Travel in Style with These Great Gifts and Gadgets for Every Budget
We may pack our itineraries with exciting new places, but when it comes to packing our bags, most of us still travel the same way we have for years. It's time for a travel makeover. Give your vacationing life a little more flair with these new ideas in travel products (like this chic-looking but totally affordable backpack full of picnic supplies, described later) that are sure to elevate the way you go from now on.
We call it The Shirt Clam. You can see why. Much like a mollusk, a hard shell clamps around soft, easily damaged innards, protecting them from harm. In this case, your easily wrinkled garments will arrive flat rather than crumpled and sloppy. The official name, PackTidy Shirt & Tie Commuter Travel Luggage Organizer, is messier than you will ever look once you purchase this product. Available in black, brown, and gray, it comes with a little folding board and instructions for how to fold your shirts just right to maximize the protection. You don't even have to wait for vacation—the handy shirt shell is ideal for storing workclothes at the gym and during bike commutes, too.
One outlet is no longer enough. We have too many devices. Rather than carry a passel of electrical outlet adapters to plug in all around your hotel room overseas, take just one: the Global Charginghub 300, which can be used in 150 countries thanks to an array of sliding prongs (it can handle higher voltages if your devices can). Two USB slots let you charge two more devices at 12W (5V, 2.4A). That makes three things charging, all at once, off a single outlet. Ventev.com
While we're on the unglamorous subject of personal organization, here's a way to make it glamorous. Do you really want to stick with Ziploc baggies to carry your liquid allowance through airport security—or would you rather be the envy of TSA officers and baggage inspectors in airports around the world? Never again will you do last-minute battle with a bunched-up jumble of junk as you go through the scanner. The size of the Flight 001 Clear Carry-On Quart Bag is TSA-appropriate, it seals with a plastic zip, and because the sides are sturdy it retains a good shape. Once you get to the hotel, the bag can double as a holder for all your little standing bottles in the bathroom. Sometimes it's the simple things. Flight001.com
It looks good and it does good. Online retailer Everlane recently made the jump to brick-and-mortar stores, a sign of success owing partly to the company's ethics (Everlane only works with factories that provide healthy environments and fair wages for workers) and partly to the smart looks available. Witness the Twill Weekender. There's one zip pocket, one slip pocket, leather straps, and so much high-toned style that even Gwyneth Paltrow would be impressed. The exterior is water-resistant cotton that can be done in different colors, like all black, but we have a soft spot for this palette, which Everlane calls "reverse denim/dipped navy."
Don't you wish you were one of those Martha Stewarty people who shows up at every outdoor occasion with a chilled bottle of wine and a tasteful selection of cubed cheeses? Well, the Picnic Time 'PT-Colorado' Insulated Backpack Cooler is an affordable way to make that happen—and unlike traditional hampers and baskets, this modern-looking backpack is an easy way to tote your feast without getting bogged down. You'll get place settings for two: plates, wine glasses, knives, forks, spoons, napkins, and a set of salt and pepper shakers. Champagne and sunset not included. PicnicTime.com
In packing, it's always smart to find ways to use the same item for multiple functions. That's the beauty of the Asana Pillow: 2-in-1 Neck Pillow and Yoga Mat, which, quite simply, turns the mat you use for your cat pose into a pillow to use for a cat nap. The polyester-and-nylon mat, which is best suited for outdoor yoga and not the hardest floors, is thin enough to double as a beach mat as well—and the whole thing is machine washable. OmTheGo.com
Sometimes, we just buy things because they're cute. Designed by artist Nikki Cade and constructed of tough polyurethane, the adorable Map Maker Passport Holder from Anthropologie has a gold-and-navy interior with a few slots for extra documents and cards in addition to the main compartment for your passport. Cade designed a matching luggage tag, too. Holiday gifts sorted!
Like LPs and Murphy Brown, instant cameras are back, so somehow, Polaroid survived the lean years to re-emerge as a hip brand once again. This time, there's no shaking the photos and waiting for your image to appear like a ghost at a séance—now, with the Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera, the peel-and-stick prints emerge instantly, just the way the Selfie Generation likes its gratification. There's a built-in flash (you don't need flash bulbs—some things deserve to remain obsolete), plus you have the options of printing your photos in black and white, sepia tones, or four to a page. What's next—rotary mobile phones? Polaroid.com
The term "fanny pack" is dead, not least because saying it will get you slapped in England (look it up). No, now we call them "waist packs," and no matter what you've been told, we need them now more than ever. Eagle Creek's version comes with a special fleece-lined pocket made expressly to baby your smartphone or tablet. With slots inside pockets inside zips, this is basically the Inception of waist packs, except that you won't need somebody to explain it to you. Instead, this well-organized pack keeps everything close to the hip while you're doing more important things with your hands, such as snapping photos, eating, or googling what "fanny" means in England. EagleCreek.com
When we travel, many of us press our smartphones into service as alarm clocks. This ingenious yet simple flip-up dock, the Chargestand 3000c, allows you to prop up your mobile phone in either portrait or landscape mode (ideal for alarm clock apps that display the time that way) while it's being charged. The dock's little charging plug is connected to a fabric cord so that if you knock it over, it won't stress the prong, and, as an implausible bonus, the stand itself doubles as a backup battery. So if no outlet is available, you can still maintain a charge. Ventev.com
It's pretty, it glides along the floor like a dream, and even though it's hard-sided, an expansion zipper will give you a few extra packing inches if you need them. The Victorinox Etherius Global Carry-On is remarkably light (a little over 6 pounds). Inside, Y-shaped compression straps keep your clothes in place, while exterior zipper grips click into the case itself as part of a TSA-approved locking system so you don't need to buy a separate dangling lock. The one problem is that you must prepare for the emotional distress you feel the first time the airline baggage handlers put a scratch in that gleaming finish. But—sigh—that's what it's for. On the bright side, airline and transit damages are under warranty for the first year after purchase. SwissArmy.com