Women who spend a great deal of time on the road will be among the first to tell you that logistical and scheduling stressors can be greatly reduced with items designed to go the distance. Whether you are getting ready for a trip, shopping for a gift, or getting your college-age daughter ready for her first trip abroad, this list provides several high-functioning finds. All are available for less than $100 each.
Getting your belongings from one point to another is no small accomplishment. That's where choosing the proper bags, protectors, and organizers can be critical. One size doesn't always fit all, however, so taking your specific needs into account will help guide you.
Overland Equipment offers a combination tote and laptop backpack in its Cambridge bag, which comes with stow-away straps, compression tabs, vertical storage for easier aisle navigation, and a top zipper for extra security. Those with mobile-office needs that require a fair bit of fieldwork may find it particularly useful.
Need to carry a digital camera in your pocketbook so you're prepared for travel photography opportunities? Sea to Summit sells a large, padded, soft-cell pouch in fun colors that provides a nice buffer for a mid-size DSLR. At an Amazon price of approximately $35, it's about half the cost of other camera-specific purse inserts I've seen on the market.
If the airport security shuffle's got you down, Flanabags has a quart-size, clear storage bag for liquids that comes with a fashionable wrist strap. Those who fly only a couple of times a year may choose to stick with the bargain-basement quart bags from the grocery store. However, those with schedules composed significantly of flight connections will definitely appreciate the ability to reach through the strap and have the bag on your wrist while quickly grabbing your shoes, laptop, and other belongings to dash to the nearest bench, where you can compose yourself.
Space-efficient wardrobe extenders are available with CamiBands, a tubular clothing item that can serve as a colored insert under blouses instead of a camisole, and also as a layering piece under the bottom edge of a tank or tee. They are helpful when a full second layer would be too hot or excessively bulky to pack for a limited trip.
Active loungewear is my luxury of choice for trips where outfit changes are extremely limited. It gives me something I can wear to relax after a day of meetings and also sleep in and wear to the gym in the morning before heading home on the plane. A pair of lightweight yoga pants is certainly a savvy choice, as is a thin hooded pull-over top. ExOfficio's Chica Cool hoodie for women is one such example, and perfectly appropriate for a late-night trip downstairs to the hotel tea bar or a cool morning beach stroll. Its fabric weight makes it a winner for frequent travelers who need to pack light.
Convertible clothing is also a killer investment, as is anything that can be worn in more than one way and lets you cut back on the number of items you need to pack. Aventura's two-in-one convertible dress is one such item. As a mid-calf dress, it can be worn strapless or with a tie-around halter. When you're ready for a different look, scrunch the top band a bit and slide the garment down to your waist to serve as a stylish maxi skirt you can pair with a cute top and your favorite pair of strappy sandals.
If a plastic rain poncho doesn't make your short list of travel fashion preferences and you find yourself with no room for a bulky trench, a RainRap might be a workable solution. Made of a lightweight, water-resistant fabric, it's similar to a hooded poncho that allows you to reverse between two colors. Multiple color combinations are available.
For classic swimwear, it's hard to go wrong with a basic black tank suit. It can serve as a body suit in a pinch, and can easily be layered under other clothing on the plane when you are trying to travel with nothing but a tote and a small carry-on. The Siena suit from Aqua Sphere is a strong choice, providing light body shaping and decent breast support for roughly $60.
Women with precision grooming needs may want to research TweezerMan, which sells a variety of compact items such as folding brow combs, miniature tweezers, and small adhesive magnifying mirrors. Those who enjoy traveling to more remote destinations know alternative personal products are often a pressing concern. Shewee.ca sells a portable urinary device for women that I wish I'd known about years ago. Essentially an ergonomic funnel, it provides hygienic and modest toilet access where it would otherwise be difficult or impossible. Basically, it lets us go standing up with our pants on, ladies. How cool is that?
Space limitations and packing concerns aside, disposable feminine products can be difficult to come by in many parts of the world. That's when having easily sanitized, reusable items at your disposal is a good idea. Lunapads are a snap-in-place cloth solution that you can launder by hand on the road and air dry, and the DivaCup is a removable cup that's worn internally and cleaned between uses.