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Six budget-friendly Mother's Day gifts for travelers

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With Mother’s Day on the horizon, it’s important to consider gifts that will do more than get stuffed in a drawer. If your mom is a traveler there are plenty of gifts that can add more zest to a trip and make a travel experience easier or more memorable. And some of them are handy for use at home, too.

A new item from one travel company is something I would have used many times over had I known it existed.

TravelSmart’s Travel Wonder Vase caught my eye and made me wish I had brought something like it with me when I visited Rome a decade ago. We stayed at a hotel on the Piazza Fiore, where vendors sold unbelievably gorgeous fresh flower every morning. They were cheap. If I had had a vase, I would have bought new flowers every morning during my stay.

Now, that problem is solved. The Travel Wonder Vase is a watertight polymer sleeve that is reusable, unbreakable and stores flat for easy packing. When you arrive at your destination you soak the vase in a sink in warm water to make it malleable and then mold it into a vase shape. Think of a plastic baggie on steroids. When you have the look you want, run cold water over the vase to solidify the shape. When it’s time to move on, soak the vase in warm water to soften and flatten. Genius, I think. Although I haven’t tried it, the concept makes sense and I’m anxious to give it a try.

I’ve been too many places over the years where exotic flowers could have been mine for pennies. But I didn’t have a vase. Or two.

The Travel Wonder Vase is cheap. Just $5.95 for a 4-inch by 8-inch version and $6.95 for a 6-inch by 11-inch vase. And TravelSmart is offering free shipping on all domestic orders.

Of course, when the vase caught my eye I had to peruse the complete list of travel gifts and found a few more that would be perfect for Mother’s Day. Maybe my children will take the hint.

Here are five more suggestions from TravelSmart’s collection that would be perfect gifts for a traveling mom.

1. The Ultimate Travel Pillow: Inflatable with a soft cover, it has a cord to connect it to your seatbelt to keep it in place while you’re dozing. The pillow is wide at the top, where you place your head, but narrows farther down along the seat belt. ($25.95)

2. Silk Double Eyeglass case is a smart-looking pouch in red and black or pink and black with room for reading glasses in one compartment and sunglasses in the other. There’s also room for credit cards, cash, keys and more. ($14.95)

3. The Palm Purse is wallet-sized with two zippered pouches roomy enough for cash, credit cards, keys and a small cell phone. Hold it in your palm and the Velcro strap wraps around your wrist. Great for the gym, cruising, dancing or walking your dog. ($8.95)

4. TravelSmart’s document organizer is designed to hang around your neck kind of like a necklace. Comes in red or black with a pen. I use something similar and have found it invaluable, keeping my passport, boarding pass and tickets in one place and at the ready for going through security lines. Many times, the pen in my “necklace pouch” was just what I needed when trying to fill out customs forms on return from international destinations. Not as pretty as a diamond, but much more useful. ($10.95)

5. TravelSmart sells Baggallini’s Zip-Out Shopping Bag for a pretty good price: $19.95. This is one of my favorite travel accessories. The bag folds inside its’ 7-inch by 5-inch flat pocket for packing inside your suitcase. Then, after you’ve bought souvenirs, you open it up and have a piece strong enough to be used as checked luggage. The medium size opens to 17 by 17 by 6 inches. It’s sturdy and made of nylon, so consider using it for dirty laundry and put your new treasures inside your hard-sided luggage.

You can take a look at these and other items for travelers at www.travelsmartnewsletter.com.

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