luggage

Socks with pockets & see-though luggage.

My story for CNBC this week highlights some of the cool gear and gadgets that will be on display later this week in Las Vegas at the annual industry-only Travel Goods Show.

Carry-on bags and checkable suitcases seem to make up the bulk of the products vendors bring to the show. But there are also oodles of travel accessories on display, and many of those are quite useful and clever.

Here are just a few of the items that caught my eye:

Luggage that weighs itself

If you shop for shoes, clothes or books or liquor when you travel, your suitcase will weigh a lot more on the way home. A new suitcase from GetSet Luggage has a built-in battery-powered scale that weighs the bag as you pack.

See-through luggage

This product is sort of puzzling: tranparent luggage.

At least three companies are planning to display their versions of transparent or translucent luggage at this year’s Travel Goods Show. Traveler’s Choice calls their version The Millennial, so maybe see-through luggage has a generation-specific appeal.

Socks with pockets

My household has a variety of clothing with hidden pockets. These snazzyPocket Socks are getting added to the collection. 

Gear for your Grab ‘n Go

We thought attachments for carry-on bags that let you tote coffee cups were pretty cool, but Hontus Milano Group is bringing out a carry-on bag with a built-in insulated pocket for keeping foods (or medication, cosmetics and other temperature-sensitive items) hot or cold.

There are more items in my full story on CNBC – but these are definitely my favorites. Which of these new travel products would you buy?

Want: KLM’s cute little suitcase-toting robot

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a cute little robot to tote your carry-on around the airport and to the gate?

KLM is testing that idea out with its prototype self-driving cart – called KLM Care-E – that is designed to escort a passenger through the airport and carry their luggage for them.

The airline will be testing this out at JFK and SFO this summer, drawing stares and collecting data on autonomous technology at airports along the way.

KLM says the units will use non-verbal sounds to greet passengers after security and somehow prompt them to scan their ticket barcodes.

Then the unit will use GPS data to navigate through the terminal to their gate and – somehow – understand if a passenger wants to stop at a shop, restaurant or restroom along the way.

(Will the cute little blue cart wait outside the restroom with your stuff or try to go with you into the stall? That’s my first question..)

KLM says Care-E will move at 3 mph (the average human walking pace) and is designed to know if there’s a boarding gate change.

“We wanted to surprise our customers with an airport concept that was an extension of our friendly, smiling staff,” said Boet Kreiken, Executive Vice President Customer Experience at KLM. “We have the ambition to revolutionize the delivery of care through the power of existing innovations and move diagnostics from the laboratory to where our customer really is. ”

KLM worked with product development firm 10xBeta to create these e-carts, which are scheduled for 2-day long trials at JFK and SFO in July and August.

Sadly, KLM says it is only testing the interaction between machines and humans and has no plans to roll out permanent or additional Care-E carts anytime soon.

I miss the little carts already!

Souvenir Sunday: a journey with “Luggage”

On my travels this week I’ve been toting a review copy of Susan Harlan’s book, Luggage, which is part of Bloomsbury’s charming Object Lessons series.

The slim book is travel-sized, but densely-packed and Harlan has stuffed it with stories and side-trips that touch not just on the actual history and development of suitcases, bags, trunks, carry-ons and valises, but on the role baggage plays in literature, art and films.

Remember Mary Poppins’ carpet bag?

“It contains all of her desires,” writes Harlan, and is a “powerfully enabling object” from which the nanny is somehow able to produce a lamp and a mirror (in the 1964 Disney movie) and, in the novel by P.L. Travers, everything from an apron to an armchair.

Poppins’ luggage was not only magical, notes Harlan, it gave her freedom. “She can come and go as the wind changes, which would hardly be possible with a steamer trunk,” Harlan writes.

In “Luggage,” Harlan tells us about her own collection of vintage luggage, a bit of how she and others approach packing and of her visit to to Alabama’s vast Unclaimed Baggage Center, which is not just a store but a tourist destination.

Along the way she unpacks the role and relationship baggage has to everything from home and gender to class, memory, loss and, of course, travel.

“The history of luggage is the history of travel: how we traveled, and why, and where, and what we have packed,” Harlan tells us at the beginning of this journey, “It is virtually impossible to think of traveling without luggage.”

 

 

 

 

New gear & gadgets from the International Travel Goods Show

The latest in luggage, travel gear and on-the-go gadgets goes on display each year at the International Travel Goods Show in Las Vegas.

It’s anyone’s bet which of the products displayed by the more than 500 brands in attendance will take flight, but some of these new products have a great chance

Luggage scooter

Villagio of Miami’s Transmover 3-wheeled scooter has a TSA-approved detachable, rechargeable battery, a space to attach luggage (even a pet carrier) and may be a harried travelers’ answer to that long walk out to the gate.

And it’s fun. The scooter’s 12 mph top speed and 12-15 mile range can provide entertainment on a long layover inside or outside of the terminal. (MSRP: $550-$595 for the electric model; $250-$295 for the non-electric model)

Window tablet bag

Italian designer Nunzia Palmieri created a clever and sophisticated line of women’s business-style handbags and shoulder bags featuring a front pocket that can be used to store and cushion an iPad or tablet or, with the cushion removed, provide working access to the tablet via a clear window. At this year’s International Travel Goods Show Palmieri is expanding the collection to include a men’s line of leather and fabric travel bags with tablet-shaped windows as well. MSRP: starting at $228.

One bag becomes two

Thule luggage maker is rolling out a new Subterra collection that includes four rolling luggage pieces and four travel backpacks.

The 22-inch 2-wheel Subterra Carry-On (MSRP: $279.95) has a compression panel that makes it easy to pack more items and to keep clean clothes separate from dirty ones. The versatile, 22-inch Subterra Luggage piece (MSRP: $319.95) can be filled and checked as one piece or split into two smaller, independent pieces of luggage that are carry-on compliant.

Luggage tags made from airplane fuselage

 

MotoArt Studios is well-known among airplane aficionados for the conference tables, office furniture and decorative items, such as mirrors, it makes from old Boeing 747 engine turbofan housings, airplane wings and other bits of retired aircraft.

The company has recently expanded its line of offering to include serial-numbered luggage tags ($25 to $100) made from the skin of retired airplanes.

“We include the tail number of the aircraft so you can look up the history of your plane,” said Dave Hall of MotoArt Studios, “And it will tell you how much the aircraft originally cost, what year it was built and the airlines that flew it.”

Sniff, but don’t eat these purses

For fun – and for candy fans – American Jewel has a line of colorful, scented Jelly Belly-branded purses (wristlets), hairbrushes and bracelets.  Wristlet “flavors” include Blueberry Muffin, Birthday Cake, Rainbow Sherbert, Green Apple Bubblegum, Pink Lemonade, Roller Rink Pink and Tutti-Frutti.

Drink and Twist

Buying bottled water on the road at $5 (or more) a pop can get expensive, but packing an empty reusable water bottle to fill at the airport or in the hotel gym can take up valuable suitcase space.

A good fluid-carrying solution? Collapsible bottles, such as HydraPak’s clever 1 liter Stash model (MSRP: $23) which twists and crushes down to an easily-packable quarter of its size and comes in outdoor-inspired colors such as Malibu, Mojave, Mammoth and Sequoia.

Sit on this

 

Toronto-based Airopedic, which has been making ergonomic office furniture since the mid-1980s, has created a self-inflating, portable ergonomic seat to take to sports arenas, into airports, onto airplanes and to other places where comfortable seating isn’t reliably available.

The seat weighs in at 1.6 pounds, has carrying straps and mesh side pockets for storage and a pressure control button to enable seat density adjustments that the manufacturer suggests will make sitting on the Airopedic Portable Seat (MSRP: $65) feel like “sitting on a cloud.”

(My story about accessories and luggage from the 2017 International Travel Goods Show appeared in a slightly different version on CNBC.)

Packing for a trip? Do you fold or roll?

Blackpool Suitcase

When it’s time to hit the road, do you fold, roll, layer or squish? Do you make a packing list or just wing it?

Those are just a few of the questions Cheapflights.com recently asked travelers in a quick on-line survey.

Here’s what they found:

Just over 56 percent of Americans make packing lists and 77 percent plan or lay out outfits.

Forty-two percent of us start packing two to three days before leaving home and an another 30 percent start packing a week ahead of a trip.

26 percent admitted waiting until the night before a trip to start packing while just over 2 percent said they lived on the edge and and didn’t pack anything until a hour or less before leaving.

No doubt, those are people you see looking for a place to buy underwear at the airport.

Fold or roll?

70 percent of survey respondents said they folded clothes in their suitcases, while 30 percent said rolling was their method of choice.

And maybe it doesn’t really matter what you pack or how: only 45 percent of Americans reported that they ended up wearing everything they packed.