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Future Travel Gear, Today

In the not-so-distant past, we packed full-size bottles of sunscreen in our carry-on, and never wondered which electronics to remove from our messenger bag. We hurried through security with sloshing water bottles clipped to our backpacks, and our shoes tied snuggly to our feet. But after 9-11, measures taken by the newly formed Department of Homeland Security created fresh travel needs.

Suddenly we were buying clear plastic 3-1-1 toiletry kits with 3.4 oz (or smaller) bottles, backpacks with easily-accessible laptop compartments, luggage with seats, collapsible water bottles that could be filled once you reached a secure area, even socks and foot coverings designed to prevent travelers from having to walk barefoot through airport scanners.

Like 9-11, the COVID-19 pandemic has also changed travel forever.

The innovators in our industry – the companies looking at the pandemic as a business opportunity – are beginning to manufacturer and ship the products that will allow us to safely travel tomorrow. The bags and accessories that solve our new travel problems are going to be our future travel goods success stories.

Road-Trip Ready

Vacation travel is slowly resuming, with travelers planning long weekends and multi-week trips. The difference? Sightseers are keeping it relatively local, whether it’s Parisian residents finally climbing a tourist-free Eiffel Tower, or North Americans driving (not flying) to beach, mountain, and lake locations, willing to take their chances with lower outdoor transmission rates.

National park attendance is surging, and outdoor retailers Bass Pro and Cabela’s report hiring 5,000 new employees, while U.S. bike sales are up 65% compared to 2019 (according to market research company NPD Group). While upscale domestic resorts were sold out through the summer, RVshare saw family (and budget) friendly RV rentals also increase 1600% since April.

Is there opportunity for the travel goods business in the trend towards outdoor recreation and domestic car travel? Retailers have changed their product mix in response: Focus on Travel in Whitehorse, Canada is promoting camera and binocular sales for birdwatching and other outdoor activities. Ship to Shore Luggage Store in Cocoa Beach, FL is leaning in to the Disney excitement with a full line of Disney, Star Wars, and Harry Potter themed accessories. It’s…In The Bag! in Palm Desert, CA stocked up on hiking and outdoor gear for camping trips, including hydration packs, trekking poles, pocket knives, hats, bug protection, and first aid kits. It’s…In The Bag! is also embroidering their own humorous mask designs.

Manufacturers have responded with their own innovative solutions. Talus produces car organizers for family road trips, solo car travelers, and daily drivers. The new High Road CarHop™ is a back-seat organizer with insulated cooler. It includes two cup holders, a tray for eating or play, eight storage compartments, and an insulated center compartment. A hook and loop back strap secures the organizer to the seat belt for stability and serves as a deterrent to “mom he’s touching me” moments. Another road trip essential, High Road’s new 2-gallon TrashStand™ is weighted to prevent tipping during turns.

While many are sheltering in place with their laptops, working remotely can mean working from anywhere, and people are doing just that. If you are a newly free-range office worker, you need the High Road Car Seat Office Organizer, a desktop organizer redesigned for car seats. Store paperwork, electronics, pens and snacks with five inside compartments, 11 outside pockets and a designated tissue dispenser. Designed to sit on the front passenger seat, the organizer stays in place with a rubberized grip bottom and front stability strap that attaches to the seat belt.

High Road CarHop™
Photo: Courtesy of Talus

The new High Road CarHop™ from Talus is a back-seat organizer with an insulated cooler. It includes two cup holders, a tray for eating or play, eight storage compartments, and an insulated center compartment. A hook and loop back strap secures the organizer to the seat belt for stability, and to serve as a barrier to “mom he’s touching me” moments. MSRP: $34.99

High Road’s new 2-gallon TrashStand™
Photo: Courtesy of Talus

Another road trip essential, Talus’ new High Road 2-gallon TrashStand™ is weighted to prevent tipping during turns. MSRP: $19.99

Everyday Carry

At the peak of the pandemic, 52% of Americans reported always working from home, with another 18% sometimes working from home, according to a March/April Gallup poll. That’s 100 million people in the U.S. alone. As these office workers begin to resume their daily commute (and for essential workers who never stopped), cycling and walking to work has risen dramatically.

From March until mid-June 2020, U.S. urban bicycle ridership increased 21% compared to 2019 (according to Eco-Counter, a Montreal engineering firm). Apple Maps has seen a measurable and sustained increase in requests for walking directions. And New York’s Citi bike share business experienced an immediate 67% growth in ridership in March, as people became aware of COVID-19.

HEX responded to commuters’ changing needs with two important features. The Technical Backpack and Technical Messenger Bag now include built-in rain flaps, because unexpected rain during a walk to work or bike commute is inconvenient for you, but it’s a disaster for your laptop. A hidden rain cover with reflective HEX logo easily stores under the front pocket when not in use.

And for those still braving buses and trains, the HEX Daily Duffel, Technical Backpack and Technical Messenger Bag now feature anti-microbial technology infused into the exterior shell material, actively repelling bacteria, mold and fungus. A germy subway ride is bad enough, you don’t want to invite the world back into your home on your backpack.

As workers restart their commute the cup-holder-size CleanLight Air by KeySmart can go with them, from car (or Uber ride) to office. This personal air filter pulls the surrounding air through a UVC chamber designed to kill 99% of germs and bacteria, then a HEPA filter which removes larger particles including dust, pet dander, air pollution, smoke, and odors. Finally, the clean air streams though an aromatherapy diffuser, allowing you to enjoy essential oils like peppermint or lavender.

Both KeySmart and Travelon are also using UVC technology to clean your gadgets, rather than the air around you. Even though we resolve not to touch our phone while running errands, sometimes it’s unavoidable. When you return to your home, office or car, Travelon’s One-touch Germicidal Sanitizer Box uses 360˚ UVC light to kill or inactivate 99.9% of the viruses, bacteria and germs on your gadgets in under three minutes, with no possibility of regeneration.

The portable design with USB adaptor allows you to plug in and sanitize from anywhere. Use it for all your high-touch, contamination-prone items: mobile phones up to 6.5” tall, credit cards, glasses, keys, pacifiers, and face masks. Like the CleanLight Air by KeySmart, there’s an aromatherapy option. Add 2-3 drops of essential oil to the aromatherapy inlet, press the aromatherapy button and your face mask (or other personal item) will emerge smelling great.

The CLEANTRAY by KeySmart offers very similar features in a slightly larger package, fitting smartphones up to 7” and boasting a 10,000-hour lifespan.

For the minimalist, Mundi developed My Personal Purifier, which can be worn as a wristlet. The pouch contains a UVC light unit which works with your portable battery (not included) or can be used at home with a USB port. You can sterilize your smart phone, face mask, money, credit cards, ear buds, eyeglasses, and keys on the go, without having to return to your home base to decontaminate your things.

Or DIY with Mundi’s Clean Sweep – Portable UVC Sanitizer, a pocket-size wand that plugs into your power bank. Hold the Clean Sweep over any surface for a minute to safely eliminate up to 99.9% of germs and bacteria. Another affordable and minimalist solution is a set of four Reusable Antimicrobial Pouches from Travelon. The pouches have built-in cleansing particles that destroy pathogens. They’re safe to touch with no toxic risk, backed by a decade of testing data. Use them to tote toiletry items plus the latest travel safety requirement: the thermometer.

HEX Technical Backpack
Photo: Courtesy of HEX

HEX responded to commuters’ changing needs with two important features. The Technical Backpack and Technical Messenger Bag now include a hidden rain cover, because unexpected rain during a walk to work or bike commute is inconvenient for you, but it’s a disaster for your laptop. And for those still braving buses and trains, the HEX Daily Duffel, Technical Backpack and Technical Messenger Bag now feature anti-microbial technology infused into the exterior shell material, actively repelling bacteria, mold and fungus. A germy subway ride is bad enough, you don’t want to invite the world back into your home on your backpack. HEX Technical Backpack, HEX Technical Messenger Bag and HEX Daily Duffel all MSRP: $149.95

KeySmart CleanTray
Photo: Courtesy of KeySmart

The CleanTray by KeySmart is a UV sterilization case that kills 99.99% of germs and bacteria in five minutes. The CleanTray fits all your essentials: wallet, AirPods, and smartphones up to 7”. Enjoy a 10,000-hour lifespan with no toxic chemicals or waste. There’s even an optional aromatherapy diffuser so your phone will smell as clean as it feels. MSRP: $99.99

Mundi Westport My Personal Purifier
Photo: Courtesy of Mundi Westport

For the minimalist, Mundi Westport developed My Personal Purifier, which can be worn as a wristlet. The pouch contains a UVC light unit which works with your portable battery (not included), or can be used at home with a USB port. You can sterilize your smart phone, face mask, money, credit cards, ear buds, eyeglasses, and keys on the go, without having to return to your home base to decontaminate your things. MSRP: $34.99

Mundi Westport Clean Sweep
Photo: Courtesy of Mundi Westport

DIY with Mundi Westport’s Clean Sweep – Portable UVC Sanitizer, a pocket-size wand that plugs into your power bank. Hold the Clean Sweep over any surface for a minute to safely eliminates up to 99.9% of germs and bacteria. MSRP: $19.99

Travelon Antimicrobial Pouches
Photo: Courtesy of Travelon

Reusable Antimicrobial Pouches from Travelon have built-in cleansing particles that destroy pathogens. They’re safe to touch with no toxic risk, backed by a decade of testing data. Use them to tote toiletry items plus the latest travel safety requirement: the thermometer. MSRP: $10.00/Set of 4

The Daily Essentials

Who hasn’t chanted “wallet, glasses, keys and phone” as they left for a trip? (Or if you’re a little older, “tickets, money, passport?”) The new essentials for today’s travelers are a clean face mask, touch tool, and a precious bottle of hand sanitizer. Travel goods manufacturers have embraced PPE production, from disposable masks to face shields and reusable masks. The Barrier Method, now the OG of fashionable face coverings, has expanded their collection beyond their original Winged Mask (with its distinctive combination of scarf plus interior mask with hidden ear loops). New styles include the Neckie, a neck-gaiter style face covering; Just the Mask, a traditional mask; as well as mask filtration inserts.

Among the newcomers to PPE production, styles range from functional to the highly fashionable. Manufacturers include YaY Novelty, Clayton & Crume, Cabeau, Travelers Club, Aviator, InnoTri, HYDAWAY, VIP Industries, Pacsafe, World Richman Mfg., and Retra Products, sometimes packed in cute carrying cases (Artphere, LongLat).

Also see “A Smart Pivot Around COVID-19” on TGA’s website for a directory of PPE products including contact and pricing. The directory is ever expanding so be sure to bookmark the page and check back.

The most extreme travel industry PPE is The M.E. HOOD™, a full hood with integrated face mask and eye shield. It’s currently in the Kickstarter phase, developed by Retra Products (formerly RetraStrap).

Pacsafe stands out from the crowd with two technologically advanced face masks, both available in three sizes. The Pacsafe ViralOff face mask is treated with Polygiene® ViralOff®, which functions like a sanitizing gel for your mask. The knitted polyester mask will hold 99% fewer viruses after two hours than one without anti-viral treatment. And the Pacsafe silver iON face mask protects you with a silver ion fabric that effectively disinfects and reduces microbes, and doesn’t wash out. The silver ion cotton outer layer, modal graphene filter and cotton lining provides at least 99% filtration efficiency against microbials and airborne particles down to 2.5 microns.

Travel goods manufacturers are also dreaming up interesting new mask accessories. YaY Novelty focuses on comfort for health care providers and essential workers with their Button Headband for Face Mask and Ear Protector Strap for Face Mask. These mask accessories prevent discomfort and skin irritation behind the ears, and help masks stay in place during physically demanding tasks.

Cabeau has introduced a smart and simple solution to the problem of fogging glasses, Cabeau Tape. Cabeau Tape is an FDA-approved and dermatologist recommended medical-grade tape used to seal the gaps around the perimeter of any filtration mask. The pre-cut reusable strips prevent foggy glasses and block virus-size particles from coming around the sides of the mask. They also reduce ear loop discomfort and prevent mask slippage for both adults and wriggly kids.

KeySmart took an entirely different approach to eyeglass clarity, developing a proprietary spray formula that is both anti-fog and anti-static. Primarily water, baking soda and isopropyl alcohol, the non-toxic formula works on eyeglasses, sunglasses, and goggles. It lasts for 24 hours and is safe for both anti-reflective and non-anti-reflective lenses.

And then there is the touch tool, the new essential key-chain accessory for our germophobic world. The KeySmart™ CleanKey™ is a touch tool with a stylus tip that works on touchscreens, plus a hook that allows you to open doors, press buttons and pull levers without surface contact. The CleanKey is manufactured out of uncoated Copper Alloy 260, which is inherently antimicrobial, killing 99.9% of bacteria within two hours.

ReturnMe has developed the TOUCH-AID touch tool, with two small rubber knobs perfect for opening doors and handles, using touchscreens, and pressing buttons. The TOUCH-AID also features popular ReturnMe replacement technology. Attach the TOUCH-AID to your keys or bag, activate the unique ID number online or by phone, and if someone finds your lost item, ReturnMe will facilitate its return. They’ll ship your item to you for free for the first year, and reward the finder once you’ve retrieved your item.

If you like “Transformers” you’ll love My Safety Stick, the new touch tool from Mundi. It features two caps that cover the dirty parts of the stick, reducing the chances of cross-contamination. Pop the caps to reveal a touch-tool and hook for operating keypads and buttons, and opening handles and doors.

Notu Design (from Gruv Gear founder Jay Baldemor) has come up with a truly different touch tool: a friendly ergonomic oval shape with a hook that slides out to open doors and then retracts into the aluminum casing, keeping germs away from your hands. The Notu One also includes a convenient pen for signing paper receipts and a stylus for use on touchscreens and keypads.

The Mundi Westport Socially Sure Kit includes both new essential accessories: washable PPE and a touch tool. A clear wristlet is packed with two reusable and washable fashion face masks with adjustable metal molding around the nose and filter sleeve, two replacement filters and a Don’t Touch That multi-purpose touch tool (a simpler version of My Safety Stick). Masks are available in assorted fashionable neutrals.

Ms. Jetsetter has also developed a notable new kit. The Ms. J Healthy Travel Kit includes a fabric mask with filter pocket, refillable hand sanitizer with carabiner, 10 disinfectant wipes, and three pairs of disposable gloves, all in a TSA-accepted clear case. Similarly, Talus offers a compact kit containing a disposable face mask, gloves, hand sanitizer bottle, and multiple sizes of wipes.

Since the beginning of the pandemic we’ve experienced shortages in soap and hand sanitizer. SpectraSpray Global has added Hand and Surface Sanitizer to its line of health-supportive vitamin sprays, packaged in the same compact and stylish aluminum tubes. Cabeau is marketing personal-size hand sanitizers that come in a soft sided pouch (like a squeezable fruit pouch) with an attached carabiner. Meanwhile Travelon is guaranteeing that you’ll have suds while you sing “Happy Birthday” (or your choice of song to time your handwashing). Their Hand Soap Toiletry Sheets come in packs of 50 sheets in a compact, pocket size plastic container. Simply add water and the eco-friendly sheets dissolve into fresh, fragrant hand soap. 

The Barrier Method Winged Mask
Photo: Courtesy of The Barrier Method

The Barrier Method Winged Mask is a stylish combination of scarf plus interior mask with hidden, adjustable ear loops. Antibacterial, light weight, wicking, UPF 50, breathable, non-pilling, and wrinkle-resistant fabric construction is available in a variety of fashion colors and prints. MSRP: $55

Pacsafe ViralOff
Photo: Courtesy of Pacsafe

The Pacsafe ViralOff face mask is treated with Polygiene® ViralOff®, which functions like a sanitizing gel for your mask. The knitted polyester mask is available in three sizes, and will hold 99% fewer viruses in 2 hours than one without anti-viral treatment. MSRP: $12.95

Pacsafe silver iON
Photo: Courtesy of Pacsafe

The Pacsafe silver iON face mask protects you with a silver ion fabric that effectively disinfects and reduces microbes, and doesn’t wash out. The silver ion cotton outer layer, modal graphene filter and cotton lining provides at least 99% filtration efficiency against microbials and airborne particles down to 2.5 microns. Like the Pacsafe ViralOff, the Pacsafe silver iON face mask is available in three sizes. MSRP: $39.95

YaY Novelty Button Headband for Face Masks
Photo: Courtesy of YaY Novelty

YaY Novelty Button Headband for Face Mask prevents discomfort and skin irritation behind the ears, and helps masks stay in place during physically demanding tasks. All COVID-19 products by YaY Novelty are sold at their cost in order to fight the global pandemic. Headbands are 100% cotton in a variety of fun colors and prints, with soft elastic and 1″ buttons, handmade in the USA. MSRP: $5

YaY Novelty Ear Protector Strap for Face Mask
Photo: Courtesy of YaY Novelty

YaY Novelty Ear Protector Strap for Face Mask prevents discomfort and skin irritation behind the ears and helps masks stay in place during physically demanding tasks. All COVID-19 products by YaY Novelty are sold at their cost in order to fight the global pandemic. Straps are crafted of 100% polyester 3/4″ strong elastic and 3/4″ custom coconut buttons, handmade in the USA. MSRP: $2

Cabeau introduces a smart and simple solution to the problem of fogging glasses, Cabeau Tape. Cabeau Tape is an FDA-approved and dermatologist recommended medical-grade tape used to seal the gaps around the perimeter of any filtration mask. The pre-cut reusable strips prevent foggy glasses, and block virus-size particles from coming around the sides of the mask. They also reduce ear loop discomfort and prevent mask slippage for both adults and wriggly kids. MSRP: $14.99

KeySmart took an entirely different approach to eyeglass clarity, developing FogBlock™, a proprietary spray formula that is both anti-fog and anti-static. Primarily water, baking soda and isopropyl alcohol, the non-toxic formula works on eyeglasses, sunglasses, and goggles. It lasts for 24 hours and is safe for both anti-reflective and non-anti-reflective lenses. MSRP: $14.99

ReturnMe TOUCH-AID
Photo: Courtesy of ReturnMe

ReturnMe has developed the TOUCH-AID touch tool, with two small rubber knobs perfect for opening doors and handles, using touchscreens, and pressing buttons. The TOUCH-AID also features popular ReturnMe replacement technology. Attach the TOUCH-AID to your keys or bag, activate the unique ID number online or by phone, and if someone finds your lost item, ReturnMe will facilitate its return. They’ll ship your item to you for free for the first year, and reward the finder once you’ve retrieved your item. MSRP: $12.99

Mundi Westport My Safety Stick
Photo: Courtesy of Mundi Westport

If you like “Transformers” you’ll love My Safety Stick, the new touch tool from Mundi Westport. It features two caps that cover the dirty parts of the stick, reducing the chances of cross-contamination. Pop the caps to reveal a touch-tool and hook for operating keypads and buttons, and opening handles and doors. MSRP: $17.99

Notu Design
Photo: Courtesy of Notu Design

Notu Design (from Gruv Gear founder Jay Baldemor) has come up with a truly different touch tool: a friendly ergonomic oval shape with a hook that slides out to open doors and then retracts into the aluminum casing, keeping germs away from your hands. The Notu One also includes a convenient pen for signing paper receipts and a stylus for use on touchscreens and keypads. MSRP: $49.99/anodized aluminum, $59.99/brass-plated antimicrobial finish

Ms. J Healthy Travel Kit
Photo: Courtesy of Ms. Jetsetter

Ms. Jetsetter has developed a notable new kit: The Ms. J Healthy Travel Kit includes a fabric mask with filter pocket, refillable hand sanitizer with carabiner, 10 disinfectant wipes, and three pairs of disposable gloves, all in a TSA-accepted clear case. Ms. Jetsetter is an African American woman-owned business. MSRP: $16.99

SpectraSpray Global Hand and Surface Sanitizer
Photo: Courtesy of SpectraSpray Global

SpectraSpray Global has added a Hand and Surface Sanitizer to its line of health-supportive vitamin sprays, packaged in their trademark compact and stylish aluminum tubes. MSRP: $10.95, $27.95/3

Cabeau Sanitizer To Go
Photo: Courtesy of Cabeau

Cabeau is marketing Sanitizer To Go, personal-size hand sanitizers that come in a soft sided pouch (like a squeezable fruit pouch) with an attached carabiner. MSRP: $19.99/10-piece box

If You Must Fly

Global air travel was down 85% this summer, with only domestic travel in China recovering to any meaningful extent (back to 66% of normal levels by the end of summer). In the U.S., travel originally dropped 95%, and by August had stabilized at 30% of normal levels. For those who have to fly, or have chosen to fly again, travel goods manufacturers have developed sanitation products ranging from basic kits to extreme full body protection. NeetPac has you covered, literally, with a kit that includes a tray table cover, headrest cover, and antibacterial towelette and hand sanitizer wipes. The Travel Safe Portable Hygiene Kit by Enviro-Point contains two 3-ply disposable face masks, two pairs of gloves, a packet of ten disinfectant wipes and a 100 ml hand sanitizer bottle, all contained in an eye-catching, reusable travel pouch.

If you weren’t a fan of Clorox wipes – or simply can’t find any – The Barrier Method has the Organic Anti-bacterial Travel Towelettes packaged in a convenient travel tube, a 10-pack of biodegradable wipes. Each tube contains 10 nickel-size compressed bamboo towelettes infused with certified organic and wild harvested essential oils. Add 1 oz of water and the biodegradable tablets expand to an 8” x 10” bamboo sheet, large enough to clean your seatback and tray table and leave your hands smelling fresh.

Travelon also developed two sizes of compact, reusable anti-microbial cloths for wiping your hands and the area around you. The Antimicrobial On-the-go Cloth is packed in a soft silicon bulb that clips to your bag, and is sold in a set of two. The same safe and permanent silver ion antimicrobial treatment is also available in a full-size 50” x 29.5” Anti-Bacterial Travel Towel, which comes packed in its own mesh carry bag.

For the truly terrified (and truly determined to travel), Retra Products is developing NEWLVL, a complete coverall with hands-free mode. NEWLVL is a hooded poncho with integrated mask, eye shield and gloves. The gloves are attached to the sleeves and can be removed from the interior without exposing your hands. Like the rest of 2020, it has to be seen to be believed.

NeetPac
Photo: Courtesy of NeetPac

NeetPac has you covered, literally, with a kit that includes a tray table cover, headrest cover, and antibacterial towelette and hand sanitizer wipes. MSRP: $11.49

Enviro-Point Travel Safe Portable Hygiene Kit
Photo: Courtesy of Enviro-Point

The Travel Safe Portable Hygiene Kit by Enviro-Point contains two 3-ply disposable face masks, two pairs of gloves, a packet of ten disinfectant wipes and a 100 ml hand sanitizer bottle, all contained in an eye-catching, reusable travel pouch. MSRP: $9.50

The Barrier Method Organic Anti-bacterial Travel Towelettes
Photo: Courtesy of The Barrier Method

If you’re not a fan of Clorox wipes – or simply can’t find any – The Barrier Method has the Organic Anti-bacterial Travel Towelettes package in a convenient travel tube, a 10-pack of biodegradable wipes. Each tube contains 10 nickel-size compressed bamboo towelettes infused with certified organic and wild harvested essential oils. Add 1 oz of water and the biodegradable tablets expand to an 8” x 10” bamboo sheet, large enough to clean your seatback and tray table and leave your hands smelling fresh. MSRP: $10

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