It was around this time last year that my family returned from our Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas adventure; a media trip that set off a flurry of family travel activity for the next six months. And while it felt like our suitcases were permanently stacked in the corner of the bedroom, awaiting the next trip – trust me, I was not complaining.
However, I did learn something from the experience: travel in the 4th quarter puts much stress on me, both physically and mentally. Not only is it my busiest time professionally (ahem, have you seen how many Twitter Parties I’ve got on the go? There’s literally 1-2 every week leading up to the holidays), but since Christmas is my favourite time of the year, I like to savour the season while surrounded by family and friends – not in airports or hotel rooms. Hence, I made a conscious decision to cease all travel from October – December this year, preferring instead to get my home, and my family, ready for the holidays.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not in planning mode for 2014! I’ve got a slew of staycations, family travel opportunities and even a romantic getaway (for two) planned. I’m so looking forward to both media events and a real, bona fide vacation next year!
Last month, while cruising on The Shopping Channel (TSC), I found some amazing pieces that I just couldn’t resist. They’re perfect for toting along on my upcoming adventures, and since I consider myself quite the family travel enthusiast, I’m so eager to share them with y’all. Here are my top picks for affordable travel necessities that are easy to pack, easy to use, and most importantly, easy on the wallet!
I am pretty much in love with this product. You see, I have a distinct phobia of bugs… especially the ones that like to travel. Hence, I never unpack clothes from my suitcase, as I have little trust in the purity of hotel dressers and drawers to be be a bedbug-free zone.
Of course, this means that for every trip, I find myself squatting beside my suitcase on the floor, trying to access the outfits I had painstakingly packed. And rummaging through an already jammed suitcase? Not so much fun. Enter the Heys JetPack Collapsible Luggage Packing Shelf.
“The Heys JetPack is a Collapsible Packing Shelf that makes the perfect companion for any traveler. This ingenious and lightweight luggage piece will make packing more organized, more efficient and stress-free. No more unpacking your luggage one article at a time. Now, with one bag, you can do it all at once and still remain completely organized. Simply fill its shelves with your neatly folded clothes, compress the shelf with the built-in strap and put it in your suitcase. The JetPack also features exterior pockets for small accessories. When you get to your hotel or destination, simply hang the JetPack on a closet rod and loosen the compression shelf. You’ll be able to quickly and easily see all of your clothes with the help of a 360 degree swivel hook. Once you try it you’ll agree that this piece makes an indispensable must-have for anyone who travels.”
GAH! Ingenious! Not only can you pre-pack your clothes in the order you’d like to wear them, but they all stay perfectly pressed and organized. And the best part – hang the JetPack in the closet, and alleviate bedbug fears!
(In case you’re wondering, the shelf weighs 2.2 lbs. So as long as you pack conservatively, it won’t put a dent in your maximum weight allowance. And, it comes in nine pretty colours to match your personality. I’m partial to fuchsia!)
Despite our best efforts, sometimes packed clothing wrinkles like a Shar Pei. And just as I have little trust for hotel dressers, I’m similarly woeful of in-room irons. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve scorched a blouse or two while getting used to the heat settings (domestic diva I am not). So, I always travel with a mini steamer to loosen the wrinkles on lightweight clothing.
However, to be perfectly honest, my last mini steamer was crap. It leaked and barely gave any steam output. So I’m particularly eager to test out the HomeSuite Mini-Steamer, especially since the online reviews (both on TSC and other sites) seem mostly favourable.
“Quickly remove wrinkles from clothing, upholstery, drapes and other fabrics with the HomeSuite Mini Steamer. It is also ideal for disinfecting plush toys, pet bedding, pillows and more.”
While searching reviews, I picked up a fabulous tip that I know I’ll use: to combat any water leaking from the nozzle, cover it with a piece of cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. The steam will still flow freely, while the extra droplets of water will be absorbed by the cheesecloth before falling onto your clothing. Done and done!
The mini steamer is also available in a variety of shades, and comes with a matching travel pouch for easy storage.
Everyone needs a hanging tote when travelling, especially when staying in less-than-spacious conditions. A hanging tote saved me last year while aboard the cruise ship, where vanity space was virtually non-existent. But, the hanging tote I have is nowhere near as stylish or functional as this Little Black Dress holder, so I just had to buy it!
“The Umbra Little Black Dress Accessory Holder borrows the classic cut and design of the Little Black Dress for jewelry and other beauty accessories. Toiletries, cosmetics and small appliances can now be organized neatly over the door or inside your closet.”
The wonderful thing about this hanging tote is the fact that there are multiple pockets of different sizes for both jewelry and cosmetics, so you can multi-pack all your important items in one place. However, if you are going stash your shampoo with your precious gemstones, I do recommend that you use small Ziploc bags to catch any pressure spills, even if the goodies are in separate compartments.
Travel uses aside, this is a stellar piece for condos or apartments, or anywhere else you’re trying to save on space. It’s functional – and looks fabulous too – especially when turned around (yes, it looks like a little black dress!).
Hurry – there are only 2 left on the site.
This bright, ergonomic crossbody bag is essential for my media trips. One, because I always tote around my iPad and iPhone, and two, when I’m not utilizing my technology, it carries all my personal effects in a comfortable, hands-free manner (which is especially important when holding on to two little guys).
“LICENCE 71195 i-Pack iPad Shoulder Bag offers the fashion, lightness and protection you would love to have when carrying your iPad and accessories. The bag is simple but still a stunning fashion in its own right. Made of shiny black nylon fabric with full black lining and EVA foam padding in between, the bag is super-light and weight slightly less than 1lb. The built-in padded lid pocket with Velcro straps closure is custom designed to fit and protect your iPad while travelling.
What’s more inside are the compartments and pockets that made home for your iPad accessories and other i-gadgets. If you need additional space for some other personal stuff, you can expand the depth of the bag simply by unzipping the zipper along the side and that will give you one extra inch of room almost from top to bottom. They large zip pocket on the front (vertical) and back (horizontal) are perfect for your ‘quick reach’ items. The long adjustable and detachable black cotton shoulder strap allows you to wear the bag on the shoulder or crossbody.”
Buy why go for the lime green? It’s simple. Not only do I stand out from the crowd (in case hubby is looking for me after I’ve wandered off, which I tend to do often), but it’s also very visible in the event an unscrupulous person decides to thief it. Black purse making its way through a crowd? Not so noticeable. A neon bag travelling away? BINGO.
I’ve been a huge fan of crossbody handbags for travelling ever since I realized that freeing up an arm or hand is the key to saving my sanity, especially when vacationing with kids.
Okay, so this is hardly a travel “essential”, but it was too cute to resist.
“Take your shoes on the go with this stylish drawstring tote to help keep you shoes clean when not in use during your travels. Constructed with a geometric patterned fabric on the back of the bag, the focal point of this bag is an image of a trendy pair of shoes with an inspiring saying: “With the right shoes, anything is possible.” Beautiful satin type fabric and drawstrings, lined with coordinating red satin, this bag combined elegance and convenience!”
There is also a 6-pack of Jill Martin Shoe Bags on the site for $39.99, which, come to think of it, is a better value – but they’re nowhere near as pretty as this Upper Canada version. I guess could call it my travel splurge, but can you blame me? All of my other picks are so darned practical!
And that, my friends, are my top picks for affordable travel necessities from The Shopping Channel. Have you entered my fabulous contest for a chance to win a $250 Shopping Spree? You can grab all these products, and more!