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Choosing the Right Travel Blanket
Are you a snuggler? Do you like to burrow into your blanket the moment you're settled on the plane but don't like the scratch or smell or the blanket you've been given?
Why not bring your own travel blanket?
Of course you can use it in flight but it's good for plenty of other things too - if you're traveling overland or facing excess air conditioning or you simply want something to do double duty as a blanket and pillow.
Here are some of the best travel blankets - and some of the most popular - on the market:
The Cocoon CoolMax is ultra-light, compact and moisture wicking. An absolute favorite!
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If Microfleece is what you're looking for, this one is designed to keep you warm in drafty air.
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The Travelrest 4-in-1 Premier Class has a different approach - you wear it over your shoulders so it won't slip off.
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What to look for in a great travel blanket
If you're actually going to the trouble of taking your own blanket with you, it had better be the most wonderful travel accessory you own, or nearly: soft, sleek and sultry, or warm and fuzzy, or big and comforting.
Before you buy, however, do consider these factors:
- Size: make sure your blanket isn't cut too small. There's nothing more unpleasant than constantly having to pull it up over your cold toes or your freezing shoulders. A good-sized blanket should cover both ends of your body comfortably, with a little extra to tuck under your feet.
- Weight: of course it should be light, if it's going to take up part of your precious baggage allowance. These days that allowance is so slim you'll even prevaricate about taking a toothbrush. The good news is the new generation blanks take weight into account, although the thinnest and lightest may not warm you as much.
- Space: how much space does it occupy? It should take up only the tiniest portion of your packing space. If you open your carryon and half of it is a blanket, you're not thinking this through. Your best bet if you're traveling light is to have a blanket so slim it barely coats the bottom of your suitcase. Of course if you're driving, just grab a big one and throw it in the trunk!
- Packing: do you roll or fold? Depending on how you pack, you may prefer a blanket you can do one or the other with. All it takes is for a blanket to be just a smidge too large and you won't be able to roll it up and take it with you without leaving most of your clothes at home...
- Texture: what does it feel like? Is it incredibly soft and silky? Do you find yourself wanting to touch it all the time or is it so scratchy you can't wait to fling it off? Some airplane blankets feel as though they were dragged through sand before being packed. On the other hand a soft and furry travel blanket will help you fall asleep and carry you away.
- Washing: if you're traveling with it you need to be able to wash it - and dry it - easily. You won't always have a washer or dryer at hand. Some blankets dry so slowly you'd have to lay them fully in the sun for at least a day before the water evaporates. If you've rented a house or an apartment with a balcony, you're fine, but if you're in a dorm or sharing a hotel room, think again.
- Practical: yes, blankets can be useful for other things too. They can have pockets, hoods, bags or matching pillows. You can wrap them around you like a sarong, or even use them as a towel in a pinch.
- Style: oh yes, of course it matters! Of course an ugly blanket will do just fine but wouldn't you rather have something sleek and elegant? Perhaps something that doesn't look as though your dog just ran around the garden with it?
Ultimately, taking a travel blanket on your travels isn't for everyone. I take one along if I'm taking a long-haul flight and plan to stay put for a week or two. It's like a crocheted throw in your living room: not essential, but it sure is comforting.