American Nomad Blog
About this blog
American Nomad covers the best of U.S. travel—from vacation deals to festivals, weekend getaways, travel tips, and more. A seasoned traveler and Moon author, Laura is the perfect guide to help discover new gems when traveling domestically.
- A Southern Girl's Wintertime Adventure in Yellowstone
- One Novelist's Odyssey Across America
- Gearing up for a Family Camping Trip
- Mint Juleps and More at Oak Alley Plantation
- Avoiding Identity Theft While on Vacation
- Money-Saving Travel Tips from Nomadic Matt
- Fashion, Fun, and Convenience for the Modern Traveler
- In Search of Irish Museums Across America
- The Inspiring Journey of a Solo Kayaker
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 2
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 1
- Experiencing Yosemite with YExplore
- Two Travel Contests Worth Mentioning
- A Word About the TSA's No-No List
- A Reader's Advice About Airport Security
Holiday Gifts for Your Favorite Traveler: Convenience
Christmas might have come and gone, but as I wrote in the first, second, and third parts of my holiday travel gift guide, it's not too late to find an ideal present for the number-one traveler in your life – especially if you enjoy taking advantage of post-Christmas sales. In fact, though the winter holiday gift-giving season is almost over, you might even discover a few ideas here that would work for another special occasion.
That's why I've spent the last few months road-testing sample products, perusing review copies of various books, and assembling my top picks for a five-part holiday travel gift guide that's suitable for any season. As with Jetpac's list of 50 travel gadget gifts, Jamie Jensen's list of 10 top gifts for road-trippers, and Rand McNally's RV holiday gift guide, my own gift guide features a wide array of inspirational and practical ideas, such as the books that I reviewed in the first part, the language software that I mentioned in the second, and the UV Skinz SPF apparel that I highlighted in the third.
So, without further ado, here's the fourth category – gifts that ensure a bit of convenience and safety for travelers:
Hot Iron Holster ($24.95) – While traveling, it's often difficult to find enough space for ordinary activities. Both male and female travelers, for instance, routinely have trouble freshening up and fixing their hair in tight airplane lavatories, hotel bathrooms with meager counter space, and crowded public restrooms at gyms, workplaces, and dormitories. If your favorite traveler could use a little extra room at such times, consider purchasing the Hot Iron Holster, a relatively new travel product that provides a convenient way to keep “your weapons of beauty” (such as hot styling tools, toiletries, hair products, brushes, and other necessary accessories) safe and organized while on the go. The proprietary silicone material, which is heat-resistant up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, allows the Hot Iron Holster to cling to any smooth, clean, dry surface (whether tile, wood, laminate, granite, metal, glass, vinyl, porcelain, plastic, etc.) without suction cups or adhesives – adding counter space to pedestal sinks, bringing order to cluttered countertops, and making it safe to stow curling irons, flat irons, and hair dryers while they're heating up and cooling down.
Creator Erin Balogh, an emergency room nurse and busy mother of two, invented this handy tool after growing tired of the tedious balancing act required when using hot styling tools at her pedestal sink. “I created this product out of necessity for myself,” she said, “but quickly realized that I was not alone in my frustration. Having a convenient and secure holder for my hot styling tools makes my morning routine go that much smoother.” While the Hot Iron Holster can easily hang on a pedestal sink like Erin's, it offers even more flexibility when hanging from an actual counter or toilet tank; in that way, the hot styling tools can fit snugly in the large pocket while the flap provides a textured surface for spreading out brushes and hair accessories.
The Hot Iron Holster comes in four different colors: pink, purple, white, or black. Personally, I favor the black one, which offers a bit more versatility – as men (like my husband, Dan) don't mind using it for other purposes, such as stowing CD-ROMs, adapters, and other useful items on a car dashboard. The white one isn't a bad choice for a boat, where it can easily hold sunglasses, sunscreen, and the like. No matter what color you choose, though, the Hot Iron Holster is easy to clean with water or rubbing alcohol, and happily, you can easily remove this flexible pouch from any surface, and then stow it compactly while traveling.
If your favorite traveler needs a little more room for his or her tools, products, accessories, or other items, you can always opt for the Hot Iron Holster Professional ($39.99). This roomier option, which comes in pink, purple, or black, offers an extended grip area and larger pocket, allowing for even more stuff while on the go.
Claspies ($14.95 per pair, $25 per two-pack) – For travelers, there's another troubling aspect to cramped places, such as airplane lavatories and public restroom stalls. As indelicate as this might sound, it's sometimes necessary (or, at least, refreshing) to change one's underwear while traveling, and having to undress completely, especially in a tight space, can be a major hassle – not to mention unpleasant in less-than-tidy bathrooms. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, spending hours in a plane, train, car, or bus can leave your favorite traveler feeling less than fresh. Luckily, for female travelers concerned about proper hygiene, there's a new product called Claspies that makes changing underwear relatively trouble-free and offers the flexibility of doing so whenever and wherever she desires.
Essentially bikini-style panties equipped with easy-to-use clasps on the sides, Claspies allow travelers to remain standing and keep their pants and shoes on during the entire changing process. In this way, they'll be less likely to lose their balance or have their feet touch wet or dirty bathroom floors. All that a traveler has to do is roll down her pants or lift her skirt, unclasp her current pair of Claspies, and clasp on a fresh, clean pair. Of course, besides travelers, this relatively comfortable, machine-washable underwear is also a convenient choice for athletes, adventurers, hospital patients, and disabled individuals. Currently, Claspies, which are made of 95% rayon and 5% spandex, come in one shade (black) and various sizes, from extra small to extra large.
Apparently, creator Sabrina Guillebeaux thought of the idea while traveling with her husband for their honeymoon. During the long flight from the United States to Africa, she visited the compact airplane bathroom, noted the wet slippery floor, and realized that a need existed for easy-change underwear that doesn't require balance.
Despite my passion for yoga, I'm not the most graceful of people, especially in tight, slippery places, so strange as it might be to discuss underwear on my travel blog, I've found Claspies to be a welcome addition to my must-pack list. After all, I'm sure they'd prove to be useful in a variety of settings, from campground shower stalls to festival Porta-Potties – not that I've had much occasion to change my underwear at a festival... yet.
Pura Stainless water bottles (prices vary) – As I noted once in a list of my top 10 must-pack items, I always take a refillable water bottle with me on every road trip. “Given my lifelong sensitivity to heat,” I wrote then, “it's imperative that I have a water bottle with me at all times – and that I make sure to fill it with potable water whenever possible.”
If your favorite traveler is also an avid water drinker, then consider giving him or her a Pura Stainless water bottle – an eco-friendly, plastic-free, dishwasher-safe bottle that comes in a variety of sizes and colors. As the name indicates, these bottles are made exclusively of antibacterial stainless steel (including the lower half or underside of each cap), which means that they're free of BPA, PVC, phthalate, and lead, resistant to corrosion and staining, and unable to leach harmful chemicals as plastic bottles do. In addition, they don't require chemical linings as with aluminum bottles. More durable than most other bottles on the market, the Pura Stainless bottles also don't shatter or crack as with those made of glass or plastic, and they're much more puncture-resistant than those made of aluminum.
No wonder they're covered by a limited lifetime warranty, which encompasses leakage, large dents, manufacturing defects, or other failures that occur during normal use. “We do not cover failures due to the bottle being dropped off El Capitan, sucked into a chipper, or run over by a semi nor do we cover worn, scratched, or chipped paint,” the label indicates. “Our warranty is designed to ensure that if you use and care for your bottle in a responsible manner, it will be the last water bottle you ever purchase.” Hence, the company's motto: “One Life... One Bottle.”
Ideal for travelers, recreationists, and other outdoor enthusiasts, Pura Stainless bottles offer a safe, affordable solution for both adults and children. After all, such reusable water bottles help to keep plastic out of the world's many landfills – and might save users a bit of money, too.
Beyond adult bottles, Pura Stainless offers an innovative juvenile line, Pura Kiki, which features colorful modular bottles ($13.99-15.99) that can convert from infant bottles to toddler-ready sippy cups, thereby growing with young travelers. Able to accommodate various nipples or spouts, the Pura Kiki bottles also include internal volume markings, silicone sleeves, and leak-resistant silicone travel covers. In addition, they come in a wide array of colors, such as spring green, aqua blue, and pretty pink.
Happily, the adult bottles come in different sizes and colors, too. The 0.8-liter bottle ($17.99) that I own, for instance, has the natural stainless hue, though it also comes in blue, green, orange, and light purple. Other adult sizes include the 0.6-liter ($15.99) and the 1.2-liter ($24.99). With mine, I particularly like the screw-on loop cap – which seals the bottle well and facilitates carrying it on a belt or backpack – and the wide, chuggable mouth – which makes it easy to fill and clean the bottle. I should point out, though, that, for a clumsy girl like me (see the above Claspies profile), the wide mouth can also result in a bit of spillage; of course, on a hot day, I don't mind that at all.
End-of-the-Year Guide Giveaway
In celebration of the holidays, I'm presenting an end-of-the-year guide giveaway, featuring a prize package that includes signed copies of all four of my Moon travel guides (Moon New Orleans, Moon Michigan, Moon Florida Keys, and Moon Baja RV Camping), a self-guided audio ghost tour of the French Quarter (produced by Audio Ambler, a subsidiary of my travel company, Wandering Soles), and one of 12 different eBooks or hardcover versions published by Patagonia Books. To enter the contest, simply answer the following question: “What's the best holiday gift you've ever received?” Let me know, too, which Patagonia title you'd most like to read. You can do this by leaving a comment below this post or emailing me at laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com by 11:59 p.m. PST on December 31, 2012. The winner will be chosen at random from all entries received – and announced on this blog in early January.
In the meantime, stay tuned for the final installment of my holiday travel gift guide – and naturally, I hope you're having a wonderful holiday season – wherever you happen to be!
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below, contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com, or connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Photo / Text © 2012 Laura Martone