Clever and useful travel gadgets for sojourns to parts known (and unknown!)…and smart, welcome gift ideas for the travelers on your list.
By Ruth J. Katz
Planning a winter Caribbean get-away or a Colorado skiing weekend? Or does your gift list have some hard-to-buy-for friends who are travelers? We’ve put together a comprehensive arsenal of travel-related gizmos, gadgets, and gear for you both. And, frankly, these days, anything that makes traveling easier on the mind and body is welcome, because the airlines have made it all so complicated and grueling. Worse, carriers today charge for everything: In years past, if your suitcase were a few pounds over the limit, you could skate by. Today, however, you might be slapped with a $100 fee for that extra avoirdupois.
From TSA-compliant three-ounce bottles for carry-ons to the many plugs and USB ports for charging devices (as well as adapters and converters), there are just too many things to focus on. So, we’ve done the planning for you with a gallery of items that are clever, convenient, or both.
Show the world that you have seen the globe with this smart travel organizer and Passport Holder designed by Patricia Nash. Crafted in soft Italian leather, it features four card slots, and pockets for boarding passes and passport. $69 at Macy’s.
Lifetherapy can help set the mood of your journey, even before you set out, with its travel-size, hydrating lotion and body wash Mini Collection Set (five of each), in the company’s signature fragrances: Grounded, Energized, Inspired, Loved, and Transformed ($39).
Vera Bradley offers a variety of accessories in playful, decorative prints. The Travel Pill Case ($20), with eight interior plastic cases and a slot for directions, is available in nearly two dozen patterns. The 4 Piece Cosmetics set (was $70, on sale now for $49), will help you pack and organize expertly.
Three necessities: Adapters for international travel and recharging gadgets. From The Container Store, above left: The 5-in-1 Travel Adapter ($17.50), is nifty to look at, yes, but more importantly, it is not just a pretty face: It has a color-coded map of the world and five diverse plugs that allow you to plug in anywhere, plus two USB ports. Above right: The International Travel Adapter ($18), with four USB and USB-C ports, can be used in over 150 countries. Below left: The Slim Powerbank ($22), is a feather-light recharger-on-the-go; included with it is a micro USB cable.
Now you see them, now you don’t! Above right: Brouk & Co. makes smart cord “snaps,” crafted in vegan “leather,” to keep your charging cords tangle-free. Cord Snap 3-Pack, in a variety of colors ($32–sorry not available).
Two-timing! The Philip Stein Company, long known for its fashionable, precision-driven, dual-time-zone watches, has conquered jet lag. Its unique Sleep Bracelet (a variety of styles, from $395) looks like a watch, sans hands, and features Stein’s proprietary Natural Frequency Technology, which the company says harnesses and channels frequencies that improve sleep cycles—perfect for wearing on long flights and first nights in a new time zone. Once in a new time zone, you’ll need Stein’s signature product, a dual-time-zone watch (No longer sold on website, check Amazon). Stein makes dozens of stunning models, with easily interchangeable bands. Tell time in style and wake up refreshed—and know what time zone you are in!
Propet USA sneakers should garner an award—they are not merely washable, but foldable; take the insoles out and they pretzel in half easily. Lightweight yet supportive, they’re available in a vast palette of colors—think Pantone! Above left to right: Two of the flexible ones, TravelActiv Aero ($55), and TravelWalker EVO ($65), available at Zappos.
Hello, Sleeping Beauty! From the geniuses behind the heavenly Hästens bed comes the Hästens travel pillow, below, which is filled with 30 percent duck down and 70 percent duck feathers. You’ll sleep like an angel, even aloft at 35,000 feet. The reversible pillow features a white, ultra-soft cotton side (you unzip the perimeter to open it) and a blue-checked exterior side, in a durable virgin cotton. You can even stash valuables inside! ($170)
If only I had invented these packing cubes! Above: eBags sells dozens of styles, in diverse colors, and fabricated from different light-weight materials (from $20 to about $80 for sets). Stash T-shirts in one cube, undies in another, and “little bits” in a mini-cube. A brilliant concept that makes packing and unpacking in every hotel a breeze.
Do not leave home without weighing your luggage. Above left: Conair’s Travel Smart Compact Digital Luggage Scale will give you a read-out in kilos or pounds and beep if your suitcase is overweight. It’s so small, you can pack it and weigh your bag before the return trip, after you’ve bought half of what Rome or Jaipur offers ($18).
Above right: I never pack a suitcase without securing it with a Swissgear TSA Combination Lock, constructed from durable, cast zinc ($10.40).
JetSetter Pro from NuMe, is a kit that contains all the styling tools you will ever need for combatting frizz, straightening, curling, and drying, all in small sizes. The tools—ionic dryer, flat iron, curling wand—are equipped with dual currents to make styling-on-the-go effortless. Also included, a heat-resistant glove. Packs easily ($97.30).
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The author of five books, Ruth J. Katz is a consumer reporter and luxury lifestyles/travel writer and editor. She has been a contributing editor to several Hearst magazines and has been a regular columnist for over 20 years to many publications, including The Modern Estate, Golf Connoisseur, and New York Spaces. She was the style/travel editor of Promenade magazine for eight years and has contributed extensively to both The New York Times and New York magazine. Additionally, she was an on-air consumer reporter at FOX-TV and had her own shows on the USA and Lifetime networks. She is currently a contributing editor to Bold magazine, an upmarket travel publication, and is the features editor at New York Lifestyles magazine. She has visited 90 countries…and counting.
You may enjoy other NYCitywoman stories by Ruth Katz:
The Magical Monarch Butterflies in Mexico
Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away.
The Marvelous Museums of London
Double-Duty Space-Saving Furniture
The Best Dressmakers in New York City
Shopping for a Sofa Bed: Top Tips
NYC Top Repairers: Shoes, Leather, Fabric
Best Hand Laundries, Dry Cleaners and Fur Repair