Why a Towel (& Towel Day) is So Important


It would be in your best interest to carry a towel with you today, for today, is Towel Day.

I’ll ‘splain…

Last week, I went on a rather ambitious bicycling excursion, and somehow in the course of packing, I nearly forgot to bring along what is perhaps the most versatile object in a traveller’s inventory.

I am, of course, referring to the common bath towel. And coincidentally enough, today is international Towel Day, a day of great celebration and happiness.

Pertinent Questions

  1. Why is a towel so important?
  2. Did my towel help me on my bicycling excursion?
  3. And just what is Towel Day anyway?

And the brief answers to those questions are:

  1. I’m about to tell you.
  2. Yes, yes, YES!
  3. A day of profound importance… and remembrance.

1. Why a Towel is So Important

To best answer this question regarding the greatness of a towels, especially while travelling, I refer you to this explanation by renowned author Douglas Adams:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

~ Douglas Adams
(Chapter 3 of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

Basically, a towel is an incredibly versatile tool in a traveller’s arsenal. And although most travellers are not interstellar hitchhikers and probably won’t visit Santraginus V, sail a miniraft with a towel, or battle with it in hand-to-hand combat, Douglas has a valuable point. A towel can double as a blanket, a makeshift gas mask when wet, a signaling device, and even a pillow cover.

2. Did my towel help me on my bicycling excursion?

Yes! More than once.

It turned out that it was a pretty stupid idea to bike with an even a slightly weighty backpack on my back, and I moved most of the weight to the pack on the bike rack behind me. This transfer of weight included my laptop, and I noticed that the laptop could use some extra padding from bumps in the road. In this case, the towel worked quite well, and I used it in the same way on the return trip.

Then that night, my friend didn’t have any extra pillow cases, and the towel came through again. In a pinch, towels are extremely versatile and helpful. Although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend carrying a full-sized bath towel around in your luggage if you’re travelling light, I would recommend a hand towel or something smaller because of how versatile and useful it is.

3. Just what is Towel Day anyway?

When Douglas Adams passed away in 2001, it was proposed that Douglas and his work be remembered on May 25th of each year. On this day each year, fans of Douglas are encouraged to carry a towel with them today in tribute to his work and as an ever-present reminder of the greatness of towels.

Why not keep a towel close at hand to commemorate the day? You never know when you might need it. As Douglas once wisely wrote:

“…any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.”
~ Douglas Adams

Do you know where your towel is?





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  1. Pingback Towel Day 2010 – Handduksdagen – Tribute till Douglas Adams « Emil Isberg