Friday, April 23, 2021

Shopping Locally for Travel Gifts

Keep in Touch in Shops of Marco carries a variety of travel accessories. photoS BY VICKIE KELBER

Keep in Touch in Shops of Marco carries a variety of travel accessories. photoS BY VICKIE KELBER

Vickie Kelber

It’s no secret that I like to shop. My husband refers to a day filled with shopping as a “Vickie Day”. He never accompanies me on a “Vickie Day”. Although I do my share of internet shopping for difficult to find items, I prefer local “brick and mortar” shops and particularly appreciate that we have a number of goods and services available right here on Marco Island; that was one factor in choosing Marco as our home.

For this year’s column on gifts for the traveler, I decided to explore some of what the Island has to offer and found many items that would make nice gifts for family, friends, or one’s self!

I love gadgets so I started at Ace Hardware on East Elkcam Circle. Through the years, I have always found the staff at my local Ace friendly and helpful in directing me to exactly what I need. A very knowledgable salesman guided me on my gift shopping quest. The first useful gadgets we found were items to help deal with the differences in electricity and outlets encountered when traveling. They have a range of choices from single plug adaptors to full converter sets with different types of adaptors for every location in the world, as well as a stand alone transformer.

I never travel without a small flashlight and Ace has a variety of lightweight LED ones. They come in a variety of styles and colors and some are “superlights” with extra bright beams. Next to some of the flashlight options in the store is a lighted magnifying glass that would certainly come in handy when traveling.

A friend recently emailed me in a panic while traveling in Europe. A ballpoint pen had leaked all over her backpack and onto some clothing; she asked for suggestions to remove the stains. Too bad she hadn’t packed the spray stain remover that is available at Ace.

Pack a garment steamer to freshen up clothes while traveling.

Pack a garment steamer to freshen up clothes while traveling.

A heavy duty cleaning product, it comes in a 2 oz. bottle so it can even be carried onto the plane. I think I’m going to buy some not only for traveling, but also to keep in the car. Look for it near the checkout.

I don’t think I’ve ever gone anywhere where there wasn’t some rain at some time. Even a trip to the Canary Islands in dry season saw “record breaking” (isn’t it always?) torrential rain. Ace offers full vinyl rain suits and ponchos that are lightweight but substantial. They are the kind you can use more than once, not the flimsy plastic ones that tear almost immediately after removing from the packaging.

I also found travel size tubes of sunscreen and mini Cutters bug spray that you could easily pop into a purse or back pack. Even better might be the Off clip on mosquito protectors and refills. Take along the compact size of After Bite instant relief for bug bites and you are all set for the outdoors or canals of Venice!

Ace offers a variety of travel size first aid kits and even ear buds that you can take along that are much better than those the airlines provide. Consider a gift of two way radios to communicate when traveling. I know lots of families who use them when going to Disney World or out West skiing and other people who use them abroad so they don’t have to contend with the high roaming charges involved with cell phones.

My final find at Ace was a Travel Smart garment steamer to use for freshening up clothes while traveling. The box also claims it can be used to kill dust mites and bed bugs!

I saw an ad in the Coastal Breeze for Keep In Touch which mentioned that they carry travel accessories. Keep In Touch is that cute store in the Shops of Marco that has a

Worldwide converter/adaptor kit available at Ace Hardware, Elkcam Circle.

Worldwide converter/adaptor kit available at Ace Hardware, Elkcam Circle.

small post office in the back. What great treasures I found there for gift shopping. They carry a variety of Travelon products that help make travel easier.

There is a medication travel organizer in which you can organize all your pills within a smart travel case that can be slipped into purse or carryon. A jewelry roll has different sized mesh pockets to help keep jewelry organized and prevents items getting caught up in one another. The fact that it then rolls up for packing makes it compact and easy to place in the corner or side of a suitcase. A substantial zippered ladies wallet would be perfect for foreign currency which is often larger than US bills.

I have written before about RFID technology. Passports and many credit cards now come with radio frequency chips. RFID wallets and protective sleeves guard against “electronic pickpocketing”, someone using an electronic device to steal the information from these chips. Keep in Touch carries a variety of these products. There are small cash/card sleeves that easily slip into a larger wallet or security pouch, passport cases, and a money clip/wallet. No matter what style wallet one prefers, they carry it. There is an RFID billfold, trifold, and front pocket style.

My favorite RFID item, though, was the “Boarding Pouch”. If you or someone to whom you want to give a gift doesn’t have one, run and buy it. It is a pouch that fits over the neck and in which you can keep your passport or other ID, tickets, boarding passes, money, credit cards. This helps keep you “hands free” in the airport and speed your journey as you don’t have to reach into your pocket or pocket book to find all these items; they are readily available. The Boarding Pouch I found at Keep in Touch has a couple of different pockets for organization.

There also was a clear view waterproof pouch for

Beyond a Bags are multipurpose; all of them unzip from a pocket book or tote into something else.

Beyond a Bags are multipurpose; all of them unzip from a pocket book or tote into something else.

keeping a smart phone or small camera dry in wet conditions. A foam insert allows the pouch to float on the surface should it ever be accidentally dropped into water. Another find was a “toiletry notebook”, a zippered mesh pocket with removable waterproof bags to keep cosmetic items neat and dry.

Keep in Touch also carries an extensive line of Beyond a Bag products, expandable pocket books and bags that can serve a variety of purposes. Lightweight and easy to clean, they come in various styles and colors. All of them have zippers that when opened convert the bag into something else. One pocket book which can be used as a shoulder or cross body bag can convert into a fanny pack or duffel bag. Another one unzips into a back pack; unzip it more and it is a pet carrier for use with pets up to 10” in height and 25 pounds.

Buy one of the many colorful luggage tags available at Keep in Touch and you’ll be sure to identify your bag as it goes around the carousel in baggage claim. Notebooks, journals, and playing cards are other options for gifts and the store stocks a variety of jigsaw puzzles, something you might want to consider for someone making a trip to someplace where they might be stuck inside by foul weather.

Even if you don’t travel beyond Marco Island, Keep in Touch has something for you. Surrounded by water here on Marco, the Life Hammer is an item we all should have in our cars. It is a small tool that can be used in an emergency as a seat belt cutter and to break a car window should the unthinkable happen and your car ends up in water. A great gift for anyone.

In just two stops in local stores, I found a plethora of wonderful items for travel…..more than enough to fill a wish list, Speaking of Travel column, and my suitcase!

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