I’m always on the lookout for gadgets that make traveling easier for gadabouts. Here are some I’ve discovered:
I’m not one to say the sky is falling when it comes to bedbug infestations, but if the idea of carrying home tiny, six-legged hitchhikers that suck blood doesn’t appeal to you, there’s a possible solution. As soon as you arrive at your hotel, entomb your suitcase in a BugZip, a heavy plastic, zippered cover that you’ll open only to retrieve your items. When it’s time to leave for home, unzip your suitcase and leave the BugZip cover for disposal. Several sizes are available, including drawer liners. $14.99 to $24.99. Visit bugzip.com.
Speaking of things that go zip…How did travelers ever get along without plastic bags? They’ve become a travel staple, and now there’s a new version of this convenience. Called EcoZip, these plastic bags have a three-zipper system. This allows travelers to carry two items separately in one plastic bag — like two foods you want to keep separate until consumption. You can also use the middle zipper to make a larger bag. The women who invented them wanted to decrease their plastic consumption, though not going totally without. There is a convenient quart-size EcoZip that meets TSA requirements for your 3-ounce bottles. Also handy for the items you need when traveling with children. The bags come in three sizes: snack/sandwich; quart; and gallon. $3.99/box or three for $9.99. Visit ecozip-bags.com.
Want to know all the facts about California’s parks and beaches and take the information with you? There’s an app for that. It’s called CalParks. The free app is available for iPhone and Android users. It provides the histories of the state’s parks, and lets hikers navigate trails using detailed maps that include points of interest, photos and audio. The design of the app was
in collaboration with EveryTrail, a website and app that allows travelers to plan trips based on others’ experiences. Download CalParks at the App Store or find it on iTunes. Visit EveryTrail.com.
Going “bye-bye” with baby? Every traveling parent knows what a challenge it is to fly with infants toddlers. You can buy a separate ticket and lug the car seat, or baby can fly for free if you are willing to hold him/her the entire time. Most parents do this, but there is always a concern for safety since there are no seatbelts for babies. What if you hit that dreaded air pocket? Baby B’Air is the answer. This in-flight safety vest allows parents to seat their babies and toddlers on their laps during the flight and be safely secured. The FAA-approved harness attaches easily to the adult via the seat belt, and it comes in two sizes. $34.95. Visit babybair.com.
The words “children” and “challenge” seem to go together when it comes to traveling (see previous item). When the kids are a bit older, though, and the flights or road trips are long, the name of the game is distraction. Enter Wikki Stix Travel Kits, an updated, jazzier version of pipe cleaners made of non-toxic wax and acrylic yarn sticks that can be twisted into any shape.
Made in the U.S. of A., these brightly colored play sticks contain no lead, latex, peanut or nut oils. They stick to any surface but come off easily, and best of all, leave no mess.
The makers promise they’ll keep a kid occupied for miles, and that even adults may be tempted to create a dinosaur, flower or spaceship. Some parents say they are ideal for kids with special needs. Wikki Stix comes in kits of all sizes and for all seasons. $3 to $95. Visit wikkistix.com.
E’Louise Ondash is a veteran, award-winning journalist who was an investigative reporter, feature writer and columnist for the Times Advocate and the North County Times. She has written travel features for The Coast News since 2003.