With luggage being rethought by crowd-funded entrepreneurs, and technology infusing all aspects of travelers’ essentials, we surfed around and tested some of the latest products to bring you fresh picks for the traveler in your life.
Stash and Go Travel
Have a loved one whose idea of travel is returning with more than they left with? Meet the Matador Transit30, a spacious, sleekly designed weatherproof duffle that folds up into almost nothing. Our reviewer, a millennial gymrat who carried it to work and also threw it in a rollaboard, notes, “It feels very good quality for how tiny it folds into. Very impressive design and the bag itself is gorgeous.” We too are impressed with the puncture-resistant, 30D Cordura ripstop nylon fabric with taped seams and waterproof zippers because this bag costs only $49.99. But if you’ve got something to hide, our reviewer adds, “My only negative feedback would be that the fabric is very thin so you can almost see into the bag.”
Luggage Keeps Rolling Along
Airlines have reduced allowable carry-on sizes, and 21” and smaller rollaboards are the new standard. Maybe it’s time to gift everyone in the family with a new bag that facilitates travel.
This season’s favorites? The LS Magnetousa three-wheeled luggage scooter ($147) has a kick scooter which folds down from a standard rollaboard frame so you can scoot through airports. Scooter style has really caught on, and ToysrUs, Target and other stores are selling kids’ versions with characters.
Go big budget with a motorized, smart Modobag ($1,095), a sit-on, battery-powered 22” suitcase that is easily steered with a touch control dashboard. A bonus: two USB charging ports to top up your own devices, and GPRS-GSM real-time tracking that allows you to find it with a phone app.
Neatniks will love Oregami Luggage ($299), a sleek rollaboard comprised of fold-out tray compartments that enable you to organize your gear, then spread it open and display it for easy access. Families can assign trays to each child then unzip them and distribute on arrival.
For the Kids
Stickyscapes is a fun series of large format, accordion-pleated picture books that unfold to reveal 4-foot-long, double-sided cityscapes of some of the world’s most beautiful cities. Choose from the original Stickyscapes Paris, Stickyscapes London or Stickyscapes New York and you’ll find 100 reusable stick-ons that kids can add wherever they want. In the London book, for example, there’s a durable knight in armor that can be adhered to the Tower of London page. In Paris, kids can put the guillotine sticker or the Smart car one on top of the Arc de Triomphe, in Sacre Coeur or at the Sorbonne. Says our reviewer, grandmother and Francophile, “Tres charmant!” Says her 7-year-old grandson, “You can play with it but don’t use any stickers.”
Outdoorsy kids may prefer Stickyscapes Polar Adventures or Stickyscapes Tropical Adventures with 100 stickers each to match the environment. We love that each sticker has a description of what it represents, a fact or two, and the image’s historical or cultural significance. Stickyscapes are lightweight, easy to carry and very durable — ideal for travel. They’re available at booksellers at $14.95 each, recommended for ages 6+.
Take the Sweat out of Commuting
Gift the lifestyle sustainer in the house with a more pleasant and productive commute. At Van Moof Cycles in Brooklyn, a fun and efficient bicycle is the answer.
“We want to bring the traditional Dutch style of commuting to a higher level of innovation,” says Taco Carlier, Van Moof co-founder, “to remove the barriers to commuting by bike in cities around the world.” Environmentally loving, fitness giving, smile inducing, their new electric bikes also make that commute sweat-free by doing up to 80% of the work for you. The latest model, VanMoof Electrified S, carries enough battery life within its hip tubular frame to ride about 120 kms without a recharge. It can be locked with your phone app, and found by its internal GPS system, in case some rascal steals it.
More basic models feature an internal locking system, lightweight tubular frame, broad tires, comfy seat and integrated gearing that powers surprisingly fast bikes down city streets. The Standard bike, more appropriately called the High Standards bike, costs $748 and prices range up to the top-of-the-line Electrified S at $2498. The Carliers began their company in the wonderful, bike-loving city of Amsterdam. Still determined to improve the commuting business, Van Moof offers 24/7 support, free delivery of almost fully assembled bikes and quality that is, simply put, built to last. Priceless.
Light on Your Feet
Footware is a big concern; we’ve all suffered from the wrong choice of shoes at the end of a long day’s sightseeing or hiking. So, when we heard Altra, a well-respected maker of running shoes, had applied running technologies to casual walking shoes, we wanted to try them. Notes our senior reviewer, “I’ve been traversing New York in a pair of Altra Desert Boots and enjoying the comfort they offer. They are made of a light suede-like leather – great for packing – and are soft and easy on the feet, with a running shoe footbed that provides comfort and stability. The zero drop design eliminates elevation in the heel and offers equal cushioning in both heel and toe,” he writes. “A further design strength is the wide toe box that allows toes to spread, welcome and harmonious with my yoga practice.” They come in Navy, Black or Cream in mens and womens sizes; $120.
Be Picnic Ready
“When the little red pouch arrived with a very tiny fold-up travel blanket inside, we fell in love with this gift,” says our mom reviewer. Big enough for two adults to share and made of durable and puncture proof nylon, the Matador Pocket Blanket ($29.99) is good for an impromptu diaper changing station, roadside tire repair platform, picnics on damp fields and moments of sunbathing on the sand. “Small and light, with red stitching highlighting the necessary folds to get it back into its pocket, this sheet is more about cleanliness than it is about warmth,” she says, adding, “Very handy with kids in tow.”
For give back presents that teach children why giving is better than receiving, please visit our alternative holiday gift guide.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.