Updated: Sep 17, 2021
By Lindsay Tigar
Updated 4:28 PM EDT, Mon April 26, 2021
While the concept of traveling again might be exciting, it’s been so long that many of us might have forgotten that the reality of jet-setting isn’t as glamorous as we imagine it. That’s something I experienced firsthand when I traveled nonstop for 15 months, seeing upward of 25 countries spanning six continents.
Yes, the experience was incredible and life-changing. But it also taught me some important lessons about what you actually need on the road — and what you can skip. Like that “Out of Office” sun hat? Great for a photo opp — but definitely not practical when you’re packing light. The one thing you can’t leave home without, however, is a Turkish towel.
This multipurpose wonder item isn’t just great for combating the beach and sand; it also comes in handy no matter what your travel adventures throw at you. After all, if there’s one thing seasoned travelers know best, it’s to expect the unexpected, remain flexible and come prepared.
Keep reading for the 101 on Turkish towels, along with some of our favorite picks:
What is a Turkish towel?
Sometimes referred to as hammam towels or fouta towels, this specific type of towel is composed of Turkish cotton, which is known for having long fibers. While that might not seem important to you, since you have a closet full of towels, Turkish ones are often stronger.
This means they’re durable for travel and can serve as a picnic blanket in a park, protection from the sand on a beach day and even a way to dry off when your Airbnb didn’t provide towels as promised. They aren’t as soft and cozy as others, but they become more absorbent each time you wash them. And as a bonus, they’re extremely quick to dry. So if you have a 14-hour layover and want to hit the beach in Barcelona, your Turkish towel will be dry by the time you board.
They also tend to be thinner than fluffy towels, which is ideal for travelers who want to pack light or need to save space in their bags. You can use one as a shawl to stay warm on a chilly airplane ride, or even as a bathing suit cover-up as you walk back to your pad to detox from the sun.
Apart from the obvious practical benefits, they’re also, well, gorgeous.