How to choose the best hat for carry on travel
How to wear a hat
Hats are stylish - and an essential item for your Planepack travels. In the southern hemisphere, you need to protect your head, face and neck from the sharp sun. If you’re going to be walking anywhere in the summer months, you’re going to need a hat.
When I was younger, I hated wearing hats: they plastered my hair flat. I thought they were for older people only. Now that I am an older person, I realise the value of wearing a hat.
For me a hat is synonymous with holidays. Last time I was in Montenegro, I purposely left my hat behind, hanging on the hall stand. It was like throwing a coin into the Tivoli Fountains: I thought if I left my hat behind, I’d return for another visit.
As an extreme light traveller, I’m always on the lookout for the perfect carry on hat. When I find a good hat, I wear it all the time.
I adore the classic Fedora. It’s stylish, cool on the head and looks good worn with classics or contemporary fashions. I think it’s the perfect companion to a Dubrovnik cocktail! But it’s not the best hat for light travel as it is stiff and doesn’t take kindly to being packed in a bag.
If you want to take a stiff hat like this with you on board a plane, you will have to wear or carry it most of the time. I find it challenging to pack away a stiff hat as there’s never enough space in the overhead locker.
For short trips and flights, it’s possible to hold your hat on your lap - one hour flights are fine for that.
I recently saw a woman at Melbourne airport carrying her hat in a gorgeous hat box, but taking a hat box with you is not helpful if you’re trying to limit your carry on bags.
Peak caps signify tourists. Wherever you travel, there’s a souvenir peak cap - and a tourist wearing it. But peak caps are great for the sporty traveller. I’ve worn my peak cap for hiking, kayaking, parasailing, quad biking and visiting tourist sites.
Peak caps fit in anywhere: your bag, your pocket, your day bag. You can scrunch them up and they still look good when worn. But they are not the most elegant hat. I wouldn’t wear a peak cap if I wanted to dress up. Having said that, you can look glamorous with a peak cap pulled down over enormous sunglasses. I guess it depends on your individual style.
Peak caps are light, which makes them good souvenirs for yourself or a friend. I bought my peak cap at Port Arthur in Tasmania many years ago - and am still wearing it.
Soft or floppy hats are the best kind to pack in your carry on bag. My soft floppy hat folds easily into my carry on bag, and bounces back into shape when I wear it. As well as practical to pack, soft, wide-brimmed hats protect your face and neck from the biting sun.
There is a disadvantage to wearing a floppy hat: the brim blows up in the wind. I was kayaking down the Kangaroo River, and when the wind strengthened, I couldn’t stop the brim of my soft hat from flapping up. I spent four hours paddling into the wind and sun, which didn’t make me happy.
A soft, floppy hat looks equally good on the beach and at the cocktail bar. You can dress up a floppy hat seventies style by tying a scarf or a band onto it - or simply leave it as it is.
There’s a colour and style of floppy hat for everyone. Soft, floppy hats are a flattering style to wear. You’ll always look chic - and stay well protected from the harsh summer sun.
About the author
I’m Slobodanka Graham, content entrepreneur, extreme light traveller and regular wearer of hats.