I always travel with at least a couple of bandanas, of various sizes because, well they are just so darn useful, and they come in so many fun patterns, that they’re hard to resist. And so, as is often the case, I brainstormed this list of handy uses for bandanas while on a long, and otherwise boring flight.
I didn’t realize just how popular this subject was until I googled it…But I think I have the best list!

Here are my favorite uses for a bandana

1. Worn on the head; tied around your chin, or back of the neck, as a skullcap or disco-style headband.

2. Cover your eyes when you’re trying to get some shut-eye when en route.
3. Cover your eyes as emergency sunglasses to prevent sun blindness in the snow or blindingly bright beach.
4. Cover your mouth and nose to protect from dust, smoke, pollen and sandstorms.
5. Stuff one to make an impromptu pillow.

6. Use as a cooling neck gaiter, by wetting or even wrapping a few ice cubes in before tying around your neck. Can also tie around your wrist to cool, since lots of shallow blood vessels.
7. Wear as a decorative neck choker ala Tea Leoni in The Naked Truth.
8. As an artist, I use it to clean my watercolor brushes.
9. Swat flies and other bothersome insects (oh, but not wasps, they will only get MORE aggressive!
10. Tie items together for neatness.
11. As a napkin, plate or mini tablecloth when you’re dining al fresco.


12. Wrap your French bread and cheese in.
13. As an emergency tea or coffee filter.
14. Cover your equipment, like cameras, cell phones, to protect from the sun, dust, etc.
15. Cover a baby’s face to protect from the elements. Other kid uses include as a baby bib or emergency diaper.
16. Flag down a taxi in city or rescuers in an emergency (helps to have a brightly colored bandana).
17. As a pocket to put small items in and tie to your belt.
18. As a belt (if you’re small-waisted, or you can tie several together. You can discreetly hide money in this belt as well.
19. As a piece of paper to write a note (best used with a Sharpie).
20. Tie on your luggage as a unique identifier.

21. Wipe your food, like the skin of fresh fruit and veggies, before eating.
22. To reduce puffy eyes by wetting and wrapping chamomile tea bags in then placing over your eyes.
23. As a washcloth.
24. Put over a bright lampshade (just don’t forget it and make it a fire hazard!)
25. An emergency fuel for a fire (though you’ll also need to have matches and a fuel source like gasoline).
26. Avoid sunburn on the back of your neck by putting it under your hat.
27. Cover food on a picnic when the wind picks up.
28. An emergency feminine sanitary pad, or toilet paper when you have the trots.
29. Tie around your hat on an ocean voyage, when strong winds threaten to give your favorite hat to the fishes.
30. To blow your nose or cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing (only polite!)
31. Wrap around feet in an emergency when caught barefoot on hot pavement or sand.
32. Patch a hole in clothes (you’ll also need a basic sewing kit).
33.As a cleanser for your eyeglasses, binoculars, tablet screen.

34. Unique identifier for your campsite at a music concert, or another public event so people can find you.
35. Bring extra bandanas as gifts for kids you meet.
36. As a dog collar (for your own dog, or if you find a stray that needs rescuing!).
37. As a towel to clean or dry yourself.
38. To pre-screen a water source to help prevent clogging your water filter.
39. As a mini blanket to protect your bum when sitting on questionable surfaces.
40. As a shoe shiner.

41. Trail marker at a junction.
42. Glove, when surfaces are hot (camp stove kettle) or dirty bathroom (Turkish toilet or alpine outhouse).
43. Tie around a rock, attach a rope to sling over a high tree limb for securing your food from varmints.
44. Nature treasure holder, as in for carrying a pretty shell, beautiful insect or colorful seeds.
45. Tie your water bottle to your pack or belt.

46. Wipe a dirty table/surface before or after using it.
47. First Aid Uses! Last, but certainly not least, perhaps the most important reason to carry one or more bandanas is for their uses in emergency first aid situations. Such as using a bandana as a pressure bandage, a tourniquet, a cold compress when filled with ice or snow, to dress a wound, as a bandage, as a sling to stabilize an injured joint or to hold a splint in place.These situations are where larger sized bandanas come in handy. Also, use to hold a dislodged tooth or (God forbid) a finger end! An effective eye patch can be made by folding one bandana up into a square to place over your eye, and tying a second one around your head to hold the first in place.

So, there you have it. I hope this list has inspired you to pack at least a couple bandanas on your next adventure. And, do tell, which of these uses have you tried before? Do you have ones I’ve forgotten? Let me know in the comments below!

Enjoy this story?

You might enjoy my reading How I Pack and Plan for Adventure that includes a comprehensive packing list for your next adventure across the state or across the globe!

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