Keeping travel gear to a minimum can be problematic when you also want to be stylish and well equipped for the trip's demands. Happily, manufacturers are paying more attention to the unique needs of women travelers. The following items may be available in area stores. Prices do not include shipping.
Managing makeup: Makeup supplies not only hog precious space but are forever getting broken, spilled or lost in purses or suitcases. Trish McEvoy's Make-Up Planners create an ingenious system that keeps essentials within a sleek black Leatherette zippered case.
Available in several sizes, the planners are designed to hold Trish McEvoy makeup products, but also can hold some of your own favorite items. The most popular size, the Mini Planner, is 7 inches by 5 inches by 2 1/2 inches. It unzips to reveal two binder rings that hold plastic makeup "pages," available at an extra charge. Each page has round or square slots for specific makeup inserts (also purchased separately) that pop into the slot via a magnetic backing. When the makeup is used up, a new insert can be substituted.
The case also has a snap-closure mesh pouch inside the cover, a removable zippered mesh pouch, a wide elasticized pocket for larger items and four elasticized slits for brushes, pencil liners and tube lipsticks.
Trish McEvoy Mini Make-Up Planner is $35; products range from $16 for lip colors to $63 for top-of-the-line brushes. Call for a nearby store or order from the manufacturer; telephone (800) 431-4306.
Moving reflections: Unless they come equipped with makeup mirrors, hotel bathrooms require something akin to acrobatics for women trying to apply facial details such as eyeliner and mascara. So bring your own.
Zelco's Magnificent Magnifying Mirror is a portable, cordless, rechargeable, battery/electric illuminated magnifying mirror that earns its place in the suitcase. When the fold-out handle is retracted, the mirror measures a compact 6 inches square by 1 1/4 inches deep. It weighs 1 1/2 pounds with the power unit, 15 ounces without. The handle can be partially folded to become a two-position base. The 3X-magnification mirror has dual diffused lights, a detachable electric cord, a swivel wall bracket for home use and a recharge indicator.
Magnificent Magnifying Mirror is $70, travel bag $10, at stores or from Zelco; tel. (800) 431-2486.
Photo finisher: Camera bags have never been very feminine--until now. Lowepro, maker of some of the best rough and tough bags on the market, has come out with the Pacific Collection for women shooters who want to look stylish.
The most popular model, the Sonoma, is a 2-inch by 9-inch by 5 1/2-inch backpack in a black suede-like material that also can be carried over one shoulder or by the handle. It holds small SLRs or any size point-and-shoot and has a zippered outside pocket for filters, credit cards and other small items and an inside pouch for a light meter or cell phone. The camera can be accessed via a side zippered opening or through the drawstring top. I also liked the larger Napa shoulder bag, which holds an SLR with up to three lenses and has padded inserts that can be removed to convert this to a regular shoulder bag.
LowePro Pacific Collection Sonoma backpack is $120; Napa shoulder bag is $150, at camera stores. For a nearby store, call the manufacturer, tel. (800) 800-5693.
Fancy footwork: Love those sturdy Teva sports sandals? Take a look at the newest model, a performance-walking sandal for women called the Circuit. This even sturdier model has added padding and support for fitness walkers who want to keep their feet air-conditioned. I don't recommend the Circuit for mountain hikes or in areas where sharp rocks are a threat.
Teva Circuit Sports Sandal is $69.95 in nylon, $74.95 in leather at sporting goods and specialty footwear stores. For a nearby store, call Teva; tel. (800) 367-8382.
Rain-buster: Though not specifically for women, London Fog's new flat Auto Open/Close umbrella is so lightweight (9 ounces), compact (11 inches by 3 inches by 1 inch deep) and user-friendly that I'm claiming it for the gender. Push the button in the base, and it opens into a full-size umbrella. Push the button again, and it collapses into the base.
London Fog Auto Open/Close Umbrella is $24.95 at department stores or by mail order from Christine Columbus; tel. (800) 280-4775.
Gear & Gadgets appears the first week of every month.