Dec. 6, 2008 -- This year's best travel gadgets include a rash of new smartphones (iPhone, G1, Blackberry Storm, etc.) that offer revolutionary mobile solutions such as Google Maps Google Maps. However, if you're not prepared to shell out the dough for one of these tech treats, look for more lifestyle-geared gifts that will suit someone's individual M.O.
If you know a germaphobe, gadget geek, foodie or frequent flier, check out the following under $100 ideas. From toothbrush sanitizers and solar chargers to shiatsu massage pillows and wine label lifters, you're sure to find a gift to ease their journeys and please their personalities.
Travel Gifts for Clean Freaks and Groomers
For germaphobes traveling can be a nightmare. From hotel drinking glasses to airplane blankets, there's unfortunately good reason to fear.
Help put their nerves at ease with the new iZap Tooth Brush Sanitizer ($20) from Violight. Using ultraviolet technology this small battery-powered case destroys up to 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria on your brush. Now that's reason to breath easier.
As your trip rolls on, dirty clothes and shoes can start to make your luggage a little gnarly. Flight001's Go Clean cases are treated to hold dirt and grime inside, keeping the rest your stuff safe from stains, smells and moisture. Choose from mildew-resistance wet suit sacks to oversize boot bags, or choose the Go Clean set ($55) which includes a laundry bag, two shoe bags and a "stuff" bag to keep miscellaneous items organized.
For those who need to look polished on the road the new Miniemergency Kit ($12) will be a lifesaver. More compact than a cupcake, this case includes 16 miniaturized emergency essentials from hairspray and dental floss, to double-sided tape and earring backs. Its small enough to fit into an evening clutch or glove compartment, and larger Shemergency and Hemergency kits are also available.
Gadget Geeks On the Go
Photo Courtesy: Netflix, Roku; GorillaPod, Joby; solio, Flight 001
Movie lovers will be obsessed with the new Roku NetFlix Set Top Box ($99.99), and with good reason. This little black square allows NetFlix subscribers to stream NetFlix movies directly to their TVs and is easily portable to take on trips. No discs required! No extra fees involved. WIRED magazine editor Daniel Dumas calls it "dead simple to use."
For photo fiends try the GorillaPod ($55). This bendy yet sturdy device hooks up to almost all digital cameras, so you can get a steady shot without having to find a flat surface. "It may look like a toy for your desk, but it's actually an ingenious camera tripod whose twisty legs grab onto anything from railings to doorknobs," says Peter Frank, editor of Concierge.com.
Greenies will go wild for the Solio Hybrid Charger ($95). This new small, lightweight Solio can power virtually any personal electronic device, including most mobile phones, MP3 players, and GPS units, with simple sunshine. Best of all, it can also plug into the USB port of any computer for an electric boost.
To Help Foodies Get Around
Photo Courtesy: Mappetite; WineSkin
Help foodies find their way with the new Mappetite guide books ($14). These portable pop outs open out to reveal detailed neighborhood maps with restaurant reviews and advice on what to do. Editions currently include New York and London, and San Francisco is on its way. "I like them for the clever design and for the way they meld practical information with personal recommendations," said Peter Frank, Editor-in-Chief of Concierge.com.
Traveling with wine is tricky. Magellan's Travel offers a variety of solutions, such as Wineskin ($10). The lightweight and durable case has a bubble wrap padding interior to absorb shock on the glass and two sticky seals prevent wine from leaking you're your suitcase.
For a memorable bottle of wine that you don't want to drag home, try Label Lift ($10). The clear sticky sheets peel the top printed layer of a wine label from its adhesive backing, simultaneously laminating it so you can keep it as a souvenir.
Gift Ideas for Frequent Fliers
Photo Courtesy: Magellan's
For those who regularly slog thousands of miles in the air look for lightweight, portable comforts to ease their journeys. The Massaging Travel Neck Pillow ($25) will provide a soothing in-flight massage to help you doze off to sleep. Unlike stiff, inflatable pillows this one is filled with soft micro-beads to mold to your head and neck. The battery-operated device has six massage modes and weighs just 13 oz.
Those with bad backs will love the Shiatsu to Go ($25) . The portable pack features four pulsating pressure points that will prod your back, neck, legs or feet. Best of all, it deflates for quick and easy packing.
Beat the mid-flight freeze with 12-Hour Heated Socks ($25). These wool and Thermostat® socks keep your tootsies toasty with a thin battery-powered heating pad under your toes. They'll run up to 12 hours before they turn off automatically and offer a high and low setting so you won't overheat.