The One Travel Accessory Every Mom Should Own

\Young beautiful mother walking with baby carriage in european city center.; Courtesy of Iryna Inshyna/Shutterstock

French women swear by this accessory, as evidenced in their stylish daily wardrobes that are more often than not cinched with one. It’s the one simple thing that you can tie on and go, while giving yourself that effortless je ne sais quoi.

The humble scarf also happens to be the absolute essential item for women on the go, and the one travel accessory every mom should own.

For starters, a scarf is the ultimate layering accessory that can make base layers look fresh and original—whether you want to add some flare to your jeans and T-shirt for a day of sightseeing with the kids or tie one around your neck to add some originality to that little black dress when it’s time for a fancier night out.

And since scarves roll up into a tidy little package and take up so little room in your hand luggage, you can think about bringing a couple different ones along. A good idea is to pack an ample and more casual cotton scarf in a neutral color or pattern, as well as a little silk-like affair, perhaps with bolder colors.

But scarves aren’t just good clothing accessories; they also do double duty on vacation. These are our favorite uses for a scarf when traveling.

oung smiling woman portrait in the street in London.; Courtesy of pio3/Shutterstock

Put Some Pep in Your Step

Aesthetics first. Scarves are just cute. And tying one around your neck can make a sneakers-and-jeans ensemble take on a life of its own in a way that will have you feeling stylish everywhere, from Paris to Prague.

Related: Flip It and Reverse It: 10 Clothing Items That Do Double-Duty on Vacation

Reemonde Extra Soft Cashmere Blend Pashmina Shawl; Courtesy of Amazon

Extra Warmth on the Plane

Airline blankets aren’t the best. But when you BYO scarf, you’ve got an automatic extra layer to snuggle up with during those typically chilly flights. We especially love the Reemonde Extra Soft Cashmere Blend Pashmina Shawl for travel. It’s amazing how tying a scarf around your neck or pulling it tight around your shoulders (or those of a chilly child) can warm things right up. And you can easily tie a scarf around your head, too, for catching some in-flight shuteye.

Related: 7 Things You Should Always Wear on the Plane

Tablecloth scarf; Courtesy of Amazon

An Impromptu Tablecloth

This is where an oversized scarf comes in handy. A scarf can make the perfect table cover when you’re faced with spreading out a meal for the kids on a surface that looks none too tidy. It can also serve as a convenient picnic blanket for making a patch of grass or sand more comfortable for everyone.

Beach sarong; Courtesy of Amazon

Instant Sarong and/or Towel

How many times have you happened upon the perfect swimming hole and passed it up because you didn’t have a towel along to dry off? Well, a scarf works perfectly well as a pareo or a sarong—both for drying off after a dip on the go, and for situations where you want some modesty, too. That could mean a public swimming pool or the beach, as well as an exotic temple where covering your shoulders or legs is a requirement for going inside.

Related: 9 Best Beach Towels (That Are Also Multifunctional)

Nursing Cover Scarf; Courtesy of Amazon

Nursing Cover

Some babies prefer to be covered up while nursing in public, just as some mothers prefer to be that way, too. And if you and your little are in that set, a scarf makes for a particularly great nursing cover while you travel. Usually it’s best to go with something light and gauze-like for a scarf that segues well to working double duty as a nursing cover. But if you’re headed somewhere chilly, your baby might like the extra cozy factor of a scarf with extra heft, particularly if you’ll be nursing outside.

Related: How to Travel With Breast Milk: 8 Common Questions Answered

Longtime travel writer and adventurer Terry Ward lives in Florida with her husband and young son and daughter. She’s constantly on the lookout for the next Scandinavia Airlines Kids Fly Free deal to save money on flights to Norway, her favorite place to visit both in the winter (Northern Lights!) and summer (Midnight Sun!). A travel writer since 2001 (read: long before the kids came along), she’s written for such publications as Endless Vacation Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler and Scuba Diving Magazine, among many others. Find Terry on her website, Terry-Ward.com.

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