Coming and Going: What's New in Travel Goods; Trail Volunteers Wanted

Sunday, April 5, 2009

TRAVEL TRENDS

Real Runway Fashions

Last month, travelistas gathered in Las Vegas for the annual Travel Goods Show, the world's largest trade expo for travel products. About 235 exhibitors previewed 40,000 objects that covered every aspect -- and mode -- of travel. For an overview of the show, CoGo contacted the Travel Goods Association president, Michele Marini Pittenger, who highlighted the major trends in travel goods.

-- Black Out, Bold In: " 'Fashion' continues to play a big role in the look of travel bags -- prints, bright colors and lots of options for filling out your 'wardrobe' of bags needed for both travel and everyday use," Pittenger said by e-mail. Rowallan of Scotland, for one, showcased colors reminiscent of grass, sky and pink nail polish. Heys bedecks its Britto Collection bags with splashy designs by Brazilian pop artist Romero Britto, and Olympia's Luggage America pops with polka dots and swirling orbs.

-- Lighten Up: "We saw a lot more lightweight luggage, both soft-sided and hard-sided," Pittenger said, explaining how polycarbonate is replacing hard plastic. "By incorporating newer lightweight and durable materials for both the frame and the exterior, you now have the option of carrying a bag that weighs significantly less and will hold up to the rigors of travel." Brands slimming down include Landor & Hawa's Sub Zero G, Antler's Size Zero and Eagle Creek's Hovercraft.

-- Multi-tasking Luggage: "We are seeing a lot of hybrids, where a bag is not just a bag: duffels on wheels, backpacks as computer carriers, business cases that also hold a change of clothing -- whatever combination of features will meet the changing needs of consumers." For example, Briggs & Riley's Clamshell Backpack stores your day's essentials but also holds a computer and is checkpoint-approved, so you don't have to remove your valuable item. Wally Bags' Destination Bag is a garment carrier large enough to fit a bridal gown or other formal dress. And Swany's Zipcart is a bucket-shaped bag on wheels with a retractable seat.

-- Creature Comforts: "On-board comfort is increasingly important. Anything that helps make that part of your trip easier is important, given the changes in amenities offered by the airlines today." To wit: Fli's TuGo cup holder attaches to a roll-on bag handle, so travelers can sip and pull; the Traveler-ER by Traveler's Supply stores medical data on a pill-size USB drive; and LV Comfort's Travel Nook pillow offers non-bulky rest with two plush wedges that wrap around your ears. And in the category of Stuffed Animals With Purpose: Zoobies are plush critters that transform into a pillow, blanket and an object to snuggle.

To track down certain luggage models and styles, contact the company or check such online retailers as eBags.com and Luggageonline.com. Also, many travel specialty stores and department stores carry the more popular brands or can order them for you. For information on the Travel Goods Association: 609-720-1200, http://www.travel-goods.org.

TRAVEL TICKER

The nonprofit organization that helps manage and protect the 3,100-mile Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is looking for volunteers to help build, clear and maintain trails. Nearly 40 projects are available this year, lasting from one day to a week; programs are in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. Info: 888-909-2382, http://www.cdtrail.org.

BARGAIN OF THE WEEK

United's Great Fly Away Sale includes discounted fares from Washington Dulles, Reagan National and BWI Marshall to cities around the globe. For example, round-trip fare from BWI to Seattle starts at $160, including $51 taxes. Round-trip fare from Dulles to Paris starts at $562, including taxes. Travel to most cities must be completed by June 17.

Restrictions, including advance-purchase requirements, vary by destination. Deal also includes 20 percent discount at select Marriott hotels. Book at http://www.united.com by April 5, or pay $25 more by calling 800-864-8331.

Reporting: Andrea Sachs

Help feed CoGo. Send travel news, road reports and juicy tattles to: cogo@washpost.com. By fax: 202-912-3609. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.


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