The annual Travel Goods showcase in Las Vegas this year brought forth plenty of new luggage and carry-on solutions as well as new ways to rest on a plane. But the show, which collects buyers and manufacturers in this $31.1 billion market, also highlighted solutions for things not always identified as problems. Here’s a run down of what’s coming to an airline seat near you.
Heys Transparent Luggage. For those who have no shame in showing off their underwear or fur-lined handcuffs, Heys Luggage offers a translucent three-piece spinner luggage collection that lets the light shine through. The polycarbonate container comes in soft transparent hues. Each piece (comes in 21-, 26- and 30-inch sizes) has a TSA-approved combination lock and can be expanded by 20 percent through a zipper system. The items start at $299.99 or $1,019.99 for the 3-piece see-through set.
The EazyCushion. This item becomes a tool for better middle seat management. We have all been there – the sleeper leaning into us as we fly; the overweight seat mate who bulges deep into our personal space; the middle seat moment with inconsiderate seat mates who take up all the arm space. EazyCushion is a new twist on an old problem. Made from 3.5 inches of sturdy memory foam its shape allows passengers to insert it on their side of the armrest with a personal ledge to use an uncontested arm rest. The rest of the cushion serves as a kind of air barrier between the seats to discourage creeping arms and shoulders from neighbors. The 13- by 13-inch, 15-ounce item easily fits into carry-on luggage and can also serve as a lumbar cushion or extra pillow when needed, as well. The patented EazyCushion sells for $23.95.
The FootFidget. This contraption goes far beyond digit spinning to help nervous nellies get over their fears of flying. The passenger places a foot on the bouncy contraption on the floor and can jiggle away tension. But that’s not all. The FootFidget also serves as an exercise implement for long plane flights. The fidgety, bouncy, repetitive activity actually improves circulation and staves of VTB??? The Traveler FootFidget retails for $60.
The Airhook. The Airhook actually packs plenty of purpose for a what it is. The Airhook is a plastic widget of screws and forms that affixes to the airline tray table and holds your beverage as well as your phone or iPad with easy adjustment. If good things come in small boxes, this is a powerful convenience tool that is useful on planes, in cars, even on kitchen counters. It folds into wallet-sized dimensions and weighs about as much as a poor man’s bill fold. The Airhook retails for $30.
The Igloo.The Igloo Travel Pillow was this year’s top choice for those ever-present airplane neck pillows. The red and black memory foam pillow looks like something you might wear after a rear-end car accident. The cushion completely wraps the neck in 360-degree comfort, supporting the weight of the head and offering strength of support around the neck muscles. The cushioning reaches half way up the head to add some sound protection and privacy. The item comes with a lumbar cushion that can be used for the seat back or arm rest, and a handy carrying pouch that doubles as a bib with a pocket to support hands and arms. The IglooforTravel pillow is made in Canada and costs $40.
Solite Monreale.This bag is the embodiment of that great idea you had 30 years ago but never put into action. It’s a 22-inche carryon spinner made of pure polycarbonate with a patented folding formula that flattens the case into mere inches for storage. The durable case has a TSA-certified integrated combination lock and waterproof lining, all starting for $199.
The Potty Pack.This is a traveler’s johnnie on the spot for clean bathroom use on the road. Packets sell in single and multiple volumes and contain four feet of two-ply toilet tissue, we wipes with aloe vera and vitamin E, a hand wipe, hand sanitizer and that always elusive seat cover. The company that makes these handy packs is called Air Travel Safe and also makes packs for sun and sting relief, menstruation emergencies, hangovers, ticks, first aid and just about any situation that might have a purse-sized “I wish I had a xxxxx” attached while traveling.
The Barrier Method.This travel mask is an attractive scarf accessory that is perfect for those moments when air pollution, repulsive smells and second-hand cigarette smoke threaten to spoil your comfort. An adjustable breathing mask is affixed to the attractive scarf accessory allowing travelers to keep their sneezes to themselves and other people’s illnesses away. The items run $60.
Pocket Socks. Sometimes the simplest of concepts makes the most sense. Pocket Socks may be that concept. It offers the perfect place to stash your cash, keys and cards without concern for pickpockets, theft or busy hands. The knee-high socks are made from machine-knitted soft cotton and come in a variety of patters for men and women. A hand-sewn zipper pocket keeps things hidden away and the skin protected from the irritation that comes with sticking items in your regular socks. Pocket Socks sells for $22.
For Serious Travelers in Search of Carry-on Solutions:
Fugu Rollux. This darling of the Kickstarter generation has blossomed into one of the stars of the luggage show as a sleep carry-on that doubles in volume space at the push of some buttons to become a full-sized luggage accessory. It rolls on four wheels and contains charger pockets. The addition this year of a go-bag kicks the item out of the competition. The lightweight carry-on is made of the same durable, non-scuff fabric and, when not rolling along attached to the arm of the rollie, can transform into a desk with a cup holder for stealing some work time while waiting for the plane. It removes from the set-up and can turn into an over the shoulder computer bag or brief case as well. The Rollux is still running on Kickstarter starting at $249 with the accompanying Minilux available for $119.
The Travel Mat by Thermalay. This item may be a little unwieldy in size but can be a lifesaver on an Economy Class seat on a long-haul flight. The New Zealand made product is a comfortable, padded, egg-crate mat that runs the length of the body from the neck to the knees with the perfect formulation of padding points to keep the back aligned properly and make sleeping on a flight possible. The item rolls up into something the size of a pillow perhaps, weighing 2.2 pounds and easily attaching to a piece of luggage or a back pack to count as part of a single carry-on. The two-inch memory foam pad comes with a neck support element that connects side to said and holds the head in place. Or these flaps can flip to the back to become extra support for spine and lumbar areas. The bamboo cover keeps the item breathing and cool and especially convenient for airport long layovers, when it can turn hard seats or flooring into a bed. Prices run $89.
The Solgaard Lifepack. While this backpack looks like any other, look closely and you can practically smell its secret: ocean. The item is made from plastic bottles and debris pulled from the hundreds of miles of waste strands building on ocean surfaces around the world. Every bag pulls five more pounds of waste from the ocean. Backpacks come with solar energy chargers that allow wearers to plug in and charge devices without using the grid – although it will likely take four to five hours of constant sun to fully charge a cell phone. The company’s founder Adrian Solgaard of Solgaard Designis adding an assortment of planet-worthy accessories to the portfolio, including suitcases, watches and more made of this debris pulling fabric. Through each purchase, oceans get just a little bit cleaner. The Lifepack sells for $125.
Walter + Ray Onboard Organizer and Bag. This company first came to light in 2017 when the Bendy, a technicolor Gumby of sorts with eyes that light up and appendages that go bend this way and that, came on the scene. The six-inch item was meant to hold a smartphone, an iPad, keys, what have you and was largely ignorable until Bed Bath and Beyond starting putting them on display. They flew off the shelves and lit the way for a variety of baggage innovations from this company, all wrapped into a neat day pack solution. The Travel Bag is a lightweight, waterproof and durable backpack that has pockets and places for everything needed for the road. It has a compartment for computer and/or iPad, glasses, smartphone, books, papers and even a Bendy. A hidden zipper pocket stores money and passport. A tempered, leak-proof pull out pack for cold foods stores yogurt and sandwiches. There is a place for an arm pad that can be included and a place for the Tab Sleeve – a purse full of handy compartments that can be pulled out the pack and tightly looped over the seat tray for easy access to devices. The pack does not forget the RFID blocking for front access pockets, convenient pockets for charging devices, clear TSA-friendly bag for liquids, key holder, backpack straps that hide, shoulder strap option, and areas for Kleenex pouches and inflight slippers. Backpack prices start at $79.
Dreamlight Zen. For those times when it is necessary to block the world out the Dreamlight Zen can do just that. The item can be described as a plush eye pad that fits around the head with special spaces for the eyes. But then it departs. The eyes start flashing orange at a slow and rhythmic pace encouraging the breath and heart rate to follow. The orange hue is absent of any of the blue bands that are found in technical screens largely responsible for stimulating cortisol production. An attached element on the band brings guided meditation exercises and soothing sounds in stereo just above the ears and that sound access can pair through Bluetooth with any enabled program on a smartphone, such as music or one of myriad mediation apps available. The item is lightweight, portable and answers many pain points of traveling and flying for a current retain prices of $299
GetSet self-weighing luggage. While self-weighing luggage is not new, this lightweight hardware weighs itself while you pack with easy readouts that warn when the weight is going over the limit. There’s no more guessing or getting that unpleasant surprise at the airport that requires tossing gifts into waste cans and having to hand carrying that stack of magazines meant to be checked. When the suitcase is opened flat and scale is activated for continuous readouts in pounds or kilograms. In addition to the scale operated by using two AAA batteries. The bag also bears a TSA-approved combination lock and a removable battery charging station for a retail price of $495.
PacSafe worry-free bags. PacSafe seems to lead the pack in anti-theft and security benefits. The run a lengthy line of good-looking carry-ons, purses, briefcases and day packs that are made with virtually impenetrable materials and lock in strategic ways. That means items can be locked up and cable-attached to posts and furniture at the beach so vacationers can head to the water without continuously looking back. The most popular item is the Citysafe CX anti-theft backpack with brushed metal trim for women that features lip through function for attachment to handle of luggage. The RFID-enabled construction can fit a 13-inch MacBook, offers a phone pocket, a pen loop and water bottle pocket and is basically slash-proof. The well of the pack is deep and wide allowing complete visibility and taking the usual digging for items out of the equation. The bag sells for $129.|
Big Skinny Wallets. These are the wallets you want on the road. They hold it all: the passport, the three dozen credit cards, the cash and the change in a sleek, flat pliable fold that can fit comfortably in your front pocket. The ultra-slim wallets come in myriad configurations that start at $26.95. All function with the ultimate goal of eliminating bulky wallets with lightweight leather or exclusive featherweight nylon microfiber that remains durable, water resistant and RFID-enabled.
Elios Trackers. Elios has become a name of late for the newest in traveler-focused charging and tracking technology. It’s GoPlug made waves at past shows as a device with lightweight portability that could manage seven phone charges and two Laptop charges in a short period of time. This year, the company introduced The Elios Smart GPS tracking power bank that can fully charge a smartphone three times over and can track personal gear in more than 210 countries. The item allows for real time location tracking of objects (vehicle, person, pet, luggage, bike, etc.) from the app or online in real-time. You can view additional information about the tracking: exact address, travel history, speed of travel and more. The item is now being touted by kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart as a device for solo travelers and women. A small device called a Panic Button can send SOS signals anywhere in a pre-programmed message and GPS location to a list of contacts or local law enforcement. Similarly, travelers can create a “geo-fence” through Elios and be alerted when anything irregular has occurred. Items are available for less than $100 on the MyElios website.
The Benjilock. Finally, a travel lock that opens with the touch of a finger. The Benjilock is a small, TSA-approved padlock for luggage and other items that works like Apple pay – with the imprint of a thumb. In fact, it can register up to four distinct fingerprints. The Shark Tank supported product made a hit at the Travel Goods Show as a safe andrechargeable (through lithium-ion battery) item that takes concern for tiny lock keys or combination recall out the equation. The item is widely available for $49.99.