There's nothing like a vacation to help everyone recharge — but there's nothing like a bout of traveler's diarrhea to put a crimp in your trip. Or a bad sunburn. Or wanting a doctor... but not being able to find one. To the rescue: the travel essentials worth toting to keep your trip easy — and fun.
1. A HAT THAT SHIELDS YOU IN STYLE
Channel your inner fashionista with this Coolibar packable wide-brim hat। Unlike the average hat, which offers an SPF of 6 to 10, this version protects you with an SPF of 50 — and it springs back into shape after being stuffed in a suitcase or tote.
2. A TOOTHBRUSH THAT HAS IT ALL
Forget grubby, hard-to-clean toothbrush cases। Just turn the dial on fresh&go's toothbrush to dispense the paste — the handle holds 2 weeks' worth — then snap the cap back on to keep contaminants at bay.
3. A PILL CASE THAT REMINDS YOU
If someone in your family is packing meds, help her stay on schedule with E-pill 7-Day Organizer and Reminder, a case that sorts medicine by time and day. It includes an alarm that beeps when a dose is due or missed. Program up to 37 alerts; they'll reset automatically at midnight.
4. TOILETRIES THAT LIGHTEN YOUR LOAD
Leave bulky bottles at home: Travelon toiletry sheets won't weigh down your bags. Simply add water to a paper-thin sheet, which dissolves into hand soap, shampoo — even laundry detergent! The cases are smaller than a deck of cards.
5. A NECKLACE THAT STORES EMERGENCY INFO
This password-protected "thumb drive" holds electronic versions of medical histories, prescriptions, emergency contact info, and more. Use the Portable Travel Profile to print out copies — or have a doctor plug it into any computer if you're hospitalized.
6. HEADWEAR THAT KEEPS YOU COOL AND BURN FREE
The High UV Protection Buff headpiece is a seamless, moisture-wicking tube of fabric that can be worn at least 12 different ways and offers 95% UV protection. Dip it into cold water and loop it around your neck to keep from overheating on a hike, or fold it into a sweatband for yoga — the CoolMax fabric dries in less than an hour.
7. PILLS THAT BANISH BLOAT
Everything from harried airport eating to changes in altitude can make you bloated while flying. For insurance against painful gas, take two Charco-Caps before takeoff. Unlike other products that break down gas bubbles, studies show that the charcoal in these pills attracts and traps gas, which makes the remedy an even better way to head off an embarrassing problem.
8. EARPLUGS THAT EASE PRESSURE
Flying is painful if you're congested or have sensitive ears, so pop in a pair of EarPlanes before your plane leaves the runway. Filters inside the silicon plugs regulate air pressure to keep you comfy during ascent and descent. A pair of the disposable plugs is good for a round-trip flight.
9. SOCKS THAT WARD OFF BLOOD CLOTS
If your legs swell during long flights, these circulation-enhancing socks can help. They're tight in the right places to increase blood flow, reducing your risk of deep-vein thrombosis, a dangerous blood clot more likely to occur during periods of immobility. Your odds of DVT go up if you recently had surgery, have a family history of the condition or a genetic predisposition to clots — or, simply, if you've had your 60th birthday.
10. A PATCH TO PREVENT SUNBURN
Before you go hiking or lounge on the beach, apply a SunSignal sticker. The bandagelike patch turns from yellow to dark orange when you've hit your limit on UVB, so you won't get a dose that raises the risk of skin cancer.
11. A BRACELET THAT REPELS BUGS
The geraniol in BugBand bracelets, towelettes, and sprays is the strongest plant-based bug repellent out there. Independent studies show that the spray is as effective as DEET against mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, and gnats. Use the bracelet when the bugs aren't as thick; it provides less coverage.
12. A PORTABLE WAY TO PURIFY WATER
It's hard to enjoy the wonders of a new place if you're worried about drinking the water. The lightweight Steripen Traveler water purifier kills more than 99% of illness-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites with no chemical aftertaste: Just swish the ultraviolet wand in your glass.
13. A GPS THAT FINDS HELP FASTER
Save precious minutes in case of emergency: A few taps on the TomTom One 3rd Edition Global Positioning System is all it takes to get directions to the nearest hospital or police station. (With other GPS devices, you have to manually search for nearby hospitals and such.) Lost? Press "Where Am I?" and your coordinates appear.