A pashmina is one of the most versatile items you can have while traveling. Call it a pashmina, large scarf, sarong, shawl, whatever you want. A pashmina is a must-have travel item that I simply cannot travel without. When not in use, I wear my pashmina tied to my bag for a pop of color (my favorite is teal). I picked up the pashmina I travel with most from a street vendor in Florence but this one from Amazon is eerily similar…
(See also 10 Multipurpose Must Haves for Travelers.)
Blanket on the Plane
I dress in layers for the plane, including my pashmina , as the temperature always seems to flash from hot to cold then back again. I have used my pashmina multiple times as a blanket or just to snuggle with while sleeping. (See also 10 Carryon Must Haves for Long Haul Flights.)
Pillow on the Plane
An extra pillow or back support is never out of place on a long haul flight in coach. Also, plane pillows can be disgusting. I try to keep them from my face as who knows when it was last cleaned.
Cover-Up for Churches & Temples
Many churches/cathedrals and temples will not allow you inside with bare shoulders or shorts. I always have my pashmina so I can quickly wrap-it around my shorts as a make-shift skirt (what difference that makes I have no idea but whatever) or wrap it over my shoulders as a shawl.
Head Cover for Mosques
If you are heading to a mosque, you should already be dressed conservatively but you will still need a head cover to get inside. I just drape my pashmina around my head and walk in. (See also Why You Should Skip Casablanca, Morocco.)
Cover-up at the Beach
I have often used my pashmina as a cover-up at the beach. This can be especially helpful if you just want to let your swimsuit dry out before you put your clothes back on.
I have used my pashmina as a beach towel. This can be especially helpful if you are just strolling along the beach and wanted to chill or if you are trying to minimize what you are taking as you are going on the metro.
Soft grass makes a great cushion but there are still bugs and the grass is sometimes scratchy. I take my pashmina to spread out and relax upon.
On the way to the beach or park, pack up your snacks and drinks hobo style in your pashmina, unwrap and halve a ready-made blanket.
Use the pashmina as a wrap-skirt, just be sure it’s secure, safety pins if you have them.
I’ll admit I’m not good at this one. I’ve only done this when I accidentally spilled on myself and needed to cover-up or was running out of clean clothes and my remaining top was a bity scanty (read see-through or spaghetti strap tank top). However, some people are awesome at this, just check out the video below.
Drape Fashionably Over the Shoulders
A pashmina draped elegantly around the shoulder with a nice necklace can dress up any top. They won’t even know you are wearing a t-shirt or tank top underneath!
Drape Warmly Over the Shoulders
Sure it was warm during the day but now you are on the terrace for dinner and it’s getting a bit nippy. Just wrap that pashmina warmly around your shoulders.
Wear Fashionably as a Scarf
Everyone in Europe wears a scarf. Wrap your pashmina around your neck as a fashion statement.
Wear Warmly as a Scarf
Sometimes the weather forecaster is a dirty liar. Thank goodness I always have my pashmina to add another layer of warmth around my neck, shoulders, or an added layer under my jacket. Thanks go out to my pashmina for the unexpectedly freezing cold that was Paris – March 2016, Venice – December 2014, Aberdeen – May 2014, etc.
Protection from the Sun
Once my skin starts to tingle, I know I only have a short amount of time to reach shade before I have to spend the next few days as a painfully boiled lobster. Luckily, my pashmina has come to rescue in this scenario as a poncho over my shoulders, a drape over my legs, or even just a tent that I can hide under until I can reach more permanent shelter.
Protection from the Rain
Does a pashmina work as well as an umbrella? Of course not. However, I don’t travel with an umbrella and a pashmina works in a pinch for a quick run to the metro station, cab, or restaurant awning.
Add a Pop of Color to a Monochromatic Palette
When traveling (especially carryon only), mix and match with neutrals are the words of the day. My neutrals are typically blacks, grays, and whites so a colorful pashmina adds the pop of color my wardrobe definitely needs.
Cover-Up After a Shower
Does your hotel have too tiny towels and no place to put your change of clothes in the bathroom? Been there. A pashmina works as a robe in a pinch.
Blend in with the Locals
Everywhere I travel seems to wear scarves more than Americans. Wrap your pashmina artistically around your neck and enjoy the locale as a local. (See also What to Wear in Spain to Look Like a Local or What to Wear in Paris to Look Like a Local.)
Buy as a Souvenir
Big scarfs are everywhere in Europe and can be gotten fairly cheap. My favorite souvenir is almost always something to be worn as I love to be able to respond to a complement with “Thanks! I got it in Milan!”.
Along with clothes, I also love to buy wine or exotic alcohols as souvenirs while traveling. I try to travel with Reusable Wine Bottle Protectors but I don’t always have room for them and not all bottles fit (See Visinata from Romania). That’s when my pashmina souvenirs come in handy as extra packing materials. (See also 12 Gifts Every Traveler Wants.)
Curtains for Windows
The most unusual use for my pashmina has been as a curtain for my apartment in Valencia, Spain. Who thinks lace see-through curtains are a good idea where people can (& did) peak inside? Not me that’s for sure. I actually bought a beautiful navy pashmina to use for this and then brought it home as a souvenir wrapped around some Lladro ceramics.