Tools of the Travel Trade
is a tool-using animal. . .Without tools (she) is nothing, with tools (she) is
I don't think Thomas Carlyle will mind the liberty of paraphrase since it diminishes
not a whit the wisdom of his words. His century was just less sensitive to political
correctness. I list here a half dozen fine tools for travel and their various
uses. Simple as they may be this selection can make your packing and traveling
less stressful and more pleasant.
find any of these items go online go to shopping.yahoo.com,
and type in the name of the desired item in the "Find Product" space,
click again and choices to delight the shopper's soul will appear.
Luggage Rack: Every hotel room has one. Doesnt that tell you something?
It took me years for the penny to drop and now I have one at home to make easier
all the packing and unpacking I do. Guests also welcome the rack when they are
the ones with the luggage. The racks range in price from $15 to near $90. Find
the chrome-with-black-straps familiar from hotel stays in the middle range. The
more costly are of décor-conscious assorted woods with fancier straps.
Some even come with bedside trays to increase usefulness.
can be had with a high back (to protect the wall) but I find the flat ones are
more versatile in the size of bag they can hold properly balanced. The racks fold
up and disappear under the bed or in a closet between uses.
Laundry Rack: These tubular contraptions when open are like a giant X with
some three feet of hanging space on two bars (40 garments it is said.) The racks
are sold for hanging your freshly ironed clothes or for party-guest coats. Why
no one mentions what a boon they are at packing (and unpacking) time I don't know.
I, for one, do far more packing than I do ironing. The racks fold to about two
inches thick and at less that two feet in width slip neatly into the closet alongside
your hanging duds.
packing time nears I stand my Great X up and begin. On one bar I hang the Must-Go's,
on the other the Possibles. I swap around a bit, cut the field, and start the
When I return home the "hangable" stuff comes out
of the suitcase and back on the rack where I can check what needs cleaning or
mending or button attention before it all goes back in the closet. (That's the
ideal; truth be told sometimes they just hang there for a few days until jet lag
folding racks range in price from about $18 to $30. The more expensive might be
heavier gauge metal tubing but I have the cheap version and it works just fine.
Tray: You might be surprised how useful this container is. Available variously
in cloth or leather (even embossed crocodile) it travels flat but when its corners
are snapped together it becomes a small basket (about 6x8 inches or a square)
to keep "your stuff" (earrings, keys, lipstick, assorted coins, etc)
segregated from "not your stuff" on hotel countertops.
travel tray also keeps anything from rolling behind immovable chests or tumbling
into wastebaskets. My basic black one, about $10, came from Magellan's.
The leather ones, smacking a bit of male hubris, go for $25 to $50. Yahoo will
get you to any of them.
Credential Holder: If you have been to as many races and auto shows as
I have, you have an astounding collection of clear plastic sleeves that hang from
a lanyard around your neck.
I have found a new use for them in these days
of troubled travel when your ticket and photo ID are in constant demand.
of thrusting these into a pocket or a zippered compartment of a carry-on and fumbling
for them yet again I assemble all that is germane to the trip - ticket, ID, boarding
card, baggage checks if any - and put them in the credential holder where they
are readily accessible, easily scrutinized and not easily misplaced. I have thought
of adding: "Deliver to
" and "Likes chocolate milk" on
an instructions card but levity isn't welcome at departure gates these days.
recycled credential holder has received grateful acclaim from ID checkers and
airline personnel as well as piqued the interest of some power-suited women you
might not think would considering wearing ID around their necks. But anything
for convenience and time conservation these days. (Anyway, I have enough lanyards
to color coordinate them with what I'm wearing. So there.)
perfectly plain, unprinted, credential holders seem to be available only in mass
quantities but type in that phrase in the Yahoo shopping search engine and you'll
find for $4 and $5 credential holders with MOPAR and Ford Racing logos respectively
on them. Tip:The Ford logo is smaller.
Toothbrush Holder: No, this isnt in case you share brunch with a fugitive
dolphin. This gadget may be my favorite of all time because it elicits a smile
whenever I use it. The plastic clamshell-like device attaches to the bathroom
mirror with suction cups and keeps your toothbrush in a clean, out-of-the-way
place. And protects it for travel as well.
great thing is it pops open as you pull the brush free and remains agape while
you tend to the pearlies. Then you pop the brush back in place and the holder
closes with a decisive snap. (So my threshold of amusement is low - you try it
the Flipper trail through Yahoo
or go directly to Magellan's.
The price is about $8 for two in assorted colors. Trust me, you'll love it.
Travel Duct Tape: What would life be like with out WD-40, duct tape and
paper clips? Scarcely worth the trouble. Unfortunately for travelers duct tape
comes in sizes unfriendly to portability. And rolling off a carrying size is time
consuming and not neat. Magellan's, those lovely travel folks, have done the task
for you with coming up with a compact (no vacant center) about the size of half
a Ballpark frank. The cost, about $5.
use in duct tape on the road? Quick lasting mends of ripped out hems, for instance,
faster than a needle and thread, emergency lint removal; patching luggage, whether
skewered, ripped or zipper-challenged; taping something you want to conceal to
the underside of chairs or drawers; repairing ripped shoes; patching the pockets
of jeans; repairing a much-used travel guide etc etc. (There are entire books
on the uses of duct tape, which appears to be useful for everything but taping
tape can also be used for taping together those hotel curtains that refuse to
close entirely and let blinking neon signs play across your eyelids. So you are
staying in a flea bag and forgot the eyeshades. Smile, you've got the duct tape.
(Hey, you could even tape a washcloth over your eyes, but beware - your eyebrows
are at risk.)
not tools a delight?