My mailboxes — email and the old-fashioned kind — have been filling with items that may be of interest to travelers and those who love them. Here are a few:
There are the Wine Trails of California and Arizona, the auspicious Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails, the agricultural trails of Oregon (love the Fruit Loop), the Lighthouse Trail of Nova Scotia and the Freedom Trail of Boston. There are Rails-to-Trails pathways (some 31,000 miles of former railroad tracks) and the “whale trail” of Quebec Province, which follows the St. Lawrence River and out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Yes, destinations have learned that the “trail” designation can bring distinction and visitors, and that’s why Butler County, Ohio, created the Donut Trail for your eating pleasure.
Located 20 miles north of Cincinnati, Butler County claims one of the country’s highest concentrations of donut shops per capita — one for every 18,000 people. Nine mom-and-pop shops are listed on the Donut Trail map, and to celebrate the trail’s first anniversary, donut devotees can earn jazzy t-shirts by filling their donut passport (available at all shops) with stamps from every store. Sounds like a worthy pursuit — and you don’t even need hiking boots. twitter.com/donuttrail
For the privileged: Go from donuts to diamonds with Frontiers International Travel’s one-day luxury excursion, the Diamond Safari. For $16,125, you and five of your best friends can board a private charter that flies to the west coast of South Africa where you will deep-sea dive for diamonds, enjoy gourmet meals and Dom Perignon, take a class in diamond grading and purchase a diamond (optional and extra). Call (800) 245-1950 or visit frontiersej.com.
For travelers: Some gadgets to make all your journeys easier, safer, cheaper and more efficient:
Little ears are delicate and must last a lifetime, which means keeping exposure to high-decibel noise to a minimum. But it’s not easy to monitor the decibel level of music, video, games and electronic devices. Enter BuddyPhones by onanoff,
headphones for kids designed with built-in protection against really loud noises. The phones provide choices of noise level, but none exceeds 94 decibels. The durable, adjustable headphones come with a tote bag, an airline adapter, and a splitter that allows up to four listeners. Great for road trips; kids are entertained and drivers can listen to their own audio. For age 3 and up. $24.99. onanoff.com/collections/buddyphones.
When it’s time to turn off the electronics, give your kids Wipenotes, dry erasable notebooks with colorful covers and blank pages on which they can draw, write and erase ad infinitum.
A great diversion while traveling and an alternative to hotel television. Varying sizes; $13.99 to $19.99. wipenote.com.
We know that plastic water bottle are ubiquitous, and damaging to the environment. The DYLN Living Alkaline Water Bottle not only helps to ameliorate this problem, but makes better tasting water that you can take with you.
You may save money, too. (Americans spend nearly $8 billion annually on bottled water.) A diffuser in the bottle converts acidic water to alkaline (a pH greater than 7), which some say makes water healthier. The 25.4-ounce bottle is made of surgical-grade steel, is BPA-free, has a removable silicone sleeve and a diffuser that processes 400 refills. $46. dyln.co/.
Need a safe place to store small valuables in a dorm room, while at the beach or when you leave a campsite? SAFEGO is a portable, lightweight safe that can hold a wallet, phone, car keys, watch, sunglasses etc.
It comes with a steel cable so you can secure it to any fixed or heavy object and make it darn inconvenient for someone to steal. Also includes a combination lock and keys. Five colors. $39.95. safego.us.
Charging cables can be frustrating — they break and tangle — but Nomad has developed ultra-rugged charging cables that, if Apple would quit changing its iPhone, could last a lifetime.
The cables are made with Kevlar and heavy-duty nylon. The Battery Cable ($39.95) not only charges your phone or iPad, but charges the attached battery so you have a portable, back-up power supply. The thick Universal Cable ($34.95) is 5 feet long, comes with a five-year guarantee and will never tangle. hellonomad.com/products/rugged-cables.
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.