The One Household Item You Should Always Pack No Matter The Destination

Travel is more than just moving from one place to another. It's about new experiences, meeting different people, and exploring unknown cultures. However, despite the excitement and adventure, it also comes with its own set of challenges — especially when packing smart comes into play.

From hiking shoes to swimsuits and first aid kits, most seasoned travelers have their packing list down to a T. But there's one household item that often falls off the radar: a good ole towel. At the end of the day, bringing your own towel provides an added level of comfort and hygiene that you can't always expect from accommodations — especially while you're on the move.

Versatile and practical, towels can do a lot more than just dry you after a shower. In fact, they can also come in handy as a beach coverup, a makeshift blanket during a chilly nighttime bus ride, or as curtains to add an extra layer of privacy if you're staying in a hostel and sharing a dorm. A multi-purpose item with uses that span beyond the obvious, towels can be an incredibly dependable travel companion no matter where you're headed or for how long.

Why hotel towels aren't all that great

Relying on towels provided at your accommodation might seem like the most convenient option, but it might not always be the best one. And this isn't just about quality — it also has to do with hygiene.

Experts agree that towels — especially when left in damp, dark spaces — can be a breeding ground for germs. In fact, according to Time, around 90% of bathroom towels are contaminated with coliform bacteria, and another 14% have traces of E. coli. Plus, once they come in direct contact with your bare skin, towels can actually retain most of the dead cells that scrub off your body. And with the top 20 layers of your skin made up of these dead cells, the numbers don't lie: Towels are rarely as clean as we think.

Beyond these terrifying numbers, there are also plenty of travel stories about less-than-pleasant experiences with provided towels. Ranging from mystery stains and wear to unavailability, you might find yourself stuck with a frayed, scratchy towel that's seen better days — or worse, a towel that's a little musty from the previous user. According to The Travel, if a room has been vacant for over a week between lodgers, the same towels are typically left in there for the next not-so-lucky guest. This means you might actually end up using a damp, germ-ridden towel that's been sitting in a hotel room and hasn't been properly looked after.

Bringing a towel along for the ride

Packing a towel can help you shake off these concerns — meaning there's one less thing for you to worry about on top of everything else you need to do to stay safer while traveling.

Worried about a towel taking up too much space? Choose a lightweight, quick-drying towel that won't add too much weight to your bag and can be ready for reuse in no time. If you're not a fan of the classic quick-drying towel, Turkish towels — or hammam towels — are a great alternative. Made with Turkish cotton, they're much thinner than a normal towel, quick to dry, and become more absorbent with each use.

Lastly, there's always the option of buying your own towel wherever you go. This way, you'll support local businesses and ensure your comfort and hygiene at the same time. Plus, once you're done with your trip, you won't feel too bad about leaving it behind before heading home.