Have you ever tried to go out at night lugging a large bag or cumbersome backpack?
Uncomfortable, right? And not particularly attractive.
I've often faced that problem - I need to look good but have my hands free.
So I'm about to be exceptionally enthusiastic about a little travel accessory that doesn't take up any room in your luggage, is as light as a feather and brightens up your look.
It's something I take with me whenever I travel.
I'm talking about an infinity scarf (also known as a hidden pocket scarf).
When I travel, I need to have my basics on me at all times. That includes my passport, because you should never be without your ID in a foreign country; my hotel room key; some cash; a card or two; and my iPhone. (This one is essential because that's what I use to take all my photographs.)
But sometimes, I need to dress up and even the best purse won't do: an evening reception, for example, or a crowded buffet dinner where it's not safe to leave your bag on your chair.
My only option would be to keep things in my hands... and that just won't do.
This little fashion accessory makes it so much easier!
Normally when I try something out I have a list of why I like the item, and an equally long list of why I don't. I'm afraid this is one with a whole lot more pros than cons!
✅ Attractive, and can really dress up an outfit
✅ Great for urban situations
✅ Often use relatively heavy fabrics, great for hiding contents
✅ Worn over your clothes so no digging around
✅ Useful if you need regular passport access
✅ Hands-free so you can take photos without having to clutch anything else
✅ Get a print - they don't show stains
✅ Can turn a boring wardrobe into something stylish
And now the cons...
❌ You have to get used to the extra weight around your neck
❌ Can feel a bit awkward until you're used to it
We all have our favorites and I believe in quality. Any item I wear regularly has to withstand the packing and unpacking, the regular washing and the stuffing with umpteen travel necessities.
I can recommend these two best scarf models.
For years I've advised women to wear money belts when they travel. Belts are flat, invisible when worn under your clothing, and the perfect deterrent to pickpockets. I backpacked across Africa, Asia and Latin America using a hidden money belt.
And I stand by that advice.
Except... if you need to dress up and go out, imagine wearing a dress and having to dig around to find some cash... no, right?
When I first decided to try my Sholdit out, I wore it two full days in Geneva, Switzerland, and my friend Caroline (top photo) wore it out in Annecy, France. She also asked her daughter Camille (left) to test it.
Here's what happened.
I stuffed it with my TWO passports (France and Canada), my international vaccination certificate, my train pass, some loose change, my driver's licence, all my credit cards and my (large) iPhone. Caroline did more or less the same.
I kept taking things out and putting them back in; wrapping the scarf in different ways; scrunching it; dropping it (not on purpose) and pretty much abusing it in any way I could.
I was thrilled with this little invention. Basically, it's a purse that masquerades as a double-sided scarf, with a zipper that opens into a pocket where you can keep your money and your papers. It's so simple it's the kind of thing you wish you'd thought of yourself.
The ingeniousness of this travel money pouch lies in its very simplicity: few thieves or pickpockets are going to slice your scarf off, are they? They'll look for your bag or backpack or external money belt. But a scarf? Not unless the thief is a fashionista.
After having had my passport stolen in Beijing (because I stupidly carried it inside my pack!) I'm extra careful about how I protect my important papers. Getting a replacement is a memory I'd rather leave behind...
And of course, this is a staple item on my travel packing list!