What’s the one thing I can’t travel without?

When we travel there are usually things that we always seem to bring with us, and I’m not talking about the obvious things like our wallet, phone, toothbrush, shoes or perhaps a computer.

Usually I find it’s a comfort thing, or just something we can find a bazzilion uses for. So whether we travel overseas, or just to the beach to meet a friend, it’s usually there.

What is it for me?

my shawl!

Dan of the World shawl fashion

It’s not just a pretty scarf

Ok so you might be slightly underwhelmed, but unintentionally it’s been the one thing I seem to always have with me. Even right now, sitting on my hard little bed inside my modest little dorm room writing this, it’s currently in use.

Currently it’s a heat shield between my computer and my legs, without this comfy shawl my legs would be getting uncomfortably hot from the heat generated by my old computer. If I didn’t have it I’d probably use a t-shirt instead, but I prefer the shawl.

What else can my shawl do?

Presently these are the ways I’ve used this ingenious piece of cloth:

1 – As a scarf around my neck to keep me warm.
2 – A blanket to wrap around my shoulders.
3 – An all purpose blanket to sit on, either at the beach or park or anywhere similar.
4 – A towel to dry me off after swimming.
5 – An eye mask to cover my eyes when I’m trying to sleep, in a place that has too much light. Like a shared dorm room or hotel with crappy curtains.
6 – A hat when I’m walking or driving in the sun for an extended period, like along the beach or visiting some tourist place.
7 – A heat shield to protect my legs when I’m using my computer (as previously mentioned).
8 – A face mask if the pollution is bad or I’m riding a bike and don’t have a proper face mask yet.
9 – A fashion accessory if I feel like making a statement or being a hipster (for example wearing it with a t-shirt but no jacket, or wearing it with a flower crown).
10 – A mosquito barrier. I literally put it over my head with a tiny air hole near my mouth to breathe.

Dan of the World shawl cover

My shawl is a living history

Ok I don’t want to go too deep here, or pretend that it’s anything that it’s not. But my shawl has a few scrapes and bruises on it.

It’s still in impeccable condition considering it’s been up the entire east coast of Australia, the jungles of Vietnam and is now in Taiwan with me. There is the odd tiny tear mark, but that’s about it.

However now I can look at it and go ‘oh yeah, that’s the time it had a trillion ants on it, so I jumped up and flung it away, only for it to land in a tree branch which didn’t want to let go of it so easily.’ Or ‘yeah the exploding bit of log from the fire unfortunately exploded towards me at a hundred miles an hour’.

Either way it’s not perfect, but it has character, and it has history, my history.

Dan of the World sun shawl sun protector

Dan of the World shawl scarf

Where did I get it and what’s it made from?

You might think I got it from a small village in India, or a Balinese night market stand. Nope, I’ve never even been to India or Bali, not yet at least.

The truth is it’s nothing fancy. I bought my shawl from a small shop at Noosa Junction in Noosa, Australia. It was about four years ago, and I can’t remember the name of the shop.

It was one of those shops that has all trinkets and candles and massive wooden carvings of Buddha. It was about $15 and it’s made from 100% silk and has cool pictures of elephants walking on it.

Dan of the World shawl hat

It’s the one essential ‘non-essential’ thing I love having

My shawl is almost like a comfort blanket for me. If I’ve had a shit day, or I’m feeling really lonely or sad or whatever when I go to sleep, I fling it up over my neck and head, and the feel and smell of it calms me. Is it sad to occasionally need a comfort blanket when you’re 37? I don’t think so.

When I travel I do need my phone, and if you want to get all clinical and black and white then yes, the things I literally can’t travel without are things like my phone, shoes, wallet, money and to an extent my computer. But those are all obvious things that everyone would need.

Interestingly though it’s those obvious things that are always on my packing list, so I don’t forget them. My shawl is never on a list, it just always seems to make it’s way into my bag or around my neck whenever I do travel. Whether I am going to a new country or meeting a friend at the beach.

I really like my shawl, and while it is a bit sentimental, it’s utterly useful in so many ways.

Do you have something you always seem to have with you at most of the places you go?


  1. Hi Dan,
    The same to you, I have hundreds of scraves. I put at least two in office, one in my motobike, one in my bag….i even use it everyday, not only on holidays. It’s definite simple, multifuntional, light thing I cannot live without.


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