SPEAKING OF TRAVEL
This time of year, in anticipation of the holidays, I usually write a column recommending gifts for the traveler. This year, I am going to highlight some of those items I like when traveling, as well as mention some popular and new travel items on the market.
For easily traversing the airport, I use a neck strap passport holder with compartments. I fill it with my passport or driver’s license, boarding passes, money, and credit card. Not only are my documents conveniently located, but I have ready access to money if I want to purchase something in the airport. Quickly storing my documents in the holder is especially appreciated when trying to balance purse, carryon, plastic bag with liquids, and shoes and jacket taken off to pass through security.
I find a carryon with dual coasters so much easier to maneuver going up plane aisles. The dual coasters spin which allows me to pull or push my carryon in any direction; guiding it up the aisle sideways is much smoother as it doesn’t tend to catch on seats as I pass. I have not used it, but there is an item called the Walkin’ Bag that is lightweight with swivel coasters that was developed by someone who survived polio. It has a lean-on handle that supports legs and backs. Some models have a built in seat that can also be used as a desk and it comes with wheels that can easily be replaced should they break.
If you don’t have a lot of space to stow away luggage when not traveling, investigate Lipault Luggage. Some of the models with wheels are made of lightweight, durable nylon that folds up for storage.
Worried about luggage becoming lost? There are “smart” luggage tags that have codes or microchips that can help find missing luggage. Check out websites such as supersmarttag.com or reboundtag.com for purchase information.
I’ve written about them before, but organizational bags for packing are wonderful. They help keep items neat and organized and protect against leaks from within or outside of your bag. Many times when I’ve arrived at a destination and my luggage came off the baggage carousel, I’ve found that it was wet, even when we had never encountered any rain in our journey. I like Space Bags that allow me to roll and squeeze out excess air thus saving room. I also like large Zip Lock bags. Travel catalogs such as TravelSmith or Magellan’s offer many types of organizational bags and cubes. Websites such as cocooninnovations.com have bags with grids that hold items in place; they are particularly handy for stowing electronic accessories or personal items.
I’ve also mentioned empty Altoid mint tins. I use them to safely hold smaller items such as SD cards for my camera, camera batteries, my iPod Shuffle, ear buds and spare contact lenses.
If having an unwrinkled shirt is important, there is a new product called the “Shirt Shuffle” that purportedly keeps a shirt neatly pressed. It is a semi rigid case with its own folding board and pads. Business travel is no longer an issue for my husband, so he has not had the opportunity to try out the Shirt Shuffle. And for me, I just try to pack clothing that doesn’t wrinkle easily, roll it, or use tissue paper or plastic bags to keep it neat.
When it becomes time for me to invest in a new laptop case, I am certainly going to buy one of the TSA checkpoint friendly ones. By using one, I hopefully (there is no guarantee) will no longer have to remove my laptop when going through security.
I don’t use a special pillow when I travel, but I often see people with a u-shaped foam or inflatable pillow. A better option might be the Travelrest Pillow, an inflatable oblong pillow which gets rave reviews from those who have used it It provides good support for the head and neck and allows the user to angle his/her body and sleep comfortably.
There are some travelers who wouldn’t be without their noise canceling headsets on a plane. We are not that fussy, but do pack our own earbuds for inflight entertainment along with a 1 to 2 adaptor necessary for the earphone sockets on some planes.
Once at a destination, there are some items I just wouldn’t be without. The first is a good travel umbrella. I have one from Totes that folds up fairly small, yet provides extra large protection and is incredibly sturdy; I have used it for years. When it finally quits on me, I am going to investigate the new supposedly wind proof travel umbrellas. The claim is they won’t turn inside out in gusty wind.
A good flashlight with rechargeable batteries is always included in my suitcase. Although I just use a small, inexpensive one, there has been a lot of publicity lately about Fenix and similar flashlights with a very bright LED light that can even be used defensively as they can temporarily disorient if shined in the eyes of an attacker.
When traveling in Europe, the paper money is a little larger than American dollars. A wallet that is big enough for foreign currency is very convenient. There has been a lot of interest lately in the possibility of “electronic pickpocketing” from credit cards and passports with radio frequency chips (RFID). Although this is not as risky as news reports try to make it, if you or the traveler in your life have an RFID card and are concerned, there are now many wallets and protective sleeves on the market that guard against this. Simply Google the words “RFID wallet” to find some.
Recently, I’ve read some reviews of shoes recommended for traveling. I’ve not used any of them, so I will just mention a few of the more popular. Made of a lightweight, perforated polymer, nativeshoes.com offer shoes and sandals that remind me a bit of some of the nicer styles offered by Crocs. Propet Travel Walkers look like mesh tennis shoes. They come in many colors, have bungee closures that can be replaced with laces, and are flexible enough to roll up for packing. Arcopedia has an update of the ballerina style shoe that offers some arch support and cushioned insoles. They also fold up for travel. I find that whatever walking shoe or sandal is most comfortable for me is the one I pack, while never using white athletic shoes outside of the United States as they scream out, “tourist.”
Finally, if you are a regular reader of this column, you know how much I love my iPad when I travel. I call it my “Swiss army knife of travel” – book, GPS, guide, trip journal, photo backup, communicator. It has become an essential travel item for me and would make a great gift for you or the traveler in your family.
Vickie is a former member of the Marco Island City Council and Artistic Director of the Marco Island Film Festival, and has been a volunteer for many island organizations. She is presently on the board of the Naples Mac Users Group. Prior to relocating to Marco, Vickie served as a school psychologist, Director of Special Services, and college instructor and also was a consultant to the New Jersey Department of Education