As everybody knows,

“A towel ... is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have.”

But what about us terrestrial travellers?

Personally I recently found these unprecedented uses for my towel:

  • Since the design is an Australian flag, use it to indicate which tent that “hot Australian hitchhiker” is staying in at a Romanian beach.
  • As custom fit pillow & insulation inside my sleeping bag hood that I could manipulate around to cover most of the face opening when the night got too cold, without sacrificing comfort.
  • When pre-cooked Turkish truckstop food led to an embarassing situation and I didn't have a change of trousers, I could accept a ride offered by strangers without dirtying the car seat by sitting on my towel.

What indispensable uses have you discovered for your towel that wouldn't've been so easy to solve without it?

  • 2
    I think this question is too open ended and more of a discussion. See meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/2320/… Nov 4, 2011 at 17:52
  • 2
    Funny, but not really a question. Nov 4, 2011 at 19:21
  • 2
    Unless designed for a wiki, perhaps?
    – Beaker
    Nov 5, 2011 at 3:05
  • Sure let's make it a wiki! Dec 5, 2011 at 8:55
  • 1
    converted for you :) in future - edit the question, and on the right there'll be a checkbox for 'community wiki' :)
    – Mark Mayo
    Dec 5, 2011 at 9:09

6 Answers 6


things I do occasionally with my towel while traveling:

  • fold it to a pillow at night, or cover any (stained) pillows i encounter in cheap hostels/motels
  • place wet clothes on one half, then wrap the other half over it and sleep on it, and the clothes should be dry next morning
  • as a beach towel
  • group loose or dirty/wet items together in your backpack
  • fold it a couple of times and rest my arm on it while driving (the armrest in my car door vibrates too much)
  • cover the steering wheel while you park your car in the sun, so it won't get hot
  • use it as blanket so you won't get sunburn
  • make it wet and wrap it around your neck if you go hiking in summer
  • strangle the noisy, drunk backpacker who walks into the dorm at 3am, yelling, slamming doors and waking everyone up
  • or i just dry myself after a shower with it
  • 2
    Yes I've also used it to shield myself from yucky pillows of course! Nov 6, 2011 at 13:33
  • 5
    You are just so frood! Dec 15, 2011 at 1:14

I once forgot a towel while backpacking. I was on a minimalist trip, so I didn't want to buy one and as I was traveling with only a schoolbag sized pack, I had very limited absorptive items (only 2 shirts, one pair of hiking cargos, one pair of board shorts total). So, every morning, I would shower, then use the shirt I wore the previous day as a towel, then I would wash it out with shampoo and hang it on the back of my pack to dry. It worked out okay, but I would have smelled significantly better and avoided some unnecessary rashes if I just remembered me camp towel.

Once in Greece, on Corfu, we were at a toga party (... I know) and my brother fell face first into some rocks. Used the towel as a bandage.

Also, towel = great pillow.

  • 2
    I feel like that was a band camp thing I just did.
    – Beaker
    Nov 5, 2011 at 3:11
  • 1
    Wtf is a toga party? Jan 18, 2012 at 23:09
  • @Roflcoptr The better parts of American culture are sometimes lost in translation. Here (long... but a classic part of American cinema): youtube.com/watch?v=HFtxLh6Ij9c
    – Beaker
    Jan 19, 2012 at 1:40

Towel? Air dry, if needed.

As for sleeping, I always went with the long johns, ski mask, coat and gloves approach. You can shed those items during the day and take up half the space as a bulky, "look at me I'm obviously a vagrant" sleeping bag.

But yes @Ginamin, towels make amazing pillows.

  • 1
    Hah +1 for vagrancy
    – Beaker
    Nov 6, 2011 at 0:54
  • I've had several times, always in Mexico, where laundry took longer than expected and I had to air dry after showers for a couple of days. I don't think a towel makes a great pillow on its own but it makes a great layer if what's below it is rough or cold or unclean. Nov 6, 2011 at 13:31

When I travel with a big towel, rare as it is, I will almost every night use it as an extra blanket.

Most of the time I travel a small towel, the size many people use as a tea towel, those I only use as an extra blanket when I feel extra cold or then the blankets are too light. (I sleep better with an heavy load of blankets.) It takes care to keep it on me but once I sleep it does not matter that much anymore.

But almost every night in a hostel, lower bunk, I have a towel as a kind of curtain. Allowing the towel to dry and making my bed a bit darker when I want to sleep.


The towel of course helps a lot if you sweat while hitch-hiking.

Secondly, in case of a small cut leading to bleeding, you will need to tie it around the wound to stop bleeding profusely.

Towels can be used to tie up stuff and carry easily which might be wet, or not fit to keep inside your bags directly because of other reasons.

In case of extremely hot weather conditions, a wet towel tied around your head would do wonders in keeping you cool.

While sleeping, it could act as an extra cushion for you head and save your precious night's sleep.


I find a towel to be useful only for drying. I've tried sleeping on it, but it seemed to absorb dirt from the ground with ease. Once it was dirty, I didn't want to dry myself with it.

I'm a living Macgyver, but the towel is a tool with only one use, in my opinion.

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