From the practical to the bizarre, the clever to the dumb, and the cute to the ugly.
The annual Travel Goods Show just held in Las Vegas provided a microcosm of what’s on travelers’ minds: TSA regulations, germs, crowded seating, and baggage charges.
Our resident travel gadget guru Phil Baker reports …
PACKING GIZMOS AND GEAR
What’s a travel goods show without good luggage? High Sierra has come up with a single carry on wheeled bag to carry everything you need. It’s the NL218 Carry-On Expandable Wheeled Upright that’s ultra lightweight with a foam structure. It has a padded notebook sleeve as well as assorted compartments for shoes and accessories. $180. www.highsierrasport.com
Briggs and Riley introduced some clever new designs in computer bags including a small case for the new mini netbooks. It’s a downsized case with compartments for chargers and other accessories. ($189) Also new is an expandable briefcase with a notebook sleeve on a leash to send through checkpoints protected and tethered to the bag. ($249) www.briggs-riley.com
Who ever expected that the TSA’s 3-ounce liquid requirements would spawn an entire industry of tiny bottles and baggies? One standout was GoToob, which showcased soft, attractive, leak-proof silicon tubes to hold liquids. One model even has a built-in suction cup to stick on the shower wall. www.humangear.com
BottleWise showed a cushioned bag for packing wine in your suitcase that promises to prevent breakage. With such complex laws on shipping wine between states, packing a couple of bottles in a suitcase is often the easiest choice—and if you’ve ever had a bottle break en route, you’ll understand the need for some sturdy protection. www.bottlewise.com
Travelon showed its Bag Bungee that secures additional luggage to the top of a rolling suitcase. It works like the LugBuddy that I covered in a roundup of travel gadgets earlier, but is a little more complicated to fasten. $15. www.travelonbags.com
Conceal Wear showed its new travel/money pouch that snaps directly to any fabric such as your pants pocket or even underwear, and remains completely invisible. No more embarrassing fanny packs! www.concealwear.com
One of my favorite products that’s great for kids is the Zoobie pet. It’s a soft plush animal that opens to become a pillow and then unzips to reveal a soft blanket that’s pulled out. It comes in a variety of animals and costs about $35. www.zoobies.com
A capsule version of Jet Lag Formula promises to reduce the effects of jet lag was introduced. Developed by an herbalist and acupuncturist, it’s been highly recommended to me by a friend in the technology business who lives on airplanes. A combination of herbs is designed to combat the various factors that contribute to jet lag, including ginko to fight poor circulation and feverview, which has been shown to help migraine sufferers. A pack of 16 costs about $20. www.jetlagformula.com
Traveler-ER, Inc. has introduced an easy-to-use, solution for traveling with your personal, medical and emergency contact information. The Traveler-ER USB drive lets you store and carry the vital records experts advise you to have when traveling. Just stick it into your computer (PC only) to fill out the records. In an emergency the records can be accessed by inserting the drive into any other PC. An emergency records report organizes your emergency records into a printable format. A sticker goes onto your license calling attention to the drive that’s small enough be stored with your keys. Available at www.Traveler-ER.com for $29.95.
THE DELIGHTFULLY KOOKY & THE DOWNRIGHT BIZARRE
Kangopack showed a tray liner that provides an antimicrobial barrier between a travelers’ belongings and the plastic bins used at the TSA checkpoints. It covers the inside of the bin to provide protection from those nasty germs living in the tray—according to Kangopack, the bins are loaded with bacteria, fungi and mold carried by passengers’ shoes and other items. The product comes with a sanitizer spray for the hands, as well. I’m not sure you’d want to be in line behind the paranoid person spritzing away. www.kangopack.com
The innovative Tugo drink holder straddles the handle of a roller bag to become the third hand to hold your Starbucks as you’re running to your gate. The flexible design means that the cup stands upright even as you tilt the bag. $8.95. www.goodtugo.com
Accessory Sports showed some leather bag tags in the shape of a baseball, football, tennis ball, basketball, and more. What makes it unusual is that the tag is made of material that’s the same as the actual balls. www.accessorysports.com
If you’re worried about spending in these tough economic times, stay away from one of the most absurd products at the show: the “hand crafted” customizable 22-inch wheelie carry on from Vvego. Not only is it ugly, but it looks like a $200 bag yet costs $2,700!
However, the winner of the most bizarre product, even more so than the Kangopack, is the Pocket Armrest that’s a double arm sling designed to keep your arms close to your body to prevent them from intruding into the next seat. Wearing it might get you mistaken for a convict being transported to prison. www.pocketarmwrest.com
By Phil Baker. You can read Phil’s blog at blog.philipgbaker.com, and click here to check out his new book, From Concept to Consumer: How to Turn Ideas into Money.
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