At the International Travel Goods Show, a three-day event in Las Vegas that ended Friday, my guiding principle was: Things I Never Knew Existed but Now Can’t Travel Without. Roaming the palatial convention center hall, I wondered how I had survived so long without a face pillow on an adjustable pole, a doughnut-scented backpack and a luggage tag that sends the hardly subliminal message, “Upgrade me.” With 500 brands on display, I knew that I couldn’t adopt all of these newfound essentials; I had to make some tough-love decisions. Though the scouting continues, these three items have already won a place in my heart and, more important, space in my bag home.
▪ GSI Outdoors’s Glacier Stainless Nesting Red Wine Glass is a stainless-steel drinking vessel rugged enough to take on a camping trip. But what happens if a bear interrupts your wine-and-cheese party after a hike and you still have a few sips left in the goblet? You don’t want to chug it, nor do you want to toss the precious liquid on the ground. Instead, unscrew the stem, flip it upside down and snap the bottom over the opening of the glass. You now have a spill-resistant cup that will allow you to run for your life and toast your survival with the remaining vino.
▪ I wasn’t brave enough to volunteer my iPhone for submersion, so a bolder tester stepped up with her gadget to demonstrate the powers of Lewis N. Clark’s WaterSeals Magnetic Waterproof Phone Pouch. She placed the valuable item into the clear, waterproof sleeve and I heard the two bands of automatic magnetic closures click shut like a prison door. Then she dropped the package into a tank of water and proceeded to operate her phone as if it were still a land-dweller. The product claims to protect phones at depths up to 100 feet, so you can take a selfie with a deep-sea creature or get the digits of the dashing scuba diver in the nearby coral reef.
▪ Walter + Ray’s BendyMan Flashlight + Table Stand is the perfect travel companion: He illuminates the way via lights that shine through his eyes and is very flexible. His body parts move like Gumby’s; with a tug on the arm and a bend in the waist, he becomes a stand for smaller electronics and reading material. (Similar to an ant, he can carry more than his body weight.) You can attach him to the seatback tray on the plane or, if you have a middle seat, place him on the armrest. He will protect your personal space from elbow invaders.