Sandman Clock

What seems so simple is sometimes anything but. The Sandman clock from Palo Alto Innovations is quite the cool gadget. It’s nothing fancy; it doesn’t play Bluetooth-streaming music, and it doesn’t have the one iPhone charger that will surely change in a year anyway. It has them all.

That’s why people love this alarm clock. It has a large digital interface that is easy to see from far away (don’t worry the lights automatically dim in the dark), but it also comes with chargers for all of your devices…to use simultaneously! No more scrambling for multiple power outlets or buying a power strip to hide away under a night stand.

What’s more is that this a great travel alarm clock because it is incredibly lightweight. I can simply plug it into the one wall socket found by most hotel beds and get everything charged at one time overnight. The power outlets are cleverly hidden in the back so that the clock does not appear cluttered.

There are four USB ports on the back, one of which offers a higher power charge. There’s an alarm clock with snooze function. This also allows me to unplug a hotel alarm clock, which I always fear is going to go off in the middle of the night because some are so confusing to make sure they are not set.

The Sandman clock retails for under $50 on the Palo Alto Innovations website and is a great addition to the frequent traveler’s arsenal of travel products. For those that like to stay put, it is perfect for a work desk because the charging cables are always neatly placed out of site.

Layer it up with Duckworth Women’s Vapor Relaxed Tank and Tunnel Hood

Wool isn’t only for winter. Known for keeping humans warm during cold-weather activities like skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, climbing, and merely existing outdoors, wool also has other properties that make for great travel clothing.

Two pieces that I’ve been using in winter and now, in warmer months, are Duckworth Women’s Vapor Relaxed Tank and Vapor Relaxed Tunnel Hood.

The natural fibers are highly breathable, allowing moisture to wick away from your skin, and they dry quickly. That leaves you comfortable, because you’re not cold and clammy in sweaty clothing, and it also helps when you have to do that on-the-road sink laundry.

And wool clothing doesn’t mean it’s heavy. These two pieces are lightweight and airy, ideal for layering items in colder weather, and wear-alone items when the temperatures climb. I’ve worn mine for skiing in various North American destinations, as well as hiking in the Himalayas, California, New Zealand and Jordan.

The relaxed casual fit of both pieces—tank and hoody—are great for comfort, and they pack incredibly small. That helps when you’re taking along only a carry-on bag, as well as if you just need an extra piece in your day pack, just in case.

All Duckworth wool pieces come from open-range Helle Rambouillet Montana merino sheep in Montana, who live between 5,000 feet and 9,500 feet of elevation. The specific conditions of the Northern Rockies result in a wool with a soft, durable fiber with exceptional loft and breathability.

For those who prefer to know the production process of their clothing, Duckworth carefully manages every step of the process, from selecting fleece in Montana, to production in the Carolinas—keeping everything within the United States.

The Duckworth Women’s Vapor Relaxed Tank comes in midnight, natural, and standard gray, and lists for $55 on the Duckworth site. The Women’s Vapor Tunnel Hood comes in garnet and midnight, and lists for $110 on the Duckworth site.

Summer hiking socks for the family


Each spring, we go through the drawers and make sure we have an inventory of hiking socks for the summer months. Obviously, we use these wool socks for hiking in, but we also use them for adventure travel, family vacations, and everyday use. Why? Wool and hybrid hiking socks wick moisture, keep feet cool, and are tough enough to last the summer. Here are some favorites we tested out this spring:

Bridgedale socks:

bridgedaleI wasn’t familiar with Bridgedale until this spring. I’m so glad I’m acquainted with them now, because their Trekker Jr quickly became my 12-year-old’s favorite sock. The Trekker Jr is a wool blend, made of wool, nylon, and Endurofil, which made them feel a little less ‘intense’ in the thick wool department for my son. He liked that they felt softer and stretchier than some of the wool socks already in his closet. The Trekker comes in colors that will appeal to both boys and girls, and has a three-year guarantee, a nice feature of Bridgedale.

We also tried out the men’s Trailhead sock, which was also a hit, this time with the teens. It’s a 3/4 crew sock, which they appreciate as they like a minimalist look, and like the Trekker, it’s a blend that feels soft on the foot. The Trailhead comes in two colors, but there are also more specialized socks to pick from, such as running specific socks and multi-sport.

Hi-Tec socks:

We’ve long been fans of Hi-Tec, which makes affordable, quality boots, shoes, and socks for everyone in the family. When kids jump through shoe and sock sizes as quickly as mine do, we need a brand like Hi-Tec! For the teens, we are loving the cushioned boot socks for travel, as they work equally well with hiking boots, cowboy boots, and ski boots. Since we travel to all types of climates, we need socks that can provide comfort with just about every type of shoe.

hi-tecFor women, the Hi-Tec performance hiking socks are super affordable at only $19 for a two pack on Amazon, and they are crew-length, so I can pull them up to protect my ankles when wearing hiking pants (necessary in our area with snakes and poison oak). When I travel, I usually have a pair or two in my bag, because the performance hiking socks are great for the airplane: not only do my feet stay warm in cold airplane cabins, but the arch support and slight compression helps my circulation. The more casual comfort lifestyle socks are even less for a two-pack, and feature spandex and a smooth toe seam so they are comfortable with multiple shoe types.

For additional ideas, check our Darn Tough guide!

A Clear Day Face Care Kit from LATHER

Frequent air travel can really damage and dry out your skin. As someone who also gets quite warm on planes, I am one to keep those air vents blasting at my face even on a 15-hour flight. That really does dry your skin, and I have been on the lookout for TSA-friendly skin care products that are not too expensive to try out.

The LATHER Clear Day Kit does a nice job of reminding me of all the things I need to do in one kit. All of the products are permitted in my carry-on, and while I have never personally used a face mask, it is an easy way to cleanse my skin after a day wandering the smoggy streets of Beijing or polluted air of Bangkok.

There are four products that come in this handy tin. The blemish control cleansing gel was the only one that I was most familiar with, and it’s an easy way to start or end my day. It’s also great to use in the shower, and the tall container means I am less likely to forget it (compared to other travel-sized products on the market). I liked the way my skin felt light and clean, but not fragrant after using it.

Shaving daily can really give your skin a workout, but the konjac facial sponge was surprisingly light and gentle on my skin. At first, I was worried it would be like finger nails on a chalkboard, but it was easy and comfortable to use. It is a great way to exfoliate the night before shaving.

I used the deep core cleansing mask mostly when I felt like I had really exposed my skin to a lot of dirt either by being outside or traveling for longer periods of time. The blemish control serum is a potent mixture that helps to keep pimples or other blemishes from flourishing, and I liked that it has so many natural ingredients (as LATHER products do).

This kit is a great gift, and the tin is a nice place to store all my items in one spot either when traveling or at home. It retails for $71 on the LATHER website, which is a bargain considering the individual cost of each item alone.