For this year’s column on gift suggestions for the traveler, I am featuring some recent acquisitions that I have found useful.
Always trying to remain hands-free and unencumbered by a handbag, I recently started using a Sholdit. It looks like a traditional infinity scarf, but has a hidden zipper pocket to store items such as a passport, cash, credit cards, key, tickets, lipstick, glasses, phone; whatever one doesn’t want to be without. I used it daily on our most recent trip and loved it, never having to fuss with a purse. Although I purchased mine at Bed Bath & Beyond, they no longer carry it. It can be purchased online at www.sholdit.com.
In addition to being able to be worn as a single or double loop scarf, it can be worn as a side sling and also folds into itself to make a clutch. It comes in a variety of solid colors as well as a few prints. I chose basic black. Because I tended to overload it, I found that I had to strategically drape it so the filled pocket wasn’t conspicuous. Had I condensed some items, it would have been less weighty. It is sure to be something I include on my packing list of essentials.
Speakeasy Travel Supply (www.speakeasytravelsupply.com) sells a similar product. They seem to offer more designs, but I have not used their product, so I can’t speak from personal experience. Speakeasy will do custom orders.
The Sashbag is a pocketbook that also allows hands-free. Made of either lightweight fine lambskin or cloth, it is designed to be worn cross body. Called a sash bag because it kind of wraps around the body, it has ten pockets, four of them zippered. No need to carry a wallet, as it has one built-in, with slots for credit cards, cash, etc. The bag is designed so that items within it stack up the sides; the middle stays flat on the hip. It comes in a variety of colors, some are reversible (black onone side, brown on the other, for example), and others have fringe. The strap is a bit wide, but it is very comfortable and it adjusts depending upon the wearer’s height. The Sashbag is available online at www.sashbag.com. I love using mine when I go shopping.
My camera is a point and shoot. Yet, to accommodate all the features I want, such as viewfinder, decent zoom, and the ability to shoot in raw, it approaches the same size and weight as an SLR. A long day of touring or hiking can render it quite heavy and uncomfortable when worn around my neck, and wearing it cross body makes it inconvenient to grab a quick shot.
Many thanks to local photographer and nature lover, Jean Hall, (www.epicfloridaphototours.com), who introduced me to a camera/binocular harness. There are a variety of options out there. The one I chose, Op Tech, is not as bulky as others I have seen. It can be cumbersome to put on, but once on, it holds my camera very comfortably; I don’t even feel its weight. The camera easily slides up and down when I want to take photos. The straps are so thin it is unobtrusive when it is on. I did have to purchase additional Uni Loop quick disconnects to attach the camera to the harness.
Trying to further lighten my load when I am out and about for extended photo taking, I also have battery and media holsters that attach to the harness. They are snug little pockets that hold my spare battery and spare SD cards. The harness, quick disconnects and holsters are available from www.optechusa.com.
I have mentioned the Scottevest company before (www.scottevest.com). They make a line of men’s and women’s clothing that features many different pockets, in which to hold a variety of objects from small items to portable electronic devices. I have two of their jackets, a lightweight one and a heavier one, as well as a sweater. I like all three of these and use them frequently whentraveling. Recently, there has been a lot of publicity about a new company that just may become a competitor to Scottevest. Having been fully funded on Kickstarter, they feature four styles of a jacket they tout as the “world’s best travel jacket,” with 15 features, including not only tech pockets, but also a neck pillow, eye mask and gloves. It comes in four styles: hoodie sweatshirt, windbreaker, bomber and blazer. Orders only started in September, so it will be interesting to see what the future holds for these crowdsourced products.
Gift suggestions for the traveler wouldn’t be complete without mentioning some stocking stuffers. One of my favorites is a carabiner water bottle holder. I use mine a lot. I’ve attached it to pocketbooks, daypacks that didn’t have a separate water bottle pocket, even belt loops when I am out walking.
I have recently started to use Vaultz Mesh Storage Bags that come in a variety of sizes and colors, in place of travel cosmetic bags or plastic bags. I use a different color each for storing medications and first aid supplies, electronic chargers and cords, camera supplies such as battery chargers and SD cards, and cosmetics. I even use one in my pocketbook when at home to keep lipstick, comb, pen, glasses, key fob, gum…whatever I want to carry with me on a daily basis. It makes switching purses so much easier.
As you can see, the keywords in all of my suggestions this year are convenience and efficiency; lightening the load. I’d love to hear some of your ideas to achieve this. Email me at email@example.com. Happy shopping and happy travels!
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 a former board member 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.