A warm welcome and thanks to Teri for contributing this post. A solo traveler who recently returned from Paris, she tried something new on this trip. She went with a group to reduce the costs of traveling solo yet wasn’t committed to any group activities. She shared a room but didn’t see much of her roommate over the course of the week. She found the best of both worlds.
When I pack for a trip, whether it’s a few days or several weeks, the third thing on my packing list, after medication and toothbrush, is pashminas (note the plural).
The pashmina was invented a zillion or so years ago but I only figured out how useful they are when my neck started aging before the rest of my face. When I realized a pashmina could be used in so many other ways, it topped underwear on my packing list. I mean, really, who’s going to put underwear on their head to protect themselves from the sun?
Bottom line: A pashmina can replace a light sweater or jacket for warmth or style, and you can shove one in your day or evening bag for lots of different “just in case” situations. A few of my examples:
Airplane blanket: A large lightweight wool or wool/silk combo is far superior to the blanket the airline wants to $ell you.
Shawl: Shoulder-baring shirts are great for strolling around on hot days, but don’t go over so well in places like The Vatican. Throw a pashmina over your shoulders and look like the pious person we all know you are.
Sweat catcher: Fancier than a bandanna, a lightweight linen or silk pashmina can soak up the perspiration as you wander from point A to point B.
Sun protection: Drape one over your head around your neck when you’ve forgotten your hat (or in place of hat if you’re like me and you just look goofy in hats). Add a pair of fabulous sunglasses and you can pretend you’re Jackie O.
Bug protection: Thankfully I had a pashmina in my bag when I was strolling through a cemetery recently. A rainstorm had passed by, bringing out all sorts of flying insects (my least favourite type). I whipped out my pashmina and wrapped it around my neck so that the bugs couldn’t wreak all sorts of havoc on the back of my neck where I couldn’t see them.
Evening wrap: Dress up a simple outfit or take a pashmina in your bag if you expect the weather to turn cool while you’re out in the evening.
Finally, a use to avoid: I have a wee problem. It is a small problem in the grand scheme of things and, well, it’s about weeing in particular (google “overactive bladder” for the tragic details). While travelling this summer, I enjoyed a fabulous solo lunch at Le Moulin de la Galette, which included a litre of water and a half bottle of wine. Maybe it was that half bottle of wine, but for some reason, I left the restaurant without using le WC. I continued my exploration of the Montmartre hillside but suddenly found myself sort of lost in maybe the only section of Paris that does not have a single café, restaurant, or store. And I needed to go. Immediately. After a few unsuccessful attempts at trying to maintain my, um, composure, I took the pashmina from around my neck and wrapped it around my waist, managing to hide my “accident.” I retraced my footsteps and sought relief at the first café I could find. It took me another 40 minutes to find my way back to my hotel. All was well, the day was saved… until I heard someone calling my name when I had a block to go. I’ll save that story for another time.