For my first job I worked in a now-defunct department store in Croydon in the linens department, selling everything from duvet covers to flannels to pillows. This stint as a sales assistant taught me three important things: 1) I don't like working in retail, 2) I don't like Croydon, and 3) there is a lot of variation in towels.
When I travelled through Slovenia and Croatia the other year, a couple of the girls had those microfibre travel towel things - you know the ones that feel a bit like a glasses cleaning cloth but supposedly dry quickly? You may have gathered from that sentence that I am quite biased towards the more traditional towel, but times are a-changing and as I am in the midst of a quarter-life crisis I think it's time to take a towelling plunge.
What is a travel towel?
Travel towels are compact, highly absorbent, lightweight and they dry quickly. Really, they're ideal for travelling. They come in a few sizes from small to giant and are generally made of one of two materials: microfibre or soft fibre. Both of these materials are similar in terms of what they're made from but they have two different feels. Microfibre feels more like a normal towel, whilst soft fibre feels more velvety.
Travel towel or regular towel?
I'm always surprised at just how much space regular towels take up when packing. For some reason I think they'll take up the same space as a my socks, but lo and behold they're quite bulky items. I'm also a bit of a towel snob and so I require separate towels for washing, swimming/beaches, and always a separate hair towel. I don't travel light in the towel department. A major, major plus of travel towels is their size: they're very compact little fellas, meaning that there's plenty more room for shoes.
There's also nothing worse than unpacking a damp towel, and the smell. Oh the smell! It's on par with the wet dog smell. Vile. Anyway, as travel towels promise to dry quickly there'll be none of the gross damp towels to contend with.
One downside is the feel of the towel, however. I personally am not a fan of the velvety-feel towels. That is such a first-world-problem sentence that I don't even know how to continue.
To buy or not to buy...
Mountain Warehouse have quite an impressive range of colours and sizes, and OH MY GOD THEY'RE ON SALE NOW AND ARE RIDICULOUSLY CHEAP! SHOP, MY LITTLE BARGAIN HUNTERS, SHOP!
Kathmandu also have a fine selection, conveniently also on sale as of writing.
My beloved Millets also offer a range of travel towels, and by the looks of things they're made of actually towelling material - HURRAH!
If you're looking for dirt, dirt cheap options, try Lifeventure. Prices start from £3.50! The mind boggles.
Bringing up the rear, Cotswolds have a pricier range of travel towels. Personally I find these are slightly out of my price range but one day, one day.
My life saver and fellow calamari enthusiast - or Tasha, as she is more commonly known - is giving me her two travel towels for my impending trip, so I shall let you know how that goes. Oh, what a gripping blog post that will be!
Photos from Taba Heights, Egypt. Taken in 2008/2009.