The Coast News Group
Hit the Road

These products can help make traveling a lot easier

As a travel writer, I’m occasionally asked to evaluate products for travelers, and I’ve found some great gadgets for gadabouts among the latest group.
Katie Grove of Columbus, Ohio, got tired of hassling with her winter coat on her frequent trips to New York City and came up with this solution — the Abrigo Bag. “Abrigo” is Spanish for “coat,” and this jacquard fabric, water-resistant, carry-on bag is plenty large enough to store that bulky coat — the one you’ll need when visiting the East Coast in January.
There is plenty of room for your laptop, cosmetics or an extra pair of shoes, too. The bag has a zippered outside pocket that slips over your suitcase handle and provides even more space. Perhaps best of all, Grove says that your coat can stay in the 19-inch by 22-inch bag while traversing the airport-security gauntlet. Comes in two colors. $200.
Sometimes all you need is your cell phone, some gum and lip gloss — maybe a credit card and iPod, too. That’s when a Hipzbag comes in handy. Two swivel hooks allow attachment to belt loops, but I like the adjustable matching strap that lets me wear the little faux-leather purse around my hips. That leaves my hands are free for kids or whatever. The Hipzbag is great for walks, bike rides or keeping the essentials close during a flight. Comes in various fabrics, sizes and colors. From $12.95.
Say “road trip,” or just tell me to get in the car and I’m hungry. But eating en route can be messy and maybe a little dangerous. So what if you could keep a supply of goodies in a container that not only is handy, but keeps the Cheetos out of the cracks between the seats? My Smart Snacker is a container that holds both snacks and beverages within arm’s reach. This device fits into your cup holder and is dishwasher-friendly.
You can also remove the base to use it on any flat surface. Comes in four colors; $14.99.
Waiting in an airport boarding area can feel a little claustrophobic and clumsy. Having a place to put a drink, snacks, cell phone, notepad or newspaper would certainly be useful.
My Airport Butler creates that useful table-top surface. It fits most roll-on suitcases, then folds up to an 8-inch by 6-inch package that fits into a suitcase, backpack or large purse. $19.95 plus shipping and handling.
If you are one of the 20 percent of dog owners that likes to take your pet with, you’ll want San Diego author and dog-lover Maggie Espinosa’s guide to good times with your canine. “The Privileged Pooch; Luxury Travel With Your Pet In Southern California” ($18) lists 69 hotels, 55 bistros, 56 activities and 36 shops in San Diego, Palm Springs, Orange County, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara that are doggie-friendly. (Think water bowls, doggie treats, pet facials and organic and vegetarian canine cuisine.) Espinosa set her standards high. If weight limits were too strict, access too limited or fees too high, the destination didn’t make the cut.
I like saying “BubbleBum,” but it’s more than just fun word. It’s a clever, conveniently portable and inflatable kid’s booster seat for the car. It deflates to fit backpack, suitcase or large purse. No more hauling that bulky booster seat when you travel, and it’s great for grandparents to have on hand. According to the manufacturer, the seat meets all U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards as well as European standards. And in case of puncture during a crash, BubbleBum’s energy-absorbing memory foam “remains structurally sound.”
Not every car can accommodate the BubbleBum, and if you experience some slippage between the booster seat and car seat, Safe Kids USA recommends putting a sheet of rubbery shelf liner between the two. A child must be 4 years old and weigh at least 40 pounds to use BubbleBum. $39.99.
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