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Originally published Friday, May 3, 2013 at 6:30 AM

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Travel gear for women

Clothes and gadgets that make life easier on the road for women.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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Women who spend a great deal of time on the road will be the first to tell you that logistical and scheduling stressors can be greatly reduced by having access to items which are designed to go the distance on the road. Whether you are getting ready for a trip of your own, shopping for a gift or simply getting your college-age daughter ready for her first trip abroad, this list provides several high-functioning finds. All are available for less than $100.

Gear: Getting your belongings from one point to another is no small accomplishment. That’s where choosing the proper bags, protectors and organizers can play a critical role. One size doesn’t always fit all however, so taking your specific needs into account will help guide your purchasing decisions. Overland Equipment offers a combination tote and laptop backpack in their Cambridge bag, which comes with stow-away straps, compression tabs, vertical storage for easier aisle navigation and a top zipper for extra security. Those who have mobile office needs that require a fair bit of field work outside of an actual office may find it particularly useful.

Need to carry a digital camera in your pocketbook in order to be prepared for travel photography opportunities? Sea to Summit sells a large, padded soft-cell pouch in fun colors that provides a nice buffer for a mid-sized DSLR. At an Amazon price of approximately $35, it’s nearly half the cost of other camera-specific purse inserts I’ve seen on the market. If the airport security shuffle’s got you down, Flanabags has a quart-sized, clear storage bag for liquids that comes with a fashionable wrist strap. Those that only fly a couple of times per year may choose to stick with the bargain-basement quart bags from the grocery store. However, those with schedules composed significantly of flight connections will definitely appreciate the ability to reach your hand through the strap and have the bag on your wrist while quickly grabbing your shoes, laptop and other belongings to dash to the nearest bench where you can compose yourself.

Clothing: Space-efficient wardrobe extenders are available with CamiBands, a tubular clothing item that can serve as a colored insert under blouses instead of a camisole, and also as a layering piece under the bottom edge of a tank or tee. They are helpful when a full second layer would either be too hot or excessively bulky to pack for a limited trip. Active loungewear is my luxury of choice for trips where outfit changes are extremely limited. It gives me something I cannot only wear to relax after a day of meetings, but also to sleep in and wear to the fitness facility in the morning before heading home on the plane. A pair of lightweight yoga pants is certainly a savvy choice, as is a thin hooded pull-over top. ExOfficio’s Chica Cool hoodie for women is one such example, and perfectly appropriate for either a late-night trip downstairs to the hotel’s tea bar or a cool morning beach stroll. Its fabric weight makes it a winner for frequent travelers who need to pack light.

Convertible clothing is also a killer investment, as is anything that can be worn in more than one way and lets you cut back on the number of items you need to pack. Aventura’s two-in-one convertible dress is one such item. As a mid-calf dress you can wear it strapless or with a tie-around halter. When you’re ready for a different look, simply scrunch the top band a bit and slide the item down to your waist to serve as a stylish maxi skirt you can pair with a cute top and your favorite pair of strappy sandals.

If a plastic rain poncho doesn’t make your shortlist of travel fashion preferences and you find yourself with no room for a bulky trench, a RainRap might be a workable solution. Made of a lightweight, water-resistant fabric, the garment appears very similar to a hooded poncho which allows you to reverse between two different colors. Multiple color combinations are available.

For classic swimwear, it’s tough to go wrong with a basic black tank suit. It can serve as a body suit in a pinch, and can easily layer under other clothing on the plane if you are trying to travel with nothing but a tote and a small carry-on bag. The Siena suit from Aqua Sphere is a strong choice, providing light body shaping and decent breast support for roughly 60 bucks.

Gadgets: While few travelers have room for excess gadgets in their luggage, there are definitely some on the market that make our lives easier. I’m certainly not suggesting you go overboard by loading up with unnecessary bits and bobs, but I do think you should feel comfortable including those items that suit your particular travel lifestyle. Bodyworksband.com for example, sells flat-packing rubber power bands with specific exercise diagrams printed directly onto the product. Folded and tucked into a messenger bag pocket, they take up less room than a short stack of software installation disks. Solo travelers and couples wanting pictures of themselves in front of famous landmarks might appreciate the XShot 2.0 camera extender, which provides compact, telescoping camera positioning you can easily accomplish with one hand.

Women with precision grooming needs may want to research the product availability from TweezerMan, which sells a variety of compact items such as folding brow combs, miniature tweezers and small adhesive magnifying mirrors. Those who enjoy traveling to more remote destinations know that alternative personal products are often a pressing concern. Shewee.ca sells a portable urinary device for women I wish I’d known about years ago. Essentially an ergonomic funnel, it provides hygienic and modest toilet access where it would otherwise be difficult or impossible. Basically it lets women urinate while standing up with pants on.

Space limitations and packing concerns aside, disposable feminine products can be difficult to come by in many parts of the world. That’s when having easily-sanitized, reusable items at your disposal is a good idea. Lunapads are a snap-in-place cloth solution that you can launder by hand on the road and air dry, while the DivaCup is a removable cup that’s worn internally and cleaned between uses.

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