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Smart Gear for Smart Travel

Published: 01/05/2015 - Filed under: Home » Archive » 2015 » May 2015 » Special Reports » Home » Features »

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At the Travel Goods Show 2015 in Las Vegas this month, business travel was in focus with security protections and bag tracking services that might better fit a protégé of James Bond than an account manager en route to a damage control meeting in Singapore. 

Every year, this trade show is the spotlight for luggage, travel accessories, travel gadgets, comfort items and portability convenience. But at this year’s event, it was the locks, the anti-theft controls and the penetration protection that got all the attention, whether the item was for carrying money, passports, computers or one’s favorite pair of socks. 

RFID is a big word these days around bags and wallet designs. Radio Frequency Identification technology is used to track sensitive data in such travel necessities as credit cards and passports. However, it can be easily scanned by passing doers of nefarious deeds. Thus the rise of RFID blocking materials infused into the fabric of objects likely to be carrying these chips – it can go a long way in blocking ID theft without adding in weight or cost. 

Passports and credit cards can be well protected with a convenient passport holder called iPassport, made by iWallet. The item offers biometric fingerprint locking as well as RFID blocking and Bluetooth tracking (through Smartphone pairing) – even giving an alert beep when the item leaves a pre-defined perimeter. 

Locked & Loaded 

Most luggage manufacturers at this trade show offered locks – lots of locks. Some of them are made to accommodate a TSA key and others require a series of passwords and fingerprint checks managed through a smartphone app. 

One such company is Hontus, a shining star this year hailing from Milan but distributed in the US through Planet Traveler. They put their new Space Case 1 models in a Plexiglas column to be seen but not touched. The shiny, lightweight roller comes with a built-in biometric lock, global tracking, auto-weight sensors, a lithium charging pack, and, if you have to start the party before you even hang up your coat – Bluetooth speakers. You will need to download a proprietary app for most of that functionality. 

Similarly, Andiamo introduced IQ, a lightweight “smart bag” that runs with a remote locking device, built-in digital scale, secured WiFi hotspot and slots for global SIM card use for international connectivity, compact charging batteries, and distance alerts to track luggage at airports and hotels. All is managed through a multi-use travel app that offers packing tips and other travel-enhancing features. 

Travelers who want to track their luggage and not worry about the other bells and whistles can use services such as LugLoc, which uses Bluetooth and GSM technology but costs $70 plus additional usage fees. For the more frugal, Trakdot is a bit cheaper with annual service fees of $20 in addition to the $50 gadget price.

For those who would rather wear their things than check them, Stuffa displayed a line of vests and jackets with as many as a dozen stuffable compartments for clothing and accessories, providing plenty of padding and convenience for the traveler who doesn’t mind looking like an egg. 

And for those road warriors who do not want to unpack at all, an expandable suitcase from extends up a few feet from the bag into four shelf compartments where folded sweaters and pants can be managed and other garments pack easily into an array of accessible pockets. 

Airport potatoes who like to peel into projects while they wait for a flight can invest in the Travel Office. This is luggage from JML Innovations that turns a suitcase into a desk. The platform pulls out of a thin back pocket on the case and expands into ample flat and un-angled space for a laptop, a mouse and even an outboard keyboard or papers. Chess games, too, fit neatly. 

The piece is equipped with an ever-important stabilizing mechanism at the base, which holds the suitcase in place and ensures it doesn’t tip and topple your laptop. Coffee is safe with Travel Office. 

Rest Awhile

As for travel comforts, Travel Goods 2015 was stuffed with everything from cushiony armrests to handy, palm-sized electrode massage gizmos for instant relief.

For flight comfort, Restahead out of Denmark showcased a headrest solution distributed through Victorinox and marketed as the HeadRest for about $20. It folds into a sort of tent-shaped hammock for the neck, hitting accu-pressure points to relax the neck. It can also serve as a roll-up pillow for lower back support, while weighing less than a cuppa joe and folding into a bratwurst-sized roll for storage.

Another headrest for the plane is the Hypnap, a neatly folded, lightweight triangle contraption that expands into what looks like the mantis-shaped headrest portion of a portable, forward-leaning massage chair. The user fixes the adjustable Hypnap to the tray table, leans into the padded plastic rim and, voila! Let the relaxation begin. 

Travelers can turn their flight pillow into a fashion accessory with the SleeperScarf. The cotton wrap contains an inflatable pillow and comes in an assortment of colors. Passengers simply wear their scarf, inflate the pillow part wherever they may be sitting and then drape the scarf portion around them like a blanket. 

Finally, purses are always a big draw at these shows and the focus is usually on security, durability and zipper designs (finding a travel purse that won’t fall off or bunch up on shoulders, however, is a continued challenge). 

What was somewhat new this year, however, was the cool charger purse. Cool was the operative word for Urban Junket, which outfits their lines with a special power source built into the purse design. The battery, called the Joey, stays in a case that keeps it cool and attaches to a convenient input/output device that can charge phones and tablets on the go or plug into a computer for further charging. 

The durable device is TSA-safe and keeps a charge for up to 10 days, good enough for two full phone charges. Further, it is removable and can be used with other purses. The line of products is aimed at females and the totes are fashioned from reconstituted plastic bottles. 

For those who need more comfort, more protection or more organization, there is an unending source of inspiration in this field catering to everyone from C.I.A. spooks to desert backpackers. Everyone can use an extra dose of comfort in what one carries.  

Rolling Road Warriors

Ten Business Traveler Picks to Pack

Gate8: Tri-fold Cabin Bag

This is a carryon garment bag with full service zip-away laptop bag. Good for trips of up to three days. Take on airplane and zip off computer case to place under seat. Compliant across all airlines for carry-on use. Separate compartments for accessories, hanging garments and shoes. 

$235 Visit

Luggage Protect

Protection for expensive luggage need not be expensive. Luggage Protect wraps luggage with strong plastic reusable sheath while providing openings for wheels and handles for easy transport. No stains from the planes when using this luggage cover. 

Five sizes and configurations starting at $24.95. Visit

3 EGeetouch Smartlock

The dial-wheel or keyed padlock that keeps bad guys out of your luggage can also keep you from your stuff, if you suffer from the all-too-common hassle of forgetting the 3-digit combination code or lose the key. eGeeTouch’s smart locks require no key, no digit-wheels dialing and no code memorizing. Simply tap a paired smartphone, smartwatch, or any paired near-field communication-enabled device to secure and unlock luggage. A built-in TSA approved key lock for US airports is also included. 

Also available in padlock form. Visit

4 iQ by Andiamo

The versatile iQ by Andiamo is a fun version of a “smart bag” unveiled at the Travel Goods Show to potentially lead the category. The lightweight, aluminum and wired up roller bags require the downloading of an app that allow for remote locking and unlocking, digital scale readout, battery recharging for devices, alerts if the case is moved more than 100 feet away from you or if it is coming down the ramp, destination information and a complement of WiFi hot spot services, including global data access with Local SIM card. iQ will be available in Fall 2015. 

Carryon size only. $599. Visit

ChargerLeash beeping Device Charger

An easy solution to leaving your device charger at the hotel while on the road or back at home when it should be in your briefcase is a phone charging cable that beeps when you remove the item it is charging. The ChargerLeash is designed to rapidly charge devices that it connects to a USB plug and also quickly syncs up devices plugged into a computer. A snooze feature can silence the cable, but that is reset to audio the minute it is once again connecting a USB port to a device. Various connector heads available for Apple, Samsung, Android, Blackberry and Windows. 

From $14.99.


Losing your bag is a menace of decades past with smart luggage apps coming online. One of those is LugLoc, which simply combines GSM and Bluetooth technology to keep suitcase and owner connected at all times. The device is registered with LugLoc after downloading a $7 app (which comes with free traces for first two weeks, $29.99 for unlimited traces annually). It’s then charged, turned on, paired and an accompanying luggage tag is placed on the handle of the suitcase. Coming off the luggage carousel, a smartphone’s Bluetooth will alert that the bag is near. The battery charge on a LugLoc lasts for 15 days. 

$69.  Visit 

7  TAB Seatback Pocket Organizer

WALTER + RAY’s TAB Seatback Pocket Organizer may be the next new thing in creating space in small seats if the Kickstarted company takes it to the next level. The item offers a magnetic tab that secures the organizer to the inside of the seat pocket or buckles that affix it to the tray table. It has myriad pockets for devices and a paper-sized zipper case for documents. It comes in neon green so you won’t forget it and the item virtually vanquishes the threat of personal items getting lost and disappearing down the black hole of the seatback pocket – also considered to be one of the germiest spots on an airplane. 

Costs will range from $50 to $150, depending on the material. The item is expected to be available at the end of May.  Visit

Kriss Kross Traveler Organized Purse

This eye-catching geometric patterned purse puts pocket and zippers in the right places for easy access to items without having to dig through the dark holes of purse purgatory. The bag features a simple and handsome design with three panels front and back that create a criss-cross effect, while an interior compartment divides the bag into a total of three sections.Find pen sleeves, a hanging key clasp, special compartments for keys, cell phone and ID, checkbook, wallet & other essentials. A zippered pocket running the full width of bag provides plenty of additional storage space. 

Nylon with leather trim and available in three colors. $100. Visit

And to hang that purse, or any other lightweight bag that you do not want to place on the floor, a Hookup from Fafa may be in order. The heart-shaped hook looks like purse jewelry and may just be carried and employed when needed, at restaurants and offices, as an elegant handbag hook that connects a bag to a table or chair with ease. 

Comes in various colors, including 22k gold finish. Starting at $45. Visit

Roll Your Suits with SkyRoll 

SkyRoll offers an intelligent garment-hanging system that allows passengers to roll up their suits into a suitcase or carryon configuration to take a variety of clothing and accessories without wrinkling the all-important suit complement. SkyRoll Garment Bags roll hanging items around an inner tube. The flat garment bag takes hanging items plus folded shirts and other folded clothing in outside zipper compartments. The roll provides space for shoes, toilet back and other bulk. Also comes as a suitcase-sized rollie wrapping around a spacious oblong tube. 

Starting at $249. Visit

10 Royce Leather Tracker

Misplaced wallet mishaps are a thing of the past with this easy tracking device. The Royce Leather tracker is a flat shiny chip container that fits into the credit card pocket of a wallet or passport holder. RFID blocking material stops thieves from fraudulently nabbing personal information while the Bluetooth enabled device connects to your mobile phone for finding your wallet when it’s within 100 feet of the phone. Meanwhile, GPS capabilities reveal the last known location of a wallet that may have been lost elsewhere. 

The tracker can be sold separately or with handsome leather wallet, from $40 to $100. Visit

By Lark Gould

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