Lonely Planet Writer

Happy Towel Day...and other travel accessories

Image by Jim Linwood

As any reader of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy knows, the first rule of travel is 'Don't Panic', and the second rule is 'take a towel'. As the Guide says:

You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

Lonely Planet staff had a debate recently about whether a sarong is better than a towel (that sound was Adams turning in his grave). The conversation went something like this:

Jane: 'For a start you can dress a sarong up or dress it down. It can be a drying implement, a halter neck dress or, in a pinch, turban. Twist it, tie it, dry with it, a sarong is up for anything.'
Mark: 'It isn’t warm. A sarong is so wrong.'
Amy: 'Sarongs are generally flimsy and easily degrade with each use, especially near salt water and sun.'
Trent: 'I’ve found a compromise.'
Mark: 'Towels are towels, sarongs are sarongs, and it’s better if never the twain shall meet.'
Jane: 'If you’re packing a sarong you can travel with carry-on luggage. With a towel, you need a suitcase – seeing as it takes up half the space.'

We never did work out who won. Anyway, in recognition of Towel Day (25th May), here's something we can agree on: six other accessories that separate the travellers from the strags:

  1. Kor Delta hydration vessel - Made from BPA free, tritan plastic. Just a fancy way to say water bottle.
  2. Moleskine notebooks – They say: 'every Moleskine product is thread bound and has a soft cover with rounded corners acid free paper a bookmark an elastic closure and an expandable inner pocket that contains the Moleskine history.' We say: just a fancy way to say to say travel diary.
  3. Leatherman penknife – With multiple knives, files and screwdrivers in this tight package, you'll be able to MacGyver your way out of any situation.
  4. Princeton Tec fuel headlamp – It's dark out there and you'll need your hands free
  5. All-in-one plug & USB adapter – Travel to multiple countries (and planetary systems) with one adapter. Also comes with a USB plug for charging your camera and other USB devices. Doesn't work on Mars.
  6. Gorillapod - Steady your camera even without gravity.* It's got bendy legs for taking photos on any angle and comes in 7 colours.

*This statement has not been tested.

Got any other suggestions for travel accessories you wouldn't leave Earth without?