Archive for the ‘Cool Gear’ Category

(Photo courtesty of XShot)


My first visit to Paris was an impromptu business trip. Due to meetings scheduled throughout the day, my only sightseeing time was very early in the morning. This worked out fine, owing to my extreme jet lag, but I encountered a couple of frustrations. (1) It’s really, really cold before the sun comes up in Paris in March. (2) It was my first time in Paris. I wanted a photo of myself in front of the Eiffel Tower, cheesy as that may be, but there was no one around to take it for me. I spent considerable time trying to balance my camera on ledges and benches to get a shot of myself. Sadly, this was before digital cameras, so I wasted a lot of film trying to get a decent photo.


We’ve all been in that situation as travelers. You’re alone or somewhere remote and can’t find anyone to take a photo for you. That’s why, when I saw the XShot Camera Extender I thought it was a terribly clever and useful product. It’s similar to a tripod, but quicker to set up and more compact to carry. Simply attach your digital camera to the XShot Camera Extender, set your self-timer, extend the device and get your shot. The XShot Camera Extender is lightweight and easy to control. It allows you to get that photo without having to ask others to help. Obviously, this is not the product for you if you use a larger, heavy camera. The XShot has a weight limit of 1.25 lbs., so it coordinates perfectly with, say, a Canon Powershot or Sony Cybershot.  If you’re traveling solo, this is definitely the accessory for you.


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Have you ever noticed how noisy planes are?  If you’re lucky enough to be sitting near an engine, you get all the mechanical noise.  There’s also the noise generated by your fellow passengers, overhead bins being opened and closed and the sounds of electronic gear brought on board by others.  Once I was seated near to a child whose parents thought it was okay to let him play a video game with the sound on for hours.  Put an end to the madness.  Get yourself a pair of noise-canceling headphones.  They’ll muffle ambient sounds and allow you to enjoy a much more peaceful flight.


I tried several different brands of headphones but ultimately settled on the Sennheiser PXC 300.  They are foldable and compact, which makes them easy to stow in my carry-on bag.  The battery life is fantastic.  I rarely have to change the batteries.  They plug into airline consoles if you want to watch the in-flight movie and plug into your iPod if you’d rather listen to music. I generally prefer to just read a book while in flight, so I simply turn on the headphones and enjoy the silence.   Some noise-canceling headphones have ear buds, which are great for really blocking out noise, but I find them uncomfortable on all but the shortest flights.  I prefer Sennheiser’s cushioned, over-ear headsets.  They’re extremely light and don’t hurt my ears.  Also, these headsets are petite, so you don’t look like you’re about to DJ the plane’s disco.  When it’s time to stow the electronic gear, the headset folds up for storage in a small, padded case.   These noise-canceling headphones have become my most essential carry-on item.  They really make my flight more pleasant.

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(Photo courtesy of BottleWise)


So, you’re going on a trip to Napa Valley, Australia, or maybe Italy.  Somewhere that you’re sure to indulge in some wine tasting.  You’d love to bring a bottle or two home with you, but that pesky 3 oz. carry-on limit means you’re stuck shipping wine in your checked luggage.  How do you properly pack it so that it arrives in one piece?    Check out the BottleWise Duo wine travel bag.


This wine travel bag is well padded and securely holds two bottles of your favorite vintage in separate compartments.  Each compartment is liquid tight, guarding against any disastrous leaks or spills.  Simply tuck this bag into the center of your checked luggage and your bottles will arrive safe and sound at your destination.  If you have more than two bottles you’d like to pack, additional inserts are also available.


But why the fancy packaging?  Why can’t I just roll my wine bottles up in a sweater and call it a day?  Well, that’s a cheaper way to transport your wine, but it really tempts fate.  One tumble onto the tarmac or mishandling by a security screener and your luggage may take on a lovely Zinfandel-colored hue.  Don’t risk it.  Packing your wine into a case designed specifically for that purpose will give you peace of mind and an intact bottle to enjoy when you arrive home.

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Travel in style with a vintage travel-themed luggage tag from Linnea Design.  I’ve had one for years now and still love it.  Not only has it held up incredibly well, despite being tossed around by airport security who knows how many times, but I just think it looks chic.

The tags are available in over 30 designs, featuring a wide variety of destinations and graphics.  At $5 or $6 apiece, they are affordable, always a good thing in this day and age.

(Small photos courtesy of Linnea Design)

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