Skooba Checkthrough Brief

It’s holiday time. While most every reviewer and columnist will offer a gift suggestion list in the coming days, I think mine has some great “off the beaten path” items you won’t hear of anywhere else. I hope my list helps you find a terrific gift for that traveler who presumably has everything.• There are many MP3 players suitable for travel, which can provide hours of entertainment on those long flights. In my opinion, Apple’s iPod continues to be the top choice. Some travelers have had their 5th Generation Video iPod for years, but now it’s out of warranty, the battery doesn’t last as long as it once did, and its hard drive is full.

For the technically adventurous traveler whose iPod is “long in the tooth,” I have the perfect gift to to make it even better than the latest 160GB iPod. Consider Apricorn’s Upgrade Kit for 5th Generation Video iPods ($199). You get a 240GB replacement hard drive and a new battery with 30 percent more life than iPod’s original. It took me about a half hour to install the kit following Apricorn’s video tutorial. My iPod’s like new, except that it’s bigger and better than ever.

Jabra CruiserJabra’s new Cruiser ($83), Bluetooth In-car Speakerphone is a great gift for the “Road Warrior.” It’s unsafe to hold your cellphone to your ear while driving, and for many, wearing an earphone for hours on end while driving is uncomfortable. For road warriors, the Cruiser is a wonderful gift to keep them safe. It provides high voice quality by eliminating background noise, can use compatible cellphones’ Bluetooth voice dialing, as well as answer and hangup a cell phone without ever touching it. Just make sure your gift recipient has a compatible cellphone.

• Today’s travelers use many electronic devices to enhance their journeys; cellphones, mp3 players, dvd players, laptops, digital cameras, etc. The Belkin Mini Surge Protector ($25) with USB Charger is a perfect gift to help run those devices. The 5” long gadget turns a single outlet into a surge protected triplex outlet, plus has two USB ports to recharge portable devices such as iPhones.

• Today’s US Passports and Passport Cards contain RFID (radio frequency identification) chips. The Passport’s chip broadcasts your name, nationality, gender, date and place of birth, and a digitized version of your photograph, but has a relatively short range. Passport Cards transmit an ID number, but over a range of 30’ or more. The problem is the chips can apparently be electronically read at distances greater than the government contends, and can be used to track their owners. One could take a hammer to the chip, but instead buy your traveler the Nappa RFID Passport Wallet ($40) to shield RFID personal information from identity-theft thieves, and prevent tracking.

Bose QuietComfort 15• While newer planes are getting quieter, most planes today have a din throughout the passenger cabin which requires most headphones to have their volume turned up to high levels to hear music, movies or other audio. Some need to have their volume so high that passengers can damage their hearing. Bose’s new QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones ($300) are a great gift which substantially reduces or eliminates the problem of airplane cabin noise for your listening pleasure, even in those noisy regional jets. In my opinion, the new Bose QuietComfort 15 headset has great sound quality and is the best of today’s noise canceling headsets.

• For years, the Skooba MegaMedia Bag was, in my opinion, the best laptop/briefcase bag available for travelers, but it’s no longer available. Another Skooba laptop/briefcase has taken its place as top banana. The Skooba Checkthrough Brief ($140), (top photo) while not perfect, is a superb bag for travelers, and would make a terrific holiday gift. The Checkthrough Brief has the advantage for travelers of being able to leave their laptop in the bag when passing through TSA security. The bag opens in the middle to separate and segregate the laptop compartment from the rest of the bag. I’ve been using the bag for a while and TSA has never made me remove my laptop from it.

eScale• Having over-weight luggage today can cost you a bundle when you fly. For example, overweight baggage penalties vary from $125 to $400 per bag on United. The small, lightweight eScale ($35) is a great gift for the traveler to use as a tool to ensure their bags meet airline weight standards, at home and while away.

• Personal items such as keys, coins, cash, jewelry watch, etc, can get strewn all over your hotel room on the desk, night table and other furniture each evening. In the past, I’ve wasted more than a few minutes attempting to find them before breakfast. The Travel tray ($10) keeps everything together and organized. It can make a great stocking stuffer for your traveler.

Have a fabulous holiday season. Travel safely.