By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor
This year’s spring break and summer travel season ushers in yet another impressive assortment of innovative gadgets and cleverly-designed gear that makes it easier to get from point A to point B—and more enjoyable when you are there. Here’s a roundup of some of my personal fav’s sure to make you joyful while you jet set:
Slingbox (www.Slingbox.com) - $99.99-$299.99
Never miss an episode of your favorite TV program again! With a Slingbox connected to a home cable box, families, businessmen, students and all other TV-loving travelers can stay connected to wherever home is and take their full television viewing experience on-the-go. This incredible device turns a laptop, tablet, or smartphone into a portable television ensuring you have unencumbered access to your personal entertainment. There are no monthly subscription fees or geographic boundaries. Wherever you have an Internet connection, Slingbox will deliver your favorite live local sports, TV shows, local news, on-demand and DVR content to the device of your choice. Slingbox also continues to expand the possibilities of the “TV Everywhere” lifestyle with added new functionality that makes it easy to view photos or videos from your smart phone on your home TV or on any connected device. There are three different versions of the Slingbox with different platforms and pricing.
The Commute by BlueAnt Wireless (www.MyBlueAnt.com) - $99.00
For anyone who spends a lot of time in their car, making calls or texting while driving can be very dangerous and actually illegal in many places. The Commute from Blue Ant Wireless, a leader in Bluetooth technology, readily solves this problem. It’s a voice-activated, hands-free car care kit--the only Bluetooth device on the market that allows users to send, read and reply to messages totally hands-free. The secret? The Commute allows drivers to make and receive calls through iPhone’s Siri and Google Voice. Among other functions, drivers can dial a contact from their phonebook or answer a call on the road simply by saying, “launch voice control,” and incoming caller names are conveniently announced, eliminating the need to glance at your phone check caller ID.
WineCruzer 8-Pack PRO (www.WineCruzer.com) - $280.00
Here’s an item for the true wine connoisseur: the WineCruzer 8-Pack Pro wine bottle carrier. Whether the oenophile chooses to bring their own bottles to restaurants or on vacation, share some with loved ones miles and miles away, or visit their favorite wineries, this is a must-have travel companion. The WineCruzer can help aficionados guard their vintages against the perils of travel and prevent accelerated aging of wine since the PRO is resistant to UV rays and maintains a constant temperature. This sophisticated wine carrier is made of ultra high-strength polypropylene copolymer resin, is watertight, resistant to corrosion and impact damage, and also boasts an automatic pressure release valve. Of course, the WineCruzer comes with wheels and pull-out handle to make transporting the tasty load a breeze. Now you have a mini-wine cellar for the road!
Chloe Dao Carry On Luggage Set Set (http://store.nuo-tech.com) - $159.99
This Chloe Dao Carry On Trolley 21-in and Satchel 2-Piece Set will let you travel with fabulous form and function. Designed by Project Runway winner Chloe Dao, this dynamic luggage duo will ensure you have those essentials neat and organized for those shorter jaunts that don’t require large checked baggage. The Trolley fits most overhead compartments and features inline skate wheels, ergonomic telescoping handle, 2 inch expansion zipper and a lightweight design. The matching Laptop Satchel features Chloe’s signature exterior “kangaroo” organizer pockets, 14” handle drop for maximum comfort, plenty of interior pockets all your personal accessories and fits most 15.6” laptops. This exclusive 2-piece set’s bold, fashion forward style and smart design make it an ideal traveling companion for work or play.
Travlpro Crew 9 Rolling Tote (www.TravelPro.com) - $125.99
Crew 9 is Travelpro’s super collection of premium luggage that includes Rollaboards, Totes, and Spinners. The long-standing baggage choice of flight crews and frequent travelers, the latest Crew collection is a leap forward in innovation, lightweight durability, and effortless mobility. The Rolling Tote features the iconic PowerScope Extension Handle, which minimizes wobble and maximizes durability. The Contour Grip on Spinners provide comfort and easy maneuverability. The Rolling Tote has been designed specifically for the frequent business and leisure traveler with performance features that work smartly together to make every aspect of the trip easier so you can focus on the experience and not the hassle!
hipKey (www.Store.Apple.com) - $89.99
Wouldn’t it be nice to keep track of your luggage while it’s en route or find it quickly if it gets misplaced? Now you can! hipKey is a small, crescent-shaped app-enabled tracking accessory that attaches to any of your valuable items, such as luggage, handbags, keys, a child, etc. Using Bluetooth 4.0 technology, the device connects wirelessly to an iPhone (4S or 5) or an iPad (3rd Gen., 4th Gen., or mini), using an application that provides four unique modes for keeping track of your valuables: Find Me Mode, Motion Mode, Alarm Mode and Child Mode. The device has a range up to 50 meters, and once outside that range (or when the device detects motion), a 90 db alarm is sounded and accompanied by a clear vibration. The small compact design is durable and makes the hipKey easy to carry.
PortaPocket Hands-Free Carrying Case (www.PortaPocket.com) - $25-$35
Fashion-savvy solutions for safety and convenience bring you peace of mind and confidence while you go about your day. One of these is the super comfy, versatile, and stylish problem-solver known as the PortaPocket Carrying case. Now, you can lose the worry, not your stuff plus you can wear this posh pocket on its own, or with a chic purse or bag, to keep more important items at hand. To keep your personal belongings safe and accessible, these carrying cases can be wrapped around a thigh, calf, ankle, arm or waist. They are easily detachable, interchangeable, and easy to use as well as moisture and sweat resistant. The carrying cases are big enough to fit items like your identification card, credit/debit cards, keys, cell phones, lipstick, tampons, iPods, cameras, passports, medical devices and more.
Solano 3300 XtraLite Dryer (www.Ulta.com) - $159
Traveling light is key for a hassle-free experience, and that includes having all your beauty style aids at hand without being weighed down with bulky equipment. Perfect for a carry on, the Solano 3300 XtraLite Dryer is as light as a water bottle but packs a whopping 1,800 watts of high-performance power. Tourmaline adds shine, smooths hair, and minimizes flyaways while Far Infrared technology gently dries the hair from the inside out. Now you’ll save room in your baggage for those fabulous fashion finds and souvenirs you’ve collected on your trip.
EatSmart Precision Voyager Luggage Scale (www.Amazon.com) - $19.95
Speaking of keeping baggage poundage in check, the EatSmart Precision Voyager Luggage Scale is a wonderful ultraportable, lightweight travel accessory designed for all air travelers--from casual vacationers to frequent flyers. With the handy portable tool travelers will never again be forced to rearrange their luggage at check-in or pay unexpected baggage fees. The scale clips easily onto the handle of your suitcase or bag, and EatSmart's two-handed SmartGrip design allows you to comfortably and safely lift heavy bags. Once the weight registers in either pounds or kilograms, the scale will beep and instantly display on the LCD screen. Thanks to a compact, durable design, the Precision Voyager is easily stored in the traveler’s suitcase and available for the trip home.
eScale Digital Luggage Scale by Hey USA (www.Wayfair.com) - $20
Another lightweight travel accessory that helps you save money by avoiding the airlines' overweight baggage fees is the ergonomically designed eScale. Constructed of metal, this accurate scale is portable and compact. With ease, the scale can be reset to weigh several bags in a short amount of time to make sure you have extra time to repack your luggage or just weigh the baggage and go. With a capacity to weigh luggage up to 110 pounds, its strong metal hook holds the bag and a red light illuminates when the measurement is complete, providing digital accuracy with an easy-to-read, blue-black display.
Luggage Belt/Tag by Lug (www.Wayfair.com) - $20.00-$20.99
The Luggage Belt/Tag by Lug is a 3-in-1 pack for travelers that offers a matching belt, reusable pouch, and luggage identification tag and envelope. Its heavy-duty construction and matching colored tags make it easy to locate your baggage on the claim carousel while the clear pouch facilitates a quick trip through security. You can even customize your luggage/belt pack by color, with available options including rose pink, grass green, ocean teal, fog grey and sunset orange. Whether it is for you or a traveler in your life, this is an ideal, practical, and highly fashionable luggage accessory.
Pocket XShot Camera Extender (www.XShot.com) - $29.95
The Pocket XShot is a must-have camera accessory that is perfect for travelers and anyone who has ever been left out of a photograph because they were the one taking it, and for those who love taking “selfie” photos and like to include background imagery. The XShot is a specially designed, telescopic monopod that you hold in your hand. A universal tripod mount allows you to easily attach a compact digital camera or iPhone to the XShot. Set the self timer photograph or video mode on your camera, extend the telescopic arm from 6.5"-30.5", smile, point and shoot! You will no longer have to ask a stranger to take a picture or awkwardly hold your device at arm’s length to get a shot. With this nifty gadget, you can capture more background and scenery as well as be able to capture unique angles and take better self-portraits.
Sphinx Personal Lounger (www.CastleAndBay.com) - $49.95
Few products on the market allow a person to be able to relax, read, or sunbathe lying in the prone position AND are versatile enough to be used face up as a chair or meditation cushion, a table tray or as a kickboard in the water. The multi-functional Sphinx is also equipped with a media holder--a strap that holds book pages open or a Kindle securely. It also features a cup holder and also a small cooler-size space for snacks or a storage place for your keys, sunglasses, and cell phone. The ergonomic, uber-comfortable Sphinx will surely enhance your lounging experience, both outdoors and in. Weighing only two pounds, the two-piece Sphinx Personal Lounger takes just 12 breaths to inflate, and deflates to the size of a loaf of bread, making it a viable travel accessory.
Whether travelling for business or pleasure, everyone wants to keep their devices powered up but without charging solutions that weigh them down. Here are three perfectly portable and powerful mobile device chargers that will ensure your litany of go- gadgets remain functional:
mophie Powerstation Duo Portable Charger (www.Mophie.com) - $ 99.95
The mophie Powerstation Duo is a lightweight, external 6000mAh battery that packs a punch. With dual-charging ports, it has the ability to charge not just one, but two USB-enabled devices, including smartphones, iPod devices and tablets, simultaneously! Users can keep their gadgets powered up through long flights, airport layovers, and road trips without suffering from the red-bar blues. It has a built-in short circuit, overcharge protection, four-light “invisible” LED indicator and an outer metal band. It is also rechargeable for over 500 cycles.
ZAGGsparq Backup Battery (www.Zagg.com) - $39.99-$99.99
Another smart mobile charging solutions is ZAGGsparq—a convenient and stylish portable backup battery that makes traveling and charging your myriad of devices on-the-go a breeze. Built-in prongs allow the ZAGGsparq to double as a wall charger and eliminate the need for an extra power adapter to keep your digital life running. The ZAGGsparq provides between one and four charges for a typical handheld device, such as cell phones, smartphones, and tablets (depending on the ZAGGsparq model which includes the ZAGGsparq 1220, ZAGGsparq 3100, and ZAGGsparq 6000), and ZAGG's 2.1A output for ultra-fast charging (on select ZAGGsparq models) is up to four times faster than a standard USB charger.
Datexx PowerNow USB Rechargeable Battery Charger (www.Wayfair.com) - $18.70
The Datexx PowerNow portable and economical USB rechargeable battery charger that can fully power your iPhone, smartphone, or other USB devices and still have power left. It allows you to travel without worrying about access to power outlets—both finding one and fighting for it once you do. Weighing a mere 3 ounces, the Datexx PowerNow USB Rechargeable Battery Charger is lightweight and easy to carry in the smallest of spaces, making it perfect for any trip. It has a 2400mAh lithium ion rechargeable battery and instant USB power-plug so you can talk without waiting.
"The Luxe List" Executive Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Submissions are accepted at www.LuxeListReviews.com. Follow her on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/LuxeListEditor and Facebook here: www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList.
***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***