Clever New Travel Products Arrive


Two of the new Anne McAlpin Packing Boards

Packing tools, water purifiers, and nifty new bags for kids, seniors, and hipsters.

Last week, manufacturers unveiled their latest travel gadgets and luggage at the annual Travel Goods Association show. Here's a look at a half-dozen of the most interesting new products.

Store liquids safely. Flight attendant Alisa Caviness-Driscoll heard the same complaint from passengers over and over again, whether it was about shampoo, lotion, or perfume: "The top came off, and it got all over everything!" So she invented plastic-and-aluminum pump tubes that are leakproof and shatterproof. These tubes--which she's named Pitotubes--meet Transportation Security Administration rules for transporting liquids in carry-on luggage in containers that are no heavier than three ounces. The travel-sized tubes cost $10 each. To buy, call 208/853-1416 or find a list of retailers at

Pack it better. Perhaps you've seen packing expert Anne McAlpin on various TV shows using a piece of cardboard as a homemade packing tool. The board splits a suitcase into horizontal halves, and clothing can be wrapped around the board to minimize wrinkles. This winter, the Anne McAlpin Packing Board hits stores, including step-by-step instructions for using the board and a packing checklist. The small version of the board is designed for bags that are 20-22 inches wide and costs $18. A larger board sells for $20. Sold by Travel Essentials (800/258-0758; and other stores.

Luggage for kids. British designer Rob Law says, "We understand that adults buy products, while children make friends with them." That's why his company created Trunki, the first ride-on suitcase, for children 3 to 6 years old. His brightly colored bag is sturdy enough to support your kids while you tow it with a strap. Or when you need to be more practical, you can carry  the bag on your shoulder. The bags are being sold by Magmatic in the U.S. Each bag resembles a cartoonish-looking animal and costs $40. Preorder at

Purify your water. Six years ago, the company Hydro-Photo invented a handheld gizmo that can purify your water using ultraviolet light. It combated Montezuma's revenge and other waterborne illnesses by destroying viruses, bacteria, and protozoa (including giardia and cryptosporidium) in seconds. Trouble was, this device--called the SteriPen--was bulky. This winter, the company produced a new version: SteriPen Traveler. It's half the size and weight of the "classic" version, standing only six inches high and weighing less than four ounces. It also has a solar charging accessory that can keep its batteries fresh in remote locations. Find SteriPen Traveler at C&C Outdoors ( for $130. 

Bags you can lean on. Polio survivor Etsuo Miyoshi wanted luggage that was light enough to maneuver through airports and strong enough to sit on--or even use as a walking aid. Of course, Miyoshi designed the bag he wanted, and his company, Swany, has just debuted the Swany Continental Collection Pocketbag, a 22-inch rolling bag that's strong enough to sit or lean on. Its four wheels rotate in all directions for easy handling. The price is $225. Place orders through Swany at 800/237-9269, ext. 102. Not for sale on the Web.

Get a retro look. When air travel was still fun and sophisticated, Pan Am ruled the skies. You can retrieve a bit of that glamour by toting a retro-style bag embossed with the logo of the airline (which now operates just a few flights a day). For example, the Flight One bag ($49) was the first cabin bag that Pan Am provided to first-class passengers. The Presidential bag ($69) was carried by John F. Kennedy during his presidential campaign. These and other Pan Am bags are coming soon to stores. In the meantime, you can order bags from PanAmOne by calling 212/391-9130, or selected bags via

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