Spotted at Las Vegas Travel Goods Show

I spent a long day walking the aisles of the 2013 Travel Goods Show underway this week in Las Vegas. Here are few fun items I encountered along the way.

Flight 001

Everyone travelers needs – and probably has – some power adapters. Flight 001 has created a set that is not only fun to look at but easy to figure out how to use.

Travel Goods_Sponge Bob

Booth after booth is filled with really cool suitcases and travel packs for kids. I got a kick out the 3D roller bags and backpacks from MAXTOYUSA

Travel Goods FLANABAGS

These AirQuart travel bags from Flanabags are not only made in the USA (Massachusetts and South Carolina), they are stylish and see-through, sturdier than those zippered sandwich bags and easier to clean.

Travel Goods_Concealment

Safety is always a big issue for travelers and there are loads of travel bags and accessories designed to improve safety and security for you and your belongings. For those who want to keep their valuables close by, shirts, belly bands, socks, underpants and other products from Travel Safe Products all have concealment pockets that offer a good option.

More fun – and some wacky – travel gear to come…

Museum Monday: Katharine Wright’s pantaloons

I’m racing to finish up the entries for my Hidden Museum Treasures book, which will feature the stories behind objects in museums that are rarely or never displayed.

When the project began, I put a call out seeking nominations from museums around the country. The International Women’s Air & Space Museum in Cleveland, Ohio was one of the first to respond with a hidden treasure that belonged to Katharine Wright.

Most people know the story of Orville and Wilbur Wright and their game-changing, 12-second airplane flight over Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on the morning of December 17, 1903.

Orville and Wilbur certainly deserve their place in aviation history, but they didn’t get there alone. Although she didn’t tinker with the planes, for many year’s Orville and Wilbur’s younger sister, Katharine, served as a sounding board, social secretary, housekeeper, marketing manager and ambassador for her brothers, making it possible for her notoriously shy brothers to attend to their aviation work full-time.

Sometimes referred to as “the third Wright Brother,” Wright’s story and her role in the birth and growth of aviation is among those told at the International Women’s Air & Space Museum, along with the stories of Amelia Earhart, Bessie Coleman, Harriet Quimby,  Jackie Cochran and many others.

Memorabilia in the Katherine Wright collection includes many items donated by the Wright family, including embroidered pillow cases, Limoges china, a strand of pearls and a lace dickey. “We even have postcards that ‘Aunt Katharine’ sent from Germany when ‘the boys’ were visiting with Count Zeppelin,” said collections manager Cris Takacs.

The museum also has the dress Katharine Wright wore when she accompanied her brothers to the White House on June 10, 1909 when they were presented the AreoClub of America gold award. Included with that dress are split-crotch knickers, or pantaloons, she likely wore underneath the dress that day.

The dress is displayed at the museum, but not the knickers. “As far as I know, they are the only knickers in our collection,” said Takacs. “I’m surprised the family would keep them and send them to us, but we have not displayed them because there are still some members of the Wright family around,” she said. “I don’t think it would be appropriate,” said a museum board member who helped put together the Katharine Wright exhibit.

Here they are:

And .. here’s the dress:

Photos courtesy the International Women’s Air & Space Museum.

Pickpocket-proof undies & other gear to protect your valuables

A long-planned adventure can quickly turn to mush if a pickpocket makes off with your passport, cash, credit cards or keys.

“We get reports fairly regularly about wallets going missing and things being taken from purses,” said Mike Kelly, president and CEO of On Call International, a company that provides travel assistance and emergency medical evacuation services. “It seems to happen a lot in heavy tourist zones in London, Italy and even some Asian countries. One expert believes that in Rome more than 300 tourists get their pockets picked each day.”

To protect yourself, Kelly and others suggest staying hyper alert in touristy areas, leaving valuables at home or in a hotel safe and making sure purses and wallets are secure and out of sight. Many experienced travelers and former pickpocket victims also swear by a variety of thief-thwarting travel gear.

In addition to a line of widely available line anti-theft and safety-savvy wallets, backpacks, shoulder bags, purses, pouches and other items made by Pacsafe, here are some other potentially pickpocket-proof products.

 Travel bands

 Beth Whitman, founder of the travel website Wanderlust and Lipstick and Wandertours, likes the body bands for women offered by Dovetail Travel in Peace.

The collection includes two products: The Travel Band, which is a waistband that wraps around your hips, and the Travel Wing, which is a pocket worn against your back and over your bra. “These aren’t meant to replace a money pouch that you’d want to have easy access to,” said Whitman, “But both are great options for times when you want to keep your valuables safe and don’t need to access them.”

The Dovetail set (Travel Band, Travel Wing, portfolio and carry-case) is $48 and available at Dovetail Travel in Peace.

Pickpocket-proof pants

 After a run-in with a team of pickpockets in Xian, China Adam Rapp decided he wanted travel pants that provided the security of a money-belt. His answer: pick-pocket proof shorts and long pants called P^cubed. “All our hip pockets have the ability to be single or double secured and our rear left cargo pocket has an internal passport sized pocket which would give you triple security,” said Rapp. “In order for a pick-pocket to get into that pocket – they would have to undo 2 zippers and 2 buttons.”

Currently available only in men’s sizes (a women’s line should be available by September 2012), P^cubed pants are available from Clothing Arts, in many outerwear stores and in major travel catalogs. Price: about $80 to $110.

Pickpocket-proof skivvies

After having her pockets picked repeatedly during several years of travel, Johanna Denize created a line of underwear with hidden pockets. “I had tried money belts, neck pouches and even hiding my money in my socks, but wasn’t happy with those solutions,” she said. Panties with hidden pockets work because “no one but the person wearing our clothes will ever know where the valuables are hidden.”

Denize’s products includes a boy short for women and a boxer brief for men, both with two pockets with secure zippers on the front, as well as T-shirts, tank tops and Long Johns with pockets. There are available on Clever Travel Companion () or Amazon. Price: about $25-$35.
Pocket-enhanced panties and briefs are also offered by Stashitware. “They come with a huge dedicated pocket that is easily accessible for placement of items or retrieval of items,” said company owner Philip Scott. “When properly worn and used they are pickpocket proof.”

Scott said his instructional video , “scares most viewers,” (it shows everything from cash, cigarettes, condoms, cell phones and lighters being hidden away) but he insists it “does prove the holding capacity and ease of access of the pocket underwear.”

Stashitware styles include men’s boxers, women’s briefs, bikinis and thongs (Price: $5.50 to $12) and are available are available on the Stashitware  website.

(My story about pickpocket-proof pants first appeared on msnbc.com’s Overhead Bin)

Proper flying attire: baggy pants or hotpants?

I really can’t tell you what thrilled me more today. The photo (above) that Jill Tarlow took of a fellow airline passenger and shared with The San Francisco Chronicle as part of the national discussion about proper flying attire – or all the other photos of this man people began sending me after I wrote about about him on msnbc.com’s Overhead Bin (What will get you kicked off US Airways? Saggy pants or underpants?)

Jessica Villardi took this photo in May

Sean Stecker spotted him in Phoenix around Christmas

And someone else snapped him in this fetching outfit in Baltimore.

You can read more about the mystery man here, but no matter what you think of his outfits, he – and the University of New Mexico football player recently arrested at San Francisco International Airport for allegedly refusing to follow a US Airways crew members’ request to hike up his saggy pants – are fueling a fresh debate about the rights of passengers at the airport and in the air.

No underwear at Schiphol’s Victoria’s Secret

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is now home to what may be Europe’s first branch of Victoria’s Secret but, save for the photos on the walls, don’t go there expecting to spot any of the brand’s sexy lingerie.

Even though much of the underwear they’re known for is quite tiny, this small VS shop is only stocking fragrances, make-up and assorted branded accessories.

Washington’s Reagan National Airport branch of Victoria’s Secret is long gone, but if you’re a fan of the brand, you’ll find outlets at these airports:

Mexico City Airport Terminal D
Brazil-Sao Paulo Airport Terminal A
Miami International Airport Terminal D
Carrasco Airport Terminal D
Schipol Airport Amsterdam Terminal 3
JFK Airport Terminal 4
Ezieza Airport Terminal D (Buenos Aires)
Bangkok International Airport
Sydney International Airport
Kuwait Airport

And you’ll find an art installation inspired by the Victoria’s Secret catalog at Port Columbus Gateway to The Arts, an exhibition space at Ohio’s Port Columbus International Airport.