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What is a Travel Towel?

Colored cotton travel towels.
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  • Written By: Erika Peterson
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2014
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Travel towels are thin, compact towels which fold neatly into the size of a dinner napkin. They are a practical way to take towels along on vacations, trips to the beach, camping trips or business travels. A travel towel is a towel without the bulk of a regular sized towel. Travel towels are made of super-absorbent materials that are quick-drying and often infused with antibacterial fibers to prevent bacterial growth in between washings.

A travel towel is typically made of a microfiber, but other common materials include: nylon, polyester or viscose rayon. Microfiber towels are soft, but the material is sometimes an irritant to sensitive skin, especially dry skin. A travel towel does not slide across the skin like a regular terry cloth towel does, and some people do not like to use travel towels for this reason.

Like most products, the cost of a travel towel will depend on its size and the material it is made from. Quality microfiber, antibacterial nylon and polyester towels are some of the most expensive types of travel towels. Viscose rayon is less expensive; however, it will usually need to be softened in a washing machine for two or three cycles.

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A travel towel can be washable or disposable. A disposable travel towel is extra thin, biodegradable, and compact enough to take up little space in a backpack or carry-on travel bag. These types of towels can only be used a few times, and they need to be hand washed or placed in a mesh bag in the delicate cycle of a washing machine. Many brands of travel towels are accompanied by their own small mesh bag.

Smaller travel towels usually have multiple uses. The absorbent materials make them ideal for household use. The extra thin disposable towels can even double as coffee filters or window cleaners. On the other hand, extra large travel towels can be worn as a sarong for a lightweight covering when hanging out on the beach or by the pool. Travel towels with a pocket are also available for storing keys, a wallet, or a cell phone while at the gym or pool.

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Discuss this Article

summing
Post 5

I have a microfiber travel towel that has been great for me. It is super absorbent and also dries quickly so I can use it right before I pack and not worry about it making the rest of my stuff damp.

nextcorrea
Post 4

I am going to Florida with my kids and husband this summer and I have a dilemma. I realized last week that if I pack beach towels for all of us it will take up almost its own suitcase. The airlines charge for extra bags when you fly now so I want to avoid taking any luggage we don't need.

Does anyone know of a travel beach towel? Or better yet, do you think we can rent towels or buy them cheaply once we are down in Florida? I am open to just about any idea as long as it does not involve packing a bag full of towels.

chivebasil
Post 3

I think the single best piece of travel advice is to always pack a towel. I have a small travel towel that is more like a shammy that I take with me on every trip. Most of the places I stay have towels and I really don't end up using it that often but there have been occasions. Basically, it is really frustrating to want or need a towel and not have one. Be prepared and pack your own.

anon163876
Post 2

The best travel towels out there are the Discovery Trekking towels. It has silver in it and doesn't get stinky. It dries really fast and is super light weight.

anon114788
Post 1

The best quality travel towel I have ever used is Adventure Towl. The fabric is unbelievable. I use their Deluxe Travel Towel for traveling and the new Sport towel for the gym, and Biking/kayaking. They come in a really cool breathable travel bag and dry ultra fast. I'm hooked!

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