A travel wrap is a great versatile travel garment that can often be used as a shawl, a scarf, and a travel blanket. Travel wraps are also often lightweight and compact enough to fold up and store in a purse or backpack.
A travel wrap can keep you warm on a chilly airplane or be used as travel blanket on a long bus ride. It can cover your shoulders when entering churches, dress up a plain outfit for an evening out, and add an extra layer of warmth as you watch the sunset from a beach.
We’ll share what to look for when buying a travel wrap from recommended best fabrics to considering the versatility and practicality of the item. Then we review a number of different travel wraps that are sure to fit any budget or style.
8 Things to Consider When Buying a Travel Wrap
I purchased my first travel wrap several years ago now, and the one pictured in most of the photos is from Secret Sweater, a former California based company. Sadly this product is no longer available but there are lots of similar products out there!
I found the Secret Sweater travel shawl to be a great thing to have at the airport waiting in lines and sitting around. It was great in the airplane as I am often cold and not all flights provide blankets.
Laurence loves to shoot photos at sunset which generally means I sit outside with him during some chilly evenings and the travel shawl has been fabulous for these situations. Most of the photos in this post were taken at Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, California.
But it was also great for indoor locations like cold offices and air-conditioned museums. It is also great when going into religious sites in the summer and needing to be sure to have shoulders and arms covered.
Another one of the nice things about this shawl is how stylish it looks compared to just throwing on a sweatshirt or old cardigan. So I’d definitely recommend one as a travel accessory for women!
Travel wraps can be a wonderful travel accessory but they are not all the same. So here are 8 things to consider before purchasing a travel wrap or travel shawl.
The best thing about travel wraps is their versatility. They can be worn in a number of ways and can often top a number of different outfits from casual to more dressy.
Consider how you would be able to wear the travel wrap. Many travel wraps you can wear as a scarf, shrug, or shawl. Some you can also use as a travel blanket to keep you warm on plane and bus rides.
Perhaps you want to be able to pin it around your shoulders to wear like a poncho. Or maybe you want to use it as a sarong, headscarf, or sari.
Think about what you want to use a travel wrap for most and if each product can be used in that manner. Items that come with sleeves, pockets, or armholes are generally going to have less versatility.
Note that a travel shawl may replace a sweater or cardigan but it is not intended to take the place of an actual coat, and they often won’t fit well under or on top of a coat or jacket unless you can wear it as a scarf. Travel wraps are also not great if you plan to be very active as they tend to slip off unless you get one with armholes or sleeves.
Size / Dimensions of the Travel Wrap
In relation to versatility above, be sure to consider the size and dimensions of the travel wrap. For example, if you want to be able to use it as a travel blanket, you’ll probably want something at least 60 inches (5 feet) in length or longer and fairly wide.
But on the other hand, if you want to be able to use it as a scarf, something that is 90 inches long and 40 inches across may be too bulky to easily wear around your neck.
Note that for precious fabrics like cashmere, the prices will generally rise along with the dimensions of the garment.
Design of the Travel Wrap
Many travel wraps are essentially wide scarfs with no structure or armholes. But many are cut or tapered to fit a certain way which may affect its fit and versatility.
Some also have armholes or sleeves and some have pockets. Some also have decorative elements such as tassels, embroidery, and sequins.
Travel Wrap Fabric
The material of the travel wrap is important to take into account. As the fabric will often determine the price, durability, and washability of the garment. It is also important to note that some fabrics wrinkle more easily than others and some wick away or resist moisture better than others.
Here are six common fabrics that may be used to make travel wraps:
- Acrylic – This is a material made of synthetic fibers. It is generally soft, warm, wrinkle-resistant, and durable. It is often made to feel like wool. It is inexpensive and may be mixed with natural materials. Materials made from acrylic fibers can often be machine washed.
- Cotton – A natural fiber that is the most widely used natural fiber in the manufacturing of clothing in the world. It is durable, inexpensive, and soft, although it tends to lose its softness over time and thinner cotton fabrics can wrinkle rather easily. Because of its tendency to wrinkle and that it absorbs and holds moisture, it is not an ideal fabric for a travel wrap unless it is blended with another material or fairly thick. Usually machine washable.
- Rayon – Rayon is made of a semi-synthetic manufactured fiber produced from regenerated cellulose fiber (generally wood pulp). It often mimics the feel and texture of fabrics like wool or silk. It wicks away moisture better than cotton but may wrinkle easily (depends on type of rayon). Rayon travel wraps are normally priced at the mid-point. Rayon is produced in different ways and sold under different names such as viscose and MicroModal. Usually machine washable.
- Wool – Wool is a natural fiber made from the wool of sheep (and sometimes other animals). It is warm, durable, and wicks moisture well. It can wrinkle but is more wrinkle-resistant (especially if a thicker wool) than cotton, silk, rayon, and linen. Pricing is generally at the mid-point but depends on the type of wool as finer wools will fall at premium price points. Some people may find coarser wool products itchy or irritating. Types of wool are sometimes labeled by the type of wool used such as merino, cashmere, or pashmina. Usually hand wash only.
- Cashmere – Cashmere is a fine and delicate type of wool. This is generally the most expensive type of material used to produce travel wraps. One of the most expensive types of cashmere is pashmina. Needs to be handled more delicately than most other fabrics as can tear easily. Hand wash only.
- Silk – Silk is a natural protein fiber and is well-known as a soft and luxurious fabric. Can hold bright colors and feels smooth on the skin. However, it wrinkles and stains easily and can stretch and shrink when wet. Not practical fabric for a travel wrap; however, you may see travel wraps with silk blends such as a blend of wool and silk. Usually dry clean only.
We would recommend looking for travel wraps made of acrylic, rayon, or wool as they tend to be more practical fabrics for travel wraps than others. Cotton can also work if it is blended or a thicker knit, but not recommended for wet or tropical destinations.
Travel wraps fall in a number of price points, from budget to premium. Travel wraps can range from about USD $15.00 to over USD $1,000.00, with most falling in the $40 to $200 range. More expensive products are generally made of more premium materials like cashmere.
Be sure to read the cleaning care label on a travel wrap. Some materials like wool and cashmere are more delicate and need to be hand washed to prevent damage. Some items may be dry clean only.
If you plan to do laundry while traveling, you can easily hand wash items in the sink or tub as you go.
If you plan to only machine wash your clothes, you may want to look at acrylic, rayon, and cotton options which are more likely to be machine washable.
Country of Origin
Travel wraps are made in countries around the world with many being produced in China since it is cheap to manufacture textiles there. If you are concerned about quality control, sustainability, or carbon footprint, you may want to pay attention to the country of origin and from where it is being shipped.
Be cautious about any products that do not list their country of origin on the tag. Many countries, such as the United States, require country of origin tags on clothing.
Also be wary of cheap products that are listed as coming from a country with a high cost of labor. For example, we spotted a travel wrap with a glued on label stating it was made from 100% Scottish cashmere on Amazon that looked like it was neither cashmere nor made in Scotland. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Practicality is perhaps the most important thing to think about when making a purchase of a travel wrap, or any other garment. This takes into account most of the other things we’ve already discussed.
Some questions to consider:
Will you actually wear it? Will you carry it around on your travels? How much space does it take up in your luggage? How versatile is it? Does it go well with the travel clothing you already own? Do you mind if it gets wrinkly? How will you wash it?
10 Travel Wraps & Shawls for Women
Below is our list of 10 different travel wraps of various styles and at different price points. All can be purchased online.
These 10 travel wraps are listed in order of price, from lowest to highest.
This is a soft and pretty versatile warp at a budget price. It is very versatile and can be used as a scarf or shawl.
The wrap measures 76 inches X 27 inches, and has tassels along the edges. It comes in about 20 colors.
It is made in China of a blend of acrylic, wool, and cashmere. Given the price, expect it to be mostly acrylic. Hand wash only.
Price: ~ USD $15.99
These jacquard wraps are warm and cozy, and can be thrown over almost any outfit. Can be worn as a shawl or cape or used as a travel blanket.
These wraps are 100% acrylic and some styles have tassels at the edges and some don’t. Hand wash only.
Price: ~ USD $29.00
Dana Xu’s wool wraps are known for their rich vibrant colors and patterns, and are great for travelers wanting to make a statement. These colorful wraps can be used as scarf, shawl, or blanket.
Price: ~ USD $36.99
These stylish and elegant Melifluos wraps are a perfect accessory cover your shoulders for a little extra warmth or to dress up an evening outfit. Designed in Spain, these wraps can be used as a shawl, scarf, or blanket.
The wraps are designed in Spain and made in China. They are 48 inches X 48 inches and are made of 100% bamboo viscose (rayon). Hand wash or delicate machine wash.
Price: ~ USD $45.00
The TravelLuxe Wayfarer Travel Wrap is 68 inches X 35 inches. It is versatile and can be used as a travel scarf, wrap, blanket, or shawl.
A unique feature of this wrap is that it has a discreet built-in pocket to store a standard size hand warmer (included) to help keep you warm on chilly days. Very handy for cold airplanes and chilly evenings outside.
It is made of 95% MicroModal (rayon) and 5% Spandex. It is machine washable, but wash on the delicate cycle.
Price: ~ USD $46.00
If you are thinking about a poncho instead of a wrap, this Caroline Grace poncho may be for you. Soft and comfortable with decorative tassels at the hem, this can be a great fun and versatile travel piece.
The poncho is made of 95% cotton and 5% Mongolian cashmere. It is 2 ply and 20 inches in width in front and hip length in back. Available in wide array of colors. Hand wash recommended.
Price: ~ USD 89.00
Barefoot Dreams specializes in creating soft and comfy clothing and has several wraps, ponchos, and shawls that are perfect for travel. There are several designs to choose from with some of the shawls coming with sleeves and/or pockets.
The majority of the travel shawls are made of 80% nylon and 20% rayon from bamboo. Machine washable on delicate cycle.
Price: ~ USD $80.00 – $130.00
If you are looking for a more luxurious wrap, consider something in cashmere. This pure cashmere wrap from Italy is soft and versatile. This great travel wrap can be used as a shawl, blanket, or oversized scarf.
The wrap measures 80 inches by 23 inches and is made of 100% cashmere. Comes in an array of colors. Hand wash only.
As with any cashmere product, it can tear easily so handle with care. It will need to be hand washed to be cleaned.
Price: ~ USD $134.00
This luxurious cashmere wrap by White + Warren is large at 81 inches X 36 inches. It is soft and versatile, and can be used as a travel scarf, wrap, blanket, or shawl.
It is made of 100% cashmere in 7 gauge knit and is 2 ply. Comes in a wide array of colors from basic neutrals to bright purple. Delicate fabric; hand wash only.
Price: ~ USD $298.00
If you aren’t too concerned about price, you could upgrade to a pashmina travel wrap. Pashmina is a very fine cashmere that comes from Asian mountain goats and is one of the most sought after fabrics in the world.
The Exotic India pashminas are handwoven in Indian and most styles are embroidered with elaborate patterns. Can be worn as a scarf, wrap, shawl, or used as a travel blanket.
These shawls are made from 100% pashmina in India and are handwoven. They vary a bit in size but most are around 72 inches by 42 inches.
Price: ~ USD $300 to $3,000
**You can also see all the travel wraps and shawls we recommend above in a single page on Amazon here with current prices for a handy reference.**
So that is our list of travel wraps and travel shawls! Which is your favorite?
Planning to purchase a travel wrap or shawl in the near future, but not now? Pin this article to Pinterest to read later:
What do you think about travel wraps and travel shawls? Do you own one? Is it a travel accessory on your wish list?