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Crumpler Red Dry Line No 2 and No 9

Crumpler

From the moment I laid eyes on Crumpler’s Red Dry No 9 rolling tote from their newest line, I could see its apeal to a solo or business traveler. First of all, it’s a looker. More importantly, its carry-on size is compact and includes all the bells and whistles you’d expect from Crumpler, such as a 17 inch laptop compartment (plus a second laptop sleeve!), no fewer than seven distinct storage sections, and functional, high-quality construction. But before I put it in use, I didn’t see how slick little No 9 would work for a family traveler with three kids in tow.

Turns out, Red Dry No 9 is a pretty near perfect carry-on for families, too. It’s easy to pull with its adjustable, hideaway handle (bye-bye, old rollie with the quirky wheel), is lightweight, and fits much more than you’d think. (The dimensions are 17.5×16.5×10.) You can use the No 9 as an in-air entertainment carry-all (using the aforementioned laptop sleeve), but even more useful: as a family ‘just in case’ case. Not familiar? We always pack essential toiletries, one set of sleepwear, and swimsuit (when applicable for our destination, of course) for each family member when traveling by air, to ward against lost or late luggage (not that that ever happens). To my surprise, using No 9′s dividable storage spaces (complete with elastic compression belts), I was able to fit in all of the above (plus my husband’s laptop), for five people. Due to the snap-fitted gussets on the sides of the bag, it opens 180 degrees ‘accordion’ style for when I needed to dig in to find something, which was inevitably on the bottom. Better yet, No 9 not only fit comfortably into our plane’s overhead luggage compartment, but fit under the seat. Three cheers for easy access!

Crumpler

Also in the new Red Dry line is Red Dry No 2, a nicely-sized shoulder bag (made, of course, with the same high quality construction as the No 9). It can be worn over the shoulder or across the body, and is designed with an iPad in mind. It’s a great companion piece to the No 9 (or any rolling tote), and due to its well-appointed front panel, could completely replace a purse. Travelers could easily carry on both the No 9 (packing a laptop and extra clothes) and the No 2 (packing an iPad, book, and a snack or two) and breeze past most airlines’ carry-on requirements with room to spare.

Bottom line: would I bring Red Dry No 9 and 2 on a family trip? No 9: yes. It would replace my laptop bag and probably a few of the kids’ backpacks, making our travel day far more streamlined. No 2: maybe. It’s not quite big enough to cater to an entire family’s in-flight needs and paperwork, but it could double as a day bag once at the destination. Plus, it’s unisex enough that a man could carry it (oh so chivalrously) for his wife. (Just saying.)

Crumpler Red Dry No 9 retails for $265, and No 2 is $90. Both are water-resistant, and the No 9 is lockable. Both are available at the Crumpler website, as are several check-in sized bags in the Red Dry line, should you want to supplement your carry-ons.

See other Crumpler products at Amazon

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Boingo Wireless subscriptions bring Wi-fi freedom to travelers

In case you haven’t heard, Wi-fi is all the rage these days. But what is not all the rage is providing it for free. Airports and hotels rake in big bucks by charging hefty fees for their Wi-fi signals, but there is a voice of reason for frequent travelers. Boingo Wireless is the industry’s leading provider of software and services worldwide and serves as a roaming partner for thousands of hotel and airport Wi-fi services among others.

Since sampling this service, I have been hooked. Despite traveling with my iPhone, there are times when I need to connect with my laptop and have little interest in spending $9.95 for a half hour of Internet usage. Boingo Wireless has packages good for a month or a year, for example, that make frequent travelers’ Internet use far more user-friendly.

A recent positive change to the offering is that members with the monthly plan can now log into multiple devices with a single account. This includes up to two devices simultaneously with additional devices possible for $5 each per month.

In addition to airports and hotels, Boingo has signals in restaurants, shopping areas, sporting arenas, convention centers, and other public hot spots.

Boingo will broadcast its own “Boingo Hotspot” SSID and fully manage the end user experience through walled garden sales pages and gateway hardware or make it available to roaming partners iPass, KT, NTT Communications, Optimus, Orange France, Skype, Sprint, Swisscom, Telefonica, TeliaSonera, and Verizon as part of Boingo’s neutral host approach to managing Wi-Fi hotspots. The latter is what is especially valuable for international travelers.

At the moment, Boingo has a total of 60 airport Wi-Fi networks under management including top 25 airports Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare, London Heathrow, New York John F. Kennedy, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, and Houston George Bush Intercontinental, as well as European airports London Gatwick, London Stansted, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Southampton, Aberdeen and Zurich.

Signing up for this service pays for itself after forking over for a few nights of Internet in hotels each month (maybe after one night), and it takes the sting out of connecting to email or the Internet for short periods of time. It is one of my traveling power tools that I have come to rely on across the globe.

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Toddy Smart Cloth by ToddyGear

ToddyGear Smart Cloth

While I like to think that my hands are always clean, it’s quite surprising when I turn off my iPad or iPhone and see the black screen covered in fingerprint smudges. They were not there when I was using it or perhaps I just could not see them?! Like eyeglasses, smart phone screens, with their touch screen technology, are particularly sensitive and should be cleaned with only a certain type of cloth to protect the screen.

Whether the smudges are the result of finger swipes or residue from snacks being eaten at the same time, the Toddy Smart Cloth does a brilliant job of removing dirt from any surface. Before I began using it, I was cleaning the screen with paper towels or even my shirt. This could have actually been scratching the screen or desensitizing it to the touch screen technology that I have come to know and love.

The Toddy cloth is small enough to wad up and stuff in a briefcase pocket and use when needed. It comes in a variety of stylish fabric designs adding a bit of flair to the screen-cleaning routine. One side is a decorative silk while the other has a microfiber surface allowing gentle swipes or more substantial scrubs to absorb oil, dust and smudges without harming the screen.

It has a patented antimicrobial coating that prevents the spread of germs and bacteria, which is especially important when traveling. The cloth also works perfectly to wipe smudges from my laptop, desktop computer, and even my eyeglasses making it the perfect all-in-one travel accessory.

When I return from a trip, I toss it in the washing machine to clean it. One of the most exciting features is that it can be imprinted with the photo or logo of your choice making it a great gift or corporate giveaway. The Toddy Smart Cloth goes with me everywhere now and is affordable enough to get one for different travel occasions or business situations. They can be purchased directly from Toddy Gear or on Amazon.

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Verbatim Tuff-N-Tiny USB Drive

Verbatim Tuff-N-Tiny USB Drive

This teensy travel accessory from Verbatim is the heftiest lifesaver I can carry with me. After having a few laptop challenges (everything from a stolen laptop to one that would not turn on at all), I quickly realized the need to protect my data by either emailing it to myself or storing it on a USB drive. The problem I kept having is that the thumb nail drives kept falling in between other things in my bag and became hard to reach. The benefit of this tiny drive is that I can place it on my keychain making it much easier to find in a hurry.

It is created from a durable material that makes it resistant to water and dust while also protecting it from external damage. It still has a lifetime warranty for unforeseen circumstances and is compatible with all USB drives.

As the smallest USB drive that I have ever seen, it is not clunky to have on my keychain and does not stick out from the side of my computer very far. Larger USB drives are easy to knock out of the socket if you are constantly moving your computer on a cramped airplane traytable or hotel room desk so this smaller version gives added comfort.

On the underside of the drive, it appears that the USB contacts are open to the elements that could lead to damage, but the protective plastic coating keeps it secure. A bonus lanyard allows it to hang freely from your cell phone or other handy device that you might carry all the time. For me, it serves as an excellent reminder that I need to constantly back up my data onto the drive so it is an extra bonus. It also makes it easier to keep track of since this device is very small.

There is a password protection feature on the stick for those using Windows operating systems. This small business tool packs a big punch storing 16GB of material in its tiny brain. It can be purchased from Verbatim directly or on Amazon for under $30.

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Smartfish Whirl Mini Laser Mouse

My laptop is always at my side, but my hand and wrist can get tired from curling it up on the edge of my computer. Since testing out this small Smartfish Whirl Mini Laser mouse, the aches that could very well be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome tendencies have subsided. The current design of keyboards was never created with your joint health in mind. They prevent complete circulation and flexibility, which is what leads to the feeling of discomfort.

This is where the Smartfish mini laser mouse helps to improve upon that deficiency. It features a comfort pivot system that follows the natural position of your hands. For travelers, the small size of this product is what makes it so endearing as it takes up little additional room in your bag (the bulky size of other mouses has kept me from traveling with them in the past).

Smartgish Whirl Mini Mouse

The mouse is easy to sync with your laptop as it just requires a few minutes of setup by plugging it into the USB port on your computer. It pivots forward and backward and side to side giving it the same range of motion that your hand would naturally have. Other computer mouse products have a simple fixed position motion that adds to the strain on your hand and wrist. Dubbed ErgoMotion, the pivot system on this mouse gives it an immediate response time while maximizing comfort due to its light weight.

The scroll wheel rolls in four different directions. It’s stylish too thanks to a range of color choices like red, blue, and black. Overall, the mouse measures in at about 6 inches wide and 4 inches across. It is 2.4 GHz wireless allowing more responsive action to your hand motions and uses two AAA batteries as a power source. After having used it vigorously for a month, the battery life has been very impressive.

Compatible with both PCs and Macs, this mouse makes a perfect gift for work colleagues. As I strive to upgrade my comfort and productivity levels when I travel, this ergonomic mouse is a step up for both my joint health and my work routine.

Check Smartfish Whirl Mini prices online.

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