It’s a problem I’ve been writing about since I started this blog: Travelers with pet dogs are typically limited by airlines to a pet carrier and a small personal item (or, more rarely, to a pet carrier and a carry-on), and once you’ve stowed your pet under your seat, there’s typically no room next to her for anything else — so either you spend your flight, especially a turbulent flight, looking hopelessly up at the overhead compartment or you come up with some way to keep your book, your water bottle, your stuff, accessible. In the past, I’ve recommended a travel vest — most recently, the SCOTTeVEST travel vest — which remains a splendid idea, but I’m starting to question a solution that shines during plane trips but otherwise takes up valuable suitcase space.
If you’re going on safari, or you’re traveling to a place where it makes sense to keep your valuables concealed around your torso, stick with the SCOTTeVEST. You’ll use it throughout your trip, and it’s designed to keep a variety of objects comfortably within reach. If not, give some thought to the SHOLDIT travel scarf, which started as an impulse purchase (I cannot resist travel gear of any kind) but has become my go-to travel accessory.
The SHOLDIT scarf (the maker refers to it as a “Clutch Wrap purse,” but to me it seems useless as a clutch, and I just can’t with the “shrug” option) is essentially two layers of fabric, sewn together at the edges and seamed to form a continuous loop. There is a large pocket behind one stretch of side seam, and another smaller one (in the “ORIGINAL design,” which is the model I recommend) behind the short, joining seam.
Both pockets are made of a very flexible knit material, as is the scarf, and in a pinch you can fit really a heck of a lot of stuff in them. I typically put my cell phone, a pack of gum, Advil, hand lotion, a power bar, a nail file, a pen, and a measuring tape in the small pocket. The large pocket holds my Kindle and a small Ziploc bag of Chloe’s kibble, and sometimes a water bottle. I believe my neck pillow would also fit in there, but I haven’t yet taken the scarf on a flight where I planned to sleep.
None of that is what the SHOLDIT folks want to hear. In their FAQ section, they implore you to cut back: “The Clutch Wrap™ purse is NOT intended to carry everything that I needlessly haul in my traditional hand bag or tote. I am not a pack mule. For best results, I solemnly swear to keep items small and limited.”
It’s not hard to understand why. When I’ve loaded up the scarf with all the gear I might want during a flight, it looks less like a chic scarf than a baby sling, complete with baby. I started out looping the scarf twice around my neck, but the infinity scarf look worked only temporarily:
I’ve decided that when the scarf is full of gear, it works best draped over one shoulder like a beauty pageant sash:
Once you get to your destination and re-stow your crucial belongings in your travel purse or messenger bag, the SHOLDIT scarf returns to working well as a scarf, which is nearly always useful — and recall that this is a scarf that can discreetly conceal your passport or other small, light valuables. If you just don’t need a scarf at all, the SHOLDIT still occupies less suitcase room than a travel vest.
I bought the “ORIGINAL design” scarf in the “titanium” option — textured gray on one side, black on the other. It also comes in marine blue, plum, “torn red,” and black.
Amazon link: SHOLDIT Clutch Wrap Purse