Gift Guide 2013: Travel Items to Keep Comfy, Organized and Connected
Today’s travelers want to be comfortable, organized and connected. With those themes in mind, here are some gift ideas, starting with suggestions from three folks who travel for a living.
GOPRO AND A POWER STRIP
Brian Stacey, director of new product development for Tauck, the cruise and tour company, says his must-haves include Creative Labs noise-cancelling headphones for air travel ($60), and a GoPro camera, which he describes as "the hottest thing out there" (newest model, HERO3+ Black Edition, $400). The tiny digital camera can go underwater or "attach to pretty much anything - your helmet, arm, leg, canoe" - and take video and photos while you’re moving.
He also loves the Orvis businessman’s backpack ($150-$200). Among the things he stashes in it are a bottle protector from TravelSmith ($24) to bring home wine or olive oil without worrying about spills; and a Belkin power strip ($20). With a power strip, he can charge five gadgets with one hotel room outlet. If he’s traveling internationally, he only needs one adapter.
Polaroid and Lavender; All About the Bag
POLAROID AND LAVENDER
Harriet Lewis, vice chair of the tour company Overseas Adventure Travel, recommends the new digital Polaroid camera ($178). She can take photos of people she meets and print copies on the spot, which is a nice way to engage with locals who don’t have easy access to printed images. The 21st century Polaroid also prints multiple copies, offers a choice of borders, previews photos before printing and saves images to upload.
Lewis’ personal comfort items make great stocking stuffers: scented herbal wipes (Herban Essentials, $16), pocket hand-warmers for cold places ($2), and lavender oil ($10 in health food stores). She sprinkles lavender on bed sheets and in her bath, and rubs it on her temples and wrists. (Some travelers sprinkle it on luggage and clothing, as it’s said to repel bed bugs.)
ALL ABOUT THE BAG
Edward Piegza vowed never to check bags again after an airline lost his family’s luggage on a trip to London. Piegza, founder of the small-group luxury tour company Classic Journeys, now uses a carry-on zippered Victorinox bag ($235), which won’t tear when stuffed. For kids and teens, he recommends a High Sierra wheeled backpack with detachable daypack (AT7 model, $176). His sons have used their High Sierra bags for more than 10 years in two dozen countries.
Piegza also recommends Nike Free running shoes - lightweight, comfy and quick-drying ($100); fun, customizable luggage tags from Zazzle.com ($10); and a Gorillapod stand ($20-$30) that secures iPhones to anything "from a tree branch in a Costa Rican jungle to a cliffside terrace in Amalfi." Combined with a timer app, "you can take some great selfies in spectacular settings."
Finally, for the ladies, Piegza suggests a pashmina wrap. His wife treasures hers because it’s soft, light and easily accessorizes various outfits. It also folds up small but is big enough to serve as a blanket.
Staying Organized and Connected
Cellphone, iPod, tablet, Kindle, camera - many travelers carry them all, plus chargers and cables.
GreatUsefulStuff.com sells Kangaroomstorage bags to protect and organize gadgets. A two-sided cord pouch ($25) has 10 see-through compartments with slots you can label and removable dividers so compartments can be enlarged. The compact personal media pouch ($13) has six small pockets and can fit a Kindle or iPad Mini too.
Kohl’s carries toiletry kits for young travelers with Batman and Superman logos, and for men, a Dockers brand ($40). ToiletTree has a classy black leather kit ($20), while Flight 001 offers colorful Avery cosmetic bags with Eiffel Tower and white cross-on-red logos ($35).
For charging gadgets overseas, Flight 001 sells a compact adapter with four color-coded plugs, good for 150 countries ($25), along with a dual wattage converter ($30) to use North American appliances overseas.
To keep cellphones working on the go, give the gift of backup power, like Anker’s Astro Slim2 external battery ($33). Charge the battery beforehand, and when the phone dies, plug it into the battery. For sunny climes, consider a solar-powered charger. Popular brands include Anker, Solio and Goal Zero, but do your research. Consumer reviews suggest some don’t work as well as advertised.
Fun, Comfort and Convenience
For the traveler who wants to fill a home away from home with music, consider a small portable speaker. The NudeAudio Move M, about the size of a fat wallet, has an eight-hour battery, is Bluetooth-enabled, and has rich sound that rivals much bigger, pricier models ($70).
Travelers who want to show off where they’ve been might like Flight 001’s Scratch-Off Map ($20). A layer of gold film rubs off to reveal countries visited in blue; available in December as a scratch-off 3-D globe puzzle ($32).
For kids, here’s a freebie: Travelzoo’s "Map the World," a new iPad app with nine puzzles that teach geography.
Women can shrug off rainy days while traveling light with the hooded Rainrap ($60). Water beads off the silky fabric; it weighs under 9 ounces, drapes like a cape and is reversible, available in eight two-color combinations.
You can’t wear flip-flops in snow, but Pakems are the next best thing: lightweight, comfy, rubber-soled, water-resistant shoes that slip on after ski boots or ice skates come off. They come in five colors, high and low tops, foldable with strapped carry bag ($60-$70).
Urgent Rx: Relief On the Go
Think about how often you are in need of ’right now relief’ while on a trip. Maybe it’s that blistering headache from the flight. The local produce you are trying for the first time that’s not settling in your stomach. The new vegetation and plant life that’s got you sneezing and blowing your nose every 5 minutes. Or your sore feet from visiting all of the local tourist attractions.
UrgentRx Fast Powders are fast-acting medications that work without water and go anywhere you go. Just rip open the credit card sized package, pour the flavored powder medications directly in your mouth - no water needed. According to Urgent Rx, the flavored powder medications go into the blood stream 2.5 times faster than pills. Products are available for headaches, heart burn, allergy attacks, upset stomachs, aches and pains and critical care aspirin, which has saved lives across the U.S. because of the speed of the relief during symptoms of heart attack.
Available at retailers throughout the U.S. or online.
Associated Press Writer Calvin Woodward in Washington contributed to this story with additional content from EDGE Media Network.