Gear to go
Stocking stuffers: Gadget bags, memory sticks,
educational playing cards, Fandex Family Guides, disposable underwear,
Appalachian Trail bandannas, flight-ready locks, Brush-Ups for in-flight
By Donald D. Groff
Travel gadgetry once meant a Swiss Army
knife tucked in a pocket. Today, the knife is relegated to the checked
luggage, while what we - and our gift-loving friends and relatives - keep
closest at hand are cell phone, digital camera, PDA, iPod, extra batteries
(AA and AAA), chargers, adapters, digital memory cards, and so on. top
Keeping everything accessible and organized is the new challenge. Are
those batteries in my pocket fresh, or in need of a charge? Where's the
charger? That sort of question led to Podzilla, a bag designed for those
nearing gadget overload. Its padded main compartment holds a full-size
camera or any number of smaller devices.
But it's the zipped outside pockets on three sides that are engineered for
organized storage, with elastic strips that anchor paraphernalia that
often ends up in a mess at the bottom of normal bags. In one pocket,
elastic puckered like a bandolier holds batteries in place; in other
pockets, more elastic grips other accessories.
You can carry the Podzilla by the padded handle on its lid or a shoulder
strap, or wear it on your belt. I tried one of these on a month-long road
trip and, for the first time in years, I always knew where everything
The Podzilla measures 8 by 6 by 9 inches and is available in half a dozen
color combinations. RoadWired, the manufacturer, also offers a smaller
case called the Pod and many other carrying cases. The Podzilla retails
for about $70 and can be ordered at www.roadwired.com,
where you also can find stores by zip code, including Seidenberg Luggage
in Ardmore and Laptop Lane at the airport.
Memory sticks with an edge. Swiss Army nostalgia goes digital with
the Victorinox Swiss Army Memory AirTravel, which resembles the
traditional knife but, instead of a blade, has a memory stick for carrying
digitized photos, music, and other computer data that can be easily
retrieved using a USB port on most computers.
Also tucked in the "knife" are a pen and an LED mini light ($77
for 128K memory). Another version is available with memory stick and blade
and other hardware, but don't try to fly with it. Find the gadgets online
www.swissarmy.com or call
For computer users, the memory stick gift idea is a good one even if it's
not wrapped in a knife casing, and there are many choices of brand and
size, starting at about $25. The more capacity - 128K, 256K, 512K - the
better. Among top suppliers are Lexar,
www.lexar.com, and SanDisk, www.sandisk.com.
The devices can be found in many places, including Staples, Wal-Mart and
Educational cards. Teaching kids to be card sharks can be
educational - if the cards are embellished with U.S. and world maps.
Universal Map makes several types of 52-card decks that teach geography
whether they're played at home or in the back seat of the family SUV. The
U.S. Cards each feature a different state - the ace of spades is Alaska -
with map and details such as the state bird, flower, tree and
decks feature national parks and U.S. cities. And the faces on World Cards
feature 192 countries with area, population, growth rate, and capital.
Single decks are $4.95, double deck sets are $8.95. Large-format cards are
available, too, for little hands. Order or find the cards through
1-800-359-6277, Ext. 212.
Family Field Guides. Plotting a family vacation means including
the children in the planning, yet tykes can't trudge through dense
guidebooks. But they'll enjoy the Fandex Family Field Guides, whose format
is decidedly unbooklike.
Imagine colorful photo-flashcards mounted on cardboard shafts that spread
open fan-style. It's fun, and the information on the front and back of
each of the fan pages whets the appetite for each attraction. Whole guides
are devoted to New York City, Washington, and the 50 states, and other
guides are devoted to nearly 20 topics such as the Civil War, wildflowers,
explorers, presidents, and American Indians.
In the 100-page New York guide, Harlem, Soho, Central Park, Little Italy,
and other must-sees are highlighted in photos, with amusing and
informative details that engage the minds of children and adults
In Grand Central Station's celestial ceiling, the New York guide notes,
the 2,500 stars in the Zodiac are arranged as you would see them if you
were looking down from the other side, not from Earth. Who knew? The
Fandex guides are from Workman Publishing and cost $9.95 in book and
Throw-away underwear. Years ago, a friend touted the practice of
packing worn undies for travel, then discarding them as she went along. It
lightened the load and made room in her bag for new acquisitions. That's
the idea behind OneDerWear - underwear designed to be worn once, and then
OneDerWear comes as boxers and briefs for men and as thong, bikini, and
classic brief styles for women, and is not going to win any fashion
awards. Think plain white. They come in packs of five and each pair in its
individual plastic wrap is not much bigger than an egg. They're made of
lightweight cotton and are acceptably comfortable.
I don't see most people packing 14 pairs of these for a two-week trip, but
they do come in handy on those days when your undie stash has run out and
the hotel laundry hasn't returned your silk drawers just yet. And there's
a dirty little secret here: You can wash and reuse them. OneDerWear is $8
to $10 per pack, available from
www.onederwear.com or through
travel-goods retailers such as Magellan's, phone 1-800-962-4943, Web site
Fast-dry underwear. Another twist in underwear strategy is knickers
made from durable fabric that dries quickly, such as Tilley Travel
Underwear, from Tilley Endurables, the company best known for its travel
hats. The underwear is made of fabric that wicks away sweat and is thin
enough to dry overnight after being washed in your hotel sink.
All but the backpacking set might find this tiresome day after day, but
the Tilleys provide an option if you need it. They're available in white
and gray, with boxer ($19) and brief ($17) models for men, brief and
high-cut brief (both $15) for women. Stores that sell them can be found
www.tilley.com, or order at
1-800-363-8737. Fast-dry briefs also are available through
Appalachian Trail bandannas. Even if you don't have time to hike
it, you can wear the Appalachian Trail around your neck, thanks to a
series of four bandannas that have the whole 2,174-mile trail printed on
Dubbed "mapdannas" by the Appalachian Trail Conference - the
venerable volunteer organization that preserves and promotes hiking the
trail - each depicts a different section: from Springer Mountain, Ga., to
Damascus, Va.; Damascus to Harpers Ferry, W.Va.; Harpers Ferry to Falls
Village, Conn.; Falls Village to Katahdin, Maine. Harper's Ferry to Falls
Village includes the section running through Pennsylvania and New
Besides the novelty, it's a useful gift; every outdoors person knows the
many ways bandannas come in handy on the trail - keeping off the sun,
mopping the brow, holding pot handles. Each bandanna costs $12.95 (less
for ATC members) at
A year ago, the government approved a new type of luggage lock that
airport security inspectors could open without breaking, which was music
to the ears of travelers who didn't want to leave their checked bags
unlocked. But the locks were a new product in short supply, and it was
nearly impossible to find them for holiday gift-giving.
That has changed. Now many companies offer the Transportation Security
Administration-approved locks in many styles and sizes. They're more
colorful than ever - red, black, yellow, aqua, purple, blue, lime green
– which could also help you spot your bag on the luggage carousel.
The TSA-approved locks all have a red diamond-shaped Travel Sentry logo.
Prices range from less than $5 for a small brass lock to $10 for heftier
models. They're in airport shops, baggage and outdoor stores, and many
places online. A pack of two three-dial combination locks from Lewis N
Clark was recently $13 at
Dental refreshment. Our cultural fascination with fresh breath has
produced a product that travelers can smile about: Oral-B Brush-Ups. Think
dental squeegee. They may be intended to compete in the Altoid universe,
but for passengers at the end of an overnight flight to Europe they
provide a welcome solution to jetlag mouth. Brush-Ups are disposable,
mint-flavored wipes that you slip onto a finger to give your teeth a good
scrub-down. No rinsing is necessary, which is good news if you're trapped
in the window seat. The Brush-Ups cost about $3 for a pack of 12
individually packaged wipes. Find them at drugstores or at sites listed at
- Rip-proof maps; Road Trip book series;
Traveling Curmudgeon; National parks, leather-bound.
Posted Dec. 16, 2003
Stocking stuffers with
By Donald D. Groff
For holiday gift giving, nothing beats surprising a traveler
with stocking stuffers that he or she didn’t anticipate – or never
even heard of – but which, once unwrapped, prove to be satisfyingly
perfect. The sort of gift that catches the recipient’s fancy, as when a
6-year-old embraces a particular present and parades around all day with
it while ignoring other gifts.
Here are a handful of small travel items that could easily fit into
Rip-proof maps. Many mapping
innovations have arisen in the past decade, but none more practical than
the new Rough Guide maps made of a fabric called Polyart, a synthetic
paper that reminds me of tough Tyvek envelopes.
The maps are rip-proof and waterproof, yet the map image is sharp and
smooth as if printed on high-quality paper.
Those who consult their maps often know how wear and tear takes its
toll, first along the fold lines, eventually fading the print and making
parts of the map unreadable. These maps could put that old pattern into
the history books.
Heck -- in a jam, you could use them for a tablecloth or rain scarf.
Twenty maps are available so far, including Mexico, New Zealand,
Thailand, Hawaii, Baja California, Argentina, Cuba, Ireland, and the
Yucatan Peninsula. The maps are double-sided, measure 27.5 by 36.2 inches
flat, 10 by 4 inches folded, and each costs $8.95, or £4.99 in the United
Find them in map stores or online at the Rough
Road trip map guides. Face
it – if you’re road-tripping along a famous route, you don’t really
need a thick guidebook that covers the entire state or region. A guide
that provides good maps and a framework for what to see
and where to eat and stay along the way does nicely, thanks.
Lonely Planet has hit upon an alluring solution with its new series of
Road Trip guides, including, so far, California Highway 1, Route 66,
and Napa & Sonoma Wine Country. (Due out in the spring are
guides for New England and the Hudson River Valley.)
The 64-page, pocket-size guides have
tri-fold maps built into the front and back covers, and in between is a
wealth of concise information that lets you pause at the right places
while rolling down that ribbon of highway. Even though it’s terse, the
prose does not overlook the negative. Along East Santa Fe Avenue in
Flagstaff, Ariz., for instance: "Vintage neon signs may look
alluring, but the rooms are decidedly lackluster."
The guides cost $10, £5.99 in the U.K., and can be found in stores or
at the Lonely
Travel quotes & notes.
travel-related quotations come down the pike regularly, but few have the
thrust and attitude found in The Traveling Curmudgeon, by Jon
Winokur, who one can only imagine has spent decades lying in wait for
these hundreds of quotes and anecdotes both modern and historical.
While the overall tone of these observations is, well, curmudgeonly,
they serve a higher purpose, too, a sociological survey reflecting not
just the angst of travel today, but neatly documenting that travel
generated angst long before the Transportation Security Administration
arrived on the scene.
What’s more, they’re fun – and
educational. Anyone who’s become obsessed with his own recent travel
misfortunes need only peruse these pages to put things in perspective.
The book has more than the usual number of
categories, including sections with country-by-country and city-specific
aspersions, as well as themes such as souvenirs, baby boomer behavior,
customs, and traveling companions. There’s a photo section, which may
merit extra scrutiny given the burst of digital photography among
travelers. Certainly a quote from Erma Bombeck has more relevance than
ever: "No one wants to see your slides. Get that through your head.
Not your parents, who gave you life. Not your kids who are insecure and
need your approval. . . . Not even someone whose life you saved in the war
and owes you big."
The 180-page book, about the size of an adult hand, is in book stores
or can be found through the publisher,
National parks in leather.
For the national parks lover on
your list, a classy stocking stuffer is the leather-bound America: National Parks and Destinations, a
small atlas of the country’s parks and recreation areas that, despite
its size and simplicity, is bound to set the park aficionado’s heart a’twitter.
I received one of these as a Christmas gift two years ago, and it has had
a place at my desk, never more than an arm’s length away, ever since.
When you cup it in your hand, you feel like you have the whole park system
at your disposal.
The book’s 320 pages are edged in gold
leaf, making even the clutter surrounding it look good. National Parks is
part of a series produced by Graphic
Image New York. Stores that sell the book can be located by
calling 1-800-232-5550 during business hours, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a one-two punch, tuck inside the book a one-year
National Parks Pass, granting admission to parks that have entrance fees.
The $50 pass can be bought at the National
Park Service site, though at the moment a note there says
orders will not be filled until January 2004.
To get one in time for the holidays, try a visitor
center such as the one at Independence National Historical Park
(215-965-2308) in Philadelphia.
Age Passport, which offers the same admission privileges, is
available to those older than 62 for a one-time fee of $10.
- Comfort in flight: Pillows, blankets,
audio & video players, food and drink
Dec. 30, 2001
Measures to ensure
your comfort in flight
The flight attendant standing next to me on the train platform one
recent evening had just flown to Phila- delphia from Los Angeles, and she
was describing how things had changed on board her flights since Sept. 11.
Passengers often seemed more patient and nicer to each other, and some
flights had more empty space.
this column was written, airlines have restored some amenities. Others,
such as hot meals, are limited
to long-haul flights on some airlines, and several airlines now
offer meals for sale on longer flights.
Then she said Kareem Abdul-Jabar had been on
her flight that day, flying in first class. But when he asked for a pillow
the crew had to tell him there was none available. Not one on board.
"They’ve stopped giving us
supplies," she told me, alluding to the airline cutbacks.
Which raises the question: If a
7-foot-2-inch basketball legend can’t get a pillow in first class, what
chance do the rest of us have?
Fact is, passengers have a great chance of flying comfortably on long
flights -- especially if they prepare themselves with selected travel
Pillows. Take the pillow. The basic inflatable travel pillow has
evolved in recent years away from cold plastic to cozy inflatables with
many kinds of patterned, washable zip-off coverings. Others styles have
loft more like your pillow at home.
The Cascade Design Deluxe Pillow weighs only 7.5 ounces and compresses
into a small draw-string sack. Out of the sack, it swells into a
10-by-14-inch fluffy pillow filled with polyester fiber ($18, in travel
and outdoor stores such as Eastern Mountain Sports; www.cascadedesigns.com).
Another style, best known by the name Bucky, is filled with supportive
buckwheat hulls. The U-models (some in faux leopard skin) start at about
$30 and are available at Rand McNally, luggage stores and other outlets
listed at www.bucky.com. Eleven kinds
of pillows, most self-inflating, can be found on the Campmor site at www.campmor.com,
or call 1-800-226-7667.
Regular fliers know that jet cabins at times have temperature-control
problems – too warm or too cool. In any case, passengers aren’t
uniform in their comfort levels. But they can cover their own needs by
keeping a wrap handy or taking along their own blanket.
The Travillo is a 40-by-60-inch fleece
blanket that stores in a pouch and serves as a 10-by-12-by-3 inch pillow
until you need to unfold it. It’s available in gray for $34.85 from
Magellan’s travel catalog, phone 1-800-962-4943, www.magellans.com,
and in other colors from the manufacturer at www.travillo.com.
In a similar theme, TravelSmith offers a 36-by-60-inch fleece blanket that
stores inside a microfleece-covered inflatable pillow. The blanket has a
pouch at one end for tucking tootsies. The duo sells under the name
Airplane Comfort Kit for $39 at 1-800-950-1600, www.travelsmith.com.
Entertainment. With body temperature under control, passengers can
to creature comforts such as entertainment.
Long-distance buses in Mexico sometimes show better movies on their
screens than U.S. airlines do – and there’s no headset fee. But
airline passengers can take charge of their entertainment options by
carrying personal stereos or video systems.
Music systems have become more personal than ever as
new software lets users prepare their own CDs and MP3 technology allows
travelers to download music digitally. The Archos Jukebox 6000 is a
palm-size gadget that holds 100 hours of CD-quality music downloaded by
you (about $249 at computer and music stores; www.archos.com).
Sony’s CD Walkman Compact Disc/MP3 Disc Player ($149) gives the best of
both worlds for listening to traditional CDs or downloaded, customized
CDs also can be played on many laptop
computers, as can video games and movies. But even if you don’t carry a
laptop, there are personal viewers such as the Panasonic DVD-L50 Portable
DVD Player and the Sharp DV-L7OU that put passengers in the driver’s
seat for video entertainment. They play DVD movies and other entertainment
on a 7-inch screen.
Prices for such portables commonly run between $600 and $1,000. Other
choices are at www.portabledvdstore.com.
For far less cash, a company called
InMotion Pictures rents portable DVD players at more than a dozen U.S.
airports. One-way or round-trip rentals are available, or if you’re
stuck in the airport you can watch on site. The cost is usually $12 for
one movie and a player. No such rentals are available at Philadelphia
International at the moment, airport officials said. A list of InMotion
airport locations elsewhere is at www.inmotionpictures.com.
Whine & dine. Another
long-flight wild card – and traditional burr for those who prefer fine
cuisine -- is food and drink. Most airlines continue to serve meals on
transcontinental nonstops, but a two-leg trip may mean no food service at
all. Again, passengers can trump the problem by packing their own snacks
or meals, and taking along water has become de rigueur.
Cascade Designs, which produces Platypus
water gear for athletes, also produces collapsible water bottles suited to
travelers. The bottles cost a few dollars; the
carrying accessories are more expensive. One combination offered by
Magellan’s is the Platy Shoulder Tote for $24.85. Other combinations are
Besides the many insulated sandwich bags and small cooler-pouches that
lend themselves to hauling your own meal in a carry-on, another handy tote
is the insulated
wine-bottle carrier. They hold sandwiches and fruit
equally well, tuck neatly under the seat in front of you, and are
available in many stylish designs at kitchen and gourmet shops, as well as
at outdoor stores. Selections can be found at www.surftosummit.com
Anti-nausea wristbands, slipper socks,
medication reminders, hat in a bag.
Sept. 30, 2001
- Preparing for security
Donald D. Groff
airline passenger hasn’t at some time been caught at the security
checkpoint fumbling slightly nervously, trying to determine what on their
person set off the security alarm?
delays, multiplied by many passengers, often contribute to long rush-hour
X-ray lines that can be especially knotty when trying to catch a flight
already in the boarding process.
new, tighter security precautions at the nation’s airports, this is a
timely point for gadget-bearing passengers to think ahead, doing what they
can to speed their own passage through security checks. That means having
ticket and I.D. readily available and sidestepping delays before they
and accessory bags that can easily be removed from shoulder or belt are
worth considering as a repository for the many items that can set off an
alarm, from loose change and pens to sunglasses and cell phones. By
centralizing such items, they can be placed on the conveyor and passed
through the X-ray machine without delay.
all passengers took such care, undoubtedly we could make a big dent in the
time that will be lost because of the increased scrutiny. The new rules
also mean that we must learn to pack our old friend the Swiss Army Knife
in the checked luggage – or leave it home altogether.
Among items in today’s gadget grab bag:
than a decade ago, wristbands that rely on acupressure to fight motion
sickness appeared in stores and gradually caught on as a way to fight the
problem without drugs and their side effects. The bands, which contain a
bead that presses at certain spot on the wrist, work for many people and
have become common on cruises and deep-sea fishing trips worldwide. Now
comes the latest twist in fighting motion sickness – the ReliefBand,
which delivers electrical signals to those same pressure points.
The ReliefBand looks like a watch worn on the underside of the
wrist and retails for $125. Why spend that much when the low-tech
wristbands cost only $10 or so? For those who don’t find the simpler
bands effective, the ReliefBand may be more versatile. It has five “stimulation
levels” that can be adjusted with the push of a button. It also has the
FDA’s stamp of approval, something the other wristbands have never
obtained, though they cite medical studies in support of their products.
The ReliefBand operates on two batteries that last about 150 hours, and it
comes with a tube of gel that is applied to the wrist to improve
conductivity. It also fights
nausea and vomiting caused by morning sickness and chemotherapy. The
device is available in travel stores and CVS, Rite Aid and other
drugstores. For a list of retailers, visit the Web site of the
manufacturer, Woodside Biomedical of Carlsbad, Calif., at www.reliefband.com.
Slipper socks. The coach seat on my five-hour flight from Seattle
to Philadelphia had great leg room, but what I wouldn’t have given for a
pair of warm slipper socks. It was one of those rare window seats that had
no seat in front of it. As soon as I shed my shoes for added comfort,
though, I realized the chill creeping in from the bottom edge of the
emergency exit was going to be troublesome. Passengers on long overnight
flights, particularly in first class, routinely are provided with cabin
socks to slip over their feet. But long-haul travelers can take control of
their own comfort by packing slipper socks, which come in a variety of
fabrics. Most have flexible soles and pack easily in a shoulder bag. The
ones you bring will almost certainly be sturdier and warmer than what the
airlines offer. They can be found in many shoe, outdoor
and department stores, ranging in price from $5 to $25. Among many
online sources is Healthy Legs at www.healthylegs.com
or 1-888-495-0105. Magellan’s travel catalog offers a pair with gripper
treads for $14.85 at www.magellans.com
or by calling 1-800-962-4943.
Medication reminder. Travelers
who are saddled to a daily regimen of pills have a new remedy to the
problem of keeping track of them all. Its hefty name – the 7-day Travel
Medication Reminder & Organizer system – aptly describes its
function. But it doesn’t convey the cleverness of the system, which
comes from Denmark and is being sold in the United States by a company
called e-pill. The system includes seven 6-by-2-inch trays, one for each
day of the week, subdivided into four bins for morning, noon, evening and
night. The trays stack into a carrying case for packing, but can be
carried individually if you’re going to spend the day away from the
hotel. The system also includes a slender, almost stick-like timing device
that fits easily into a pocket and can be set by moving little tabs to
easily designate any number of alarms. The system is designed with details
important to many older users. The lettering is large enough to be read
easily; the trays are large enough to be handled easily; the timer doesn’t
require the engineering degree and surgeon’s touch that seem to be
prerequisites for operating many digital devices. The system is not
compact – roughly 7 by 7 by 2 inches – and at $49.95 is not
inexpensive. But for orderliness it is without peer. It can be ordered
from e-pill by calling 1-800-549-0095 or from Web site www.epill.com.
Hat in a Bag. Traveling with a ballcap or sombrero can be a
hassle when you’re not actually wearing it. Caps get left behind in
the overhead bin, more-elaborate chapeaus demand careful attention in
transit. But a California company called Izeo Two Design offers a
novel solution with the Hat in a Bag series, four styles of hats that
fold with a twist and stash in a nearly flat storage bag that can be
tucked away or hung from a belt loop. All are designed to provide
shade and repel water, owing to two-ply DuPont Supplex fabric, and
they weigh in at a very travelworthy 3 ounces.
The cowboy hat model has a 3 ½-inch brim that curls up on the
sides and has an accent band; the Shade model has a 3 ½-inch flat
bring all around; the Carrier model has a 5-inch front brim and a
2-inch back brim so that it can be worn with a backpack or baby
carrier; the Big Shade has a 5-inch brim for even more all-around sun
protection. The Big Shade retails for $34.95; the others for $29.95.
Most of the company’s retail outlets are in the West, but the hats
can be ordered from Izeo Two in San Rafael by calling 415-459-3800 or
at Web site www.hatinabag.com.
Shopping for the perfect shoulder bag, cooling
sprays, rail map, OptiClock. July 29, 2001
What to look for
Donald D. Groff
people obsessively search for new shoes while they travel – always
glancing into storefronts, grilling others on the source of their
footwear. Me, I search for
the perfect carry-on shoulder bag.
particular, one that’s not too bulky but has compartments or inner
sleeves to hold a book, a CD player, an electronic organizer, a small
camera, a cell phone, sunglasses, a notepad, a water bottle, a
magazine or two, my ticket, passport and other documents.
needs a clip strap to secure the ring of keys you don’t use while
you’re away, and an easy-to-access, zippered pocket for stashing
coins, beepers, and anything else that will set off the X-ray alarm if
you fail to remove it from your person.
is, hundreds of bags answer that description. But it’s a fun and
continuing expedition to find one that looks and feels right and doesn’t,
in the end, bulge desperately or take too much legroom.
latest candidate for “just right” is a bag by Kiva Designs called
the Little Big Mouth. It’s 13-by-11-by-9 inches in size and is
distinguished by a “big mouth” design, in which the unzipped top
is wired to gape open when spread. It has a comfortable leather hand
grip and shoulder strap, with two outer zip pockets and easy-to-grab
zipper tabs. The outer bottom resists abrasion.
it’s lined and has pockets that are easy to find and reach into,
thanks to that big mouth. In fact, the only drawback might be the
temptation to keeping slipping in more than you need. A new pair of
shoes, for instance.
plus is the bag’s looks – it’s a nice design that blends style
with outdoorsiness. It comes in six color schemes: slate, red and
Aztec sun are sporty; black, blue and evergreen are subdued but
Little Big Mouth retails for about $65 and can be found at Eastern
Mountain Sports, as well as luggage stores. For other locations, call
1-800-645-8818 or visit www.kivadesigns.com.
other items in today’s gadget grab bag:
Texas sun pounded down on the afternoon concert crowd at the Kerrville
Folk Festival one day last month, but the hombre in front of me had
his personal climate well under control. He had a cylinder in hand
that he would pump briefly, then direct the tip of a slender hose at
his head. With a pinch of a valve, he released pressurized water in a
cooling mist across his face and neck. You could almost hear him sigh.
What he was using was a “personal mister,” a gadget that comes in
many styles and prices. They’re great for golf, the beach, or any
spectator sport that means sitting in hot conditions. On an steamy
train in Thailand they would be heavenly.
them is the Arctic Mist by Misty Mate. You fill it with tap water (add
ice, if you wish), pump a plunger to compress the water, and it cools
for up to two hours of intermittent mist or 20 minutes of continual
mist. It comes in 10 ounce, 16 ounce and 24 ounce sizes for $18 to
$25, available from Misty Mate at 1-800-233-6478 or www.mistymate.com.
more sophisticated system, the Personal Mini Mister, is produced by
Island Mist. It uses carbon dioxide cartridges to power its
spray. It’s online at http://island-mist.com
for $34.95, or less expensively at www.shadeusa.com/misters.htm.
The misters also can be found at outdoor and recreation stores.
misters include a line by Circulair. One, Mister Fan, is a
squeeze-trigger bottle with a plastic fan blade attached.
A side cap opens to receive
ice cubes. A smaller option is the Pocket Spa Keychain Fan, in
which a little thumb-pump atomizer attaches to a little fan, which can
be detached and used separately. Circulair makes many other portable
fans, too, including the ever-popular Visor Fan, also known as the “wearable
cooling system.” They’re all described at www.circulair.com,
where there’s a list of stores carrying at least some of the
products, including Kmart, CVS Pharmacy and Bed, Bath & Beyond.
new Northeast USA Passenger Rail Travelers Map is a six-panel
laminated map that covers the rails from Virginia to Maine, and not
just the Amtrak stops. At a glance you can see the commuter rail
networks of Washington,
Baltimore, Boston, New York and Philadelphia, as well as the spine of
Amtrak service. It’s packed with information sources, too, such as
the Web site for the Penn’s Landing-Camden ferry and all the major
mass transit systems, including the Cape Cod ferries and ferries
between Fire Island and Long Island. It also shows tourist spurs, such
as the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad. The map costs $6.95 and can be
found in map stores or ordered (for $2.50 shipping) through the
publisher, Hedberg Maps, at 1-800-933-6277.
OptiClock. The Zelco OptiClock is one the newest travel clocks
on the market, distinguished by its simplicity and lack of bells and
whistles. It has a face
with hands and numbers 1 to 12 – nothing digital here – and one
unusual feature: a magnifying glass. The stylish clock is only about 2
inches high, and the magnifying lens can slide across the face to
double the size of the numbers. The lighted magnifier also can be used
for reading maps and other fine print. The clock has a quartz movement
with a four-step crescendo alarm and snooze function. It comes with a
travel pouch and runs on one alkaline button cell for the clock and a
Lithium button cell for the light. The OptiClock retails for about
$30. Locations of stores
stocking the clock can be found through 1-800-431-2486.
One location is Scarlet Alley (241 Race St., phone
215-592-7898). It can also be ordered at www.zelco.com.
Steps to ensure a comfy flight
Road Trip series
National parks, leather-bound