Travel gift guide: Goodies for people on the go

We've scoured high and low for the hippest, handiest gear, whether you're jet-setting or traveling around town.
Sunday, December 13, 2009

Whether or not a splurge-worthy vacation is in the cards this year, there's no reason for you or the lucky ones on your gift list to be without the proper travel accoutrements. We've scoured high and low for the hippest, handiest gear worthy of your hard-earned dollars (though not too many of them, we hope). Most of these gifts are just as good around town as they are around the world, and if you must suddenly jet off to distant parts, you'll be ready. After all, who knows what Santa might have in store for you?

-- Becky Krystal and Nancy Trejos

This holiday season, take a break from gorging on gingerbread and eggnog to feast your eyes on National Geographic's "Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe" ($40; and various other retailers). The tome is chock-full of appetizing photography and includes destination suggestions under such topics as "favorite street foods," "sea views to dine for" and one now on our bucket list: "places to try death by chocolate."

Tired of having all your personal effects jumbled at the bottom of your suitcase? Cocoon Innovations feels your pain. With its Grid-It! Organizer ($19.99;, you can stow your iPod, digital camera, chargers and other technological trappings all in one place. Items are secured by elasticized fabric with grip bumps that crisscross to allow any number of configurations. This clever little organizer also comes with a zip pocket on one side and a fabric loop for easy hanging.

Say goodbye to subsisting on sub-par food while in transit. The Ms. Bento Stainless Lunch Jar from Zojirushi ($56; available at and other online retailers) makes packing a meal for life on the go both cute and convenient. The set includes a vacuum-insulated main container and two microwaveable bowls. Bon appetit!

As a gift for those with a photographic bent, the Jill-e camera bag is as pretty as a picture. The weatherproof yellow nylon tote ($139.99; is adorned with a cream leather trim and a cheeky polka-dot interior. It's designed to hold a camera, a flash and two lenses, in addition to other accessories such as batteries and cables. A detachable shoulder strap adds to the bag's versatility, as does a detachable pouch for personal items. And if you just want to use it as a regular travel bag, there's no shame in that.

Perfect for avoiding the conundrum of paper or plastic, cloth grocery bags from Saxsy Stuff are also ideal satchels for wherever your travels may take you. Made of 100 percent cotton, the bags ($16; measure in at 15 inches tall, 12 inches wide and 7 inches deep. Roll one up in your luggage, and you'll have plenty of room for all the souvenirs you need to tote home. Feel free to load up: These babies can hold up to 30 pounds, and with 24-inch straps, they can be easily slung over your shoulder.

If the alliterative name of the Crumpler Kransky isn't reason enough to be fond of this bag, its design may be. The waterproof duffel ($100; can be, yes, crumpled for easy stowing but expands impressively. Padded carry and grab handles further facilitate heavy loading, and a few extra zipped pockets maximize storage capacity. We're particularly enamored of what the company calls a "self-healing" zipper that seems unlikely to snag at inopportune moments -- namely, in the security line.

Whether you're spelunking or just fumbling around an unfamiliar hotel room, the HUGlight will be a welcome addition to the tool kit of the traveler who likes to be prepared. A bit silly-looking on first inspection, this gadget ($19; can be bent into a variety of shapes to illuminate any kind of space using four surprisingly effective LED lights that you can turn on individually or all at once. The estimated battery life is 40 hours. Though you might not want to take up the package suggestion that you wear it around your neck, just know that the option is there.

Because dental hygiene shouldn't go by the wayside just because you're traveling, try the Supersmile Travel Pack ($22.50; created by New York-based cosmetic dentist Irwin Smigel. This compact package contains five days' worth of products to keep your teeth white and bright even while you're on the go. Among the products: Supersmile Whitening Accelerator Component (a bleaching solution), whitening toothpaste, a toothbrush and four packets of powdered mouth rinse. If you're too busy even to brush your teeth, don't fret. Dab some Supersmile Quikee on your teeth, or chew one of the 12 pieces of whitening gum. Smile!

Tired of sitting on the grass for your kid's soccer game? If so, the light, portable Monarch Chair by Alite Designs ($59.99; may be right for you. Here's what makes it unique: It's a two-legged chair. That's right: It's designed so that your center of gravity helps you balance (we found it to be a pretty good workout for your abs and thighs, too). Its lightweight design -- it weighs about a pound -- makes it ideal for camping, backpacking and road-tripping.

At one point or another, you've spilled coffee on yourself while rushing to work. It's no fun, considering that coffee is brewed at about 200 degrees. Now there's a travel mug to prevent such spillage. Designed by Illinois-based Jolex Enterprises, the Brugo Travel Mug lid has three options: Lock, Tip & Cool, and Sip ($14.95 for the Sport Collection and $19.95 for the Executive and Jazz Collections; Turn the dial to Lock, and you can carry your mug without fear of spilling. Turn it to Tip & Cool, and one fluid ounce will transfer to a temperature-control chamber that will cool your beverage to a much more pleasing 150 to 170 degrees. Turn it to Sip, and enjoy!

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