For a long time, towels were high on my list of too bulky for travel. But sometimes, I regretted not having my own. Read on to find out how I determine for each of my trips: Should I pack a towel?

How do I know if I’ll need a towel on a trip?

Do you know where you’re staying?

If you’re staying with friends or family, a hotel, or an AirBnB, it’s pretty safe to assume you’ll be provided with bath essentials. Don’t bother bringing one.

If you think you’ll visit a gym outside of a hotel, check in advance if they offer gear rental on location.

If you don’t know if you’ll have one, what is the likelihood you can buy one when you arrive?

When I studied abroad in Paris, I stayed in a dorm for six weeks. Once there, I bought one towel, one plate, one cup, a pan, and a set of cutlery. Upon leaving, I gave it to the next student. There are many more exciting things you can use that suitcase space for. Buy one upon arrival. This is also a tip I share in my blog post: Travel Lighter by Asking Yourself These 4 Questions.

When should you pack your own towel?

Are you camping, backpacking across Europe, staying in random hostels, making impromptu stops at the ocean or by lakes? You might want to have everything you need with you. I recommend getting an ultra-light and quick-dry towel. If you have a bit more space, another option is to bring one that can double as a small picnic blanket on the beach.

A few recommendations:

Anaskela reversible towel, $58 USD

These Anaskela towels are made to last, which is why they are a little pricier. They dry quickly but are substantial enough to use as a small picnic blanket.

Turkish towels, $10-$40


Turkish towels are lightweight and quick-dry cotton towels. They are extremely versatile as a headscarf, sarong, beach blanket, or shawl.

Microfiber or “yoga towels”, $15-$45

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Microfiber towels are made of soft polyester and nylon microfiber, with an antimicrobial treatment to reduce odour retention. They dry very quickly and are extremely resistant. Great if you’re going to be working out or in the water a lot. I own a few of these because they are also great to dry your hair!

Looking for more tips on packing for the gym? I have a blog post on fitness gear you can pack in your suitcase.