Anything that makes travel more comfortable is worth a try--but only if it's lightweight and doesn't hog precious packing space. These new items, which I've tested, will ease the journey in ingenious ways. They may be available in area stores. Prices do not include shipping.
Head trip: Inflatable travel pillows may be ultra-compact, but they can't honestly take the place of the real thing. So go ahead and indulge in the Fine Feathered Friend, a scaled-down goose down pillow that comes in a zippered nylon tote bag. The pillow measures 23 by 15 inches and has a removable cotton case. It folds in half to fit into the tote, which has a nylon web carry strap that can be slung over a wheel-aboard bag for quick access. For people with allergies, the Fine Feathered Friend also is available with a polyester/acetate stuffing that is nearly indistinguishable from the down version.
Travel Pillow in goose down or polyester/acetate is $78 from Fine Feathered Friend, telephone (888) 523-5100, Internet http://www.finefeatheredfriend.com.
Blanket approval: Snuggle up with an airline blanket? No way. Even if it doesn't look dirty, you don't know when it was last laundered or where it's been since. Enter the Travillo travel blanket, a soft 40-by 60-inch swath of polyester fleece that folds into its own sewn-in pouch to double as a pillow.
I've taken the Travillo along on car trips and have used it for extra warmth in hotel beds or around a campfire.
Travillo Blanket/Pillow, in several color choices, is $34.95. For information, contact the manufacturer at tel. (866) 943-7634, http://www.travillo.com.
Best case scenario: The DreamSack pillowcase provides a luscious layer of silk between you and the hotel or airline pillow. Even if it weren't a hygienic idea, what's not to like about the feel of cool satin-like silk against your face? The color choices--purple, royal blue, teal and burgundy among them--add a sense of the exotic. The 20-by-32-inch case fits standard pillows and folds into its own sewn-in pocket. Stuff it with a sweater or other bits of clothing and you have an instant pillow on the go.
The pillowcase also is available in a smaller size (14 by 15 inches), designed for airline pillows, but the larger version is more versatile.
Full-size silk Pillow Case in a Pocket (PC975) is $14; smaller Travel Pillow Case (TC925) is $10, from DreamSack, tel. (800) 670-7661, http://www.dreamsack.com.
Getting a leg up: Doctors will tell you that one of the best ways to avoid lower back pain when sitting for long periods is to put your feet up. The Back Relax folding footrest provides a nice 4-inch lift that tilts the pelvis, taking some of the strain off the spine and reducing the risk of leg cramps.
Originally designed for short women whose feet don't reach the floor when sitting, this sturdy plastic mini-stool can add to the comfort of big guys as well. Weighing just 12 ounces, the footrest measures 81/2 by 4 inches by 3/4 inch when folded. For added stability, built-in metal brackets automatically lock in place against the legs when the unit is in use.
Folding Foot Rest (item IF477) is $24.85 from Magellan's, tel. (800) 962-4943, http://www.magellans.com.
Presto change-o: Even the best-prepared parent occasionally gets caught unequipped for a suddenly wet infant. Baby on the Go, an instant diaper-changing kit in a bag, has everything you need for such emergencies. Rip open the 9-by-5-inch plastic bag and you'll find a disposable diaper, an 18-by-13-inch changing pad, a foil-wrapped sanitizing hand towel, two foil-wrapped hypoallergenic baby wipes and a tie-top plastic bag for disposing of soiled diapers. Available in three sizes: newborn to 12 pounds, 12 to 24 pounds, and 24 to 36 pounds.
Baby on the Go is $1.99, less if purchased in multiples. For information, contact the manufacturer, Earth Angels Inc., tel. (877) 222-9548, http://www.babygo.net.
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