Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio May
BY ROGER SLAVENS
New gadgets&Safe skies&Foreign tongues
For packing ease, noise relief and coffee anywhere, try
Every year, new products hit the shelves, promising to make the
business traveler’s life easier. Here’s the cream of the recent
crop.Packing it in. Struggles to pack more
efficiently cease with Eagle Creek Travel Gear’s Pack-It system (www.eaglecreek.com). Pack-It
Folders ($12 to $36) hold folded shirts and pants in a nylon and
mesh envelope that keeps them separate from other items in the
suitcase and protects them from wrinkling. Pack-It Cubes hold loose
items, like socks and underwear; the cubes come in two sizes ($12
to $15).Music to our ears. Hotel rooms are never as
quiet as home. Traffic, noisy neighbors, ice machines and elevators
tend to be the culprits. The TSC-330 Marsona Sound Conditioner from
Marpac Corp. (www.marpac.com) helps drown out those
sleep thieves. Just select a calming environmental background sound
(like “rainfall” or “surf”), turn up the volume and settle in for
the night. The unit, priced at $89, comes with a dual-voltage power
pack and nylon travel pouch.
When ear troubles arise from rapid changes in airplane cabin
pressure, travelers can slip in soft, silicone Earplanes by Cirrus
Air Technologies (www.earplanes.com/earplane.htm)
before takeoff and landing. Porous ceramic elements in the plugs
slow down the pressure changes, giving eustachian tubes more time
to equalize the pressure between the middle ear and the cabin. One
pair of Earplanes is good for two flights and costs $4.75; for 10
or more pairs, the price is $4 per pair.In-room salvation. Two innovative products
from Franzus (203-723-6664) should make helpful travel companions.
The Franzus Travel Smart Coffeemaker brews two 5-ounce cups of
coffee using an autodrip system and a permanent mesh filter. The
coffeemaker comes with two cups, a measuring scoop and containers
for coffee, sugar and creamer, all of which fit inside the pot. It
weighs a little more than a pound and retails for about $25.
For worldwide travelers, the Franzus four-in-one
Converter/Adapter employs new “auto adjust” technology that
automatically senses and selects the proper power setting (50 watts
to 1,650 watts) for each travel appliance. It has five adapter
plugs and a circuit breaker with a reset button that corrects
accidental overloads. It works in most countries and costs $49.Lockout. Are hotel room door locks reliable?
Many security experts recommend bringing your own. The compact
Traveler’s Door Lock from Magellan’s (www.magellans.com) adapts to most
door designs at home and abroad, holding doors closed with its
stable hook and adjustable sliding plate. Measuring 4.5 inches long
and weighing just 4 ounces, the door lock includes a Prestolock
three-dial, set-it-yourself combination lock, which also can be
used to lock dresser drawers, and costs $12.85.
SAFE YEAR FOR U.S. CARRIERS
In 1998, for the first year ever, no passenger who flew in any type
of U.S. commercial aircraft anywhere in the world was fatally
injured, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. As
of March 1999, the most recent fatal air accident occurred on Dec.
28, 1997, when a woman suffered a head injury after a United
Airlines plane hit turbulence during a flight between Tokyo and
That spate of good fortune did not extend to international
carriers, however; many Americans died when Swissair Flight 111
crashed off Nova Scotia in September 1998.
In 1993, no one died in a U.S. jetliner, but there were
fatalities in smaller commuter planes.
TALKING THE TALK
For those who want to learn the language of the country to which
they are traveling, Berlitz and the Learning Company offer Passport
to 31 Languages, a new computer program that aims to help users
master the basics of 31 tongues. The four-step program works like
First, choose your native language and the foreign one you want
to learn. Second, pick a topic and learn key vocabulary by viewing
pictures, reading the words and hearing them pronounced. Next, try
speaking, and the program’s speech-recognition technology
(available only in Spanish, French, German, Italian and English)
evaluates your pronunciation. And, finally, the learning is
reinforced with a number of activities. The three-CD package comes
with a CD atlas and costs $29.95 (www.berlitz.com).
Roger Slavens is a contributing editor to Frequent
Flyer magazine, a sister publication of M&C. This
article was adapted from Frequent Flyer.
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