A simple $1 bandana has saved me hundreds of dollars and hours of time. There's only one thing I don't use it for, because it's kinda gross...
Who carries a pocket handkerchief any more? I do. And you should too.
Mine’s actually a blue bandana, bought several years ago for a buck at a drugstore. It’s been in my backpack ever since. It’s incredibly useful for a number of tasks…
1. Children’s entertainment
Apparently, some people can turn a hanky into a little bunny. I can’t do that, but during particularly long Little League games, I distracted my 3-year-old great-nephew Britain in other ways:
- Tied it to Britain’s belt loop and told him he was a cat, a monkey, or a puppy. Many animal noises ensued.
- Tucked it into the back of his T-shirt as a superhero cape.
- Tied it in a corner where two fences met to create a hammock for the Beanie Baby he’d brought along.
My favorite, though, was the pirate headscarf. After all, his first name is the name of Capt. Jack Sparrow’s country.
I have asthma. Sometimes I have what I call a “bad air day,” which means I cough a lot. No sense grossing out folks on buses and planes – I grab the folded-up hanky to silence the hacking.
While having picnic lunches in the United Kingdom earlier this year, I’d spread out the bandana on whatever patch of grass or piece of wall I chose.
Sometimes, a hostel’s kitchen doesn’t have paper towels. I’m a messy eater, so it was good to have the bandana as backup during my travels.
Speaking of messy eating, the hanky may also double as….
While visiting my dad in South Jersey, I ate frozen custard as often as I could get away with it. On a warm day, it was hard to keep ahead of the drips.
Bowing to the inevitable, I tucked the bandana into my collar – where it probably looked dumb but definitely protected my shirtfront.
6. Emergency bandage
Last January, I fell down the steps at a house-sitting gig in January. Tied around my sprained ankle, the bandana helped me hobble around until I could get an elastic bandage.
Hostels provide towels only.
8. Hyperthermia prevention
I was in Death Valley in the summer. Yes, on purpose – my then-husband was covering a sporting event called the Badwater Ultramarathon. Dipped into ice water and placed on the back of my neck, the bandana kept me from overheating. It sure dried fast, though.
Which is actually another thing to recommend it: I can wash the bandana daily when traveling and it’s always ready to go in the morning.
The only thing I don’t use it for? Head colds. Although it’s a silly thing to be squeamish about, I don’t use bandanas to blow my nose. I’m not quite eco-friendly enough to eschew tissues. Gesundheit.