm, drape to create a privacy screen for changing, or hang on some bushes to block your backside when nature calls… in nature.

Why They Never Travel Without One

These travelers mentioned that scarves are the one little thing they can’t travel without.


When asked why she loves traveling with a scarf, Beverly stated:

“Because a scarf is one of the most versatile pieces of clothing you can take backpacking. I wear it in the winter to keep me warm, on chilly evenings in the summer and even if the weather’s hot I use it to cover my shoulders because getting sunburnt is painful! A scarf can also be used to dress-up an otherwise dull backpacking outfit and a make-shift beachmat when you’re sunning yourself.”

Sarah and her circle scarf

Sarah loves traveling with her circle/infinity scarf:

“Not only is it stylish, it keeps me warm and is extremely versatile. I’ve used it so much and take it almost everywhere! I’ve worn it on chilly ferry rides in Newfoundland, used it as a pillow on a night train in Serbia, and as a picnic blanket in parks. If you want to stay warm, look stylish and have something that can perform a multitude of tasks, then a circle scarf is for you.”

Scarves with Extra Features

Hidden Pocket Scarves

speakeasy hidden pocket travel scarf

For wearable storage that’s not a purse or backpack, and for hidden storage that’s not a money belt, check out hidden pocket scarves. Speakeasy Travel Supply have designed scarves for all seasons equipped with zipper pockets for secret storage of your money, passport, or other bits and pieces.

Read our review of the Speakeasy travel scarf.

Convertible Scarves

convertible travel clothing for women
Caroline demonstrates how the Encircled Chrysalis Cardi can be worn in multiple styles.

Encircled has created a scarf that converts into a cardigan or even a dress! It’s an entire article of clothing that you can wear as a scarf on travel days which means… no packing necessary!

Read our review of the Encircled convertible scarf.

Do you always have a scarf on your travel packing list?

P.S. Guide to Packing for Conservative Countries


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versatile travel scarves
versatile travel scarf

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Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm planning adventures or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

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Gear We Use

speakeasy hidden pocket travel scarf ad
Speakeasy Hidden Pocket Scarves


Splice Jaisalmer Reversible Tunic
Splice Reversible Jaisalmer Tunic


Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes
Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes


tom bihn 3d organizer toiletry bag
Tom Bihn 3D Organizer Cube


Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack - Fits in the palm of your hand!
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack


Turkish Travel Towels


Travel Resources

HPL Learnables

Handbag Packing Masterclass – Learn to pack your lightest bag ever in this revolutionary packing class run by HPL founder, Brooke.

Creative Ways to Minimize Your Toiletry & Beauty Kit – Practical tips alongside DIY recipes designed to help you pack lighter, smaller & with fewer liquids. (Also included as a bonus to Handbag Packing Masterclass.)

Book Your Trip

Viator – Enhance your trip experience by booking from thousands of tours across the globe. – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

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