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  • Lisa Jevens

Handy Tools Keep You Plugged In While on the Road

Gadgets are an essential part of travel. Here are some good ones to take with you to keep you clean, safe and fully charged. And a nifty way to store them all, too.

hipKey proximity and movement alarm

If you have an Apple device such as an iPhone, iPad or iPod, the hipKey can keep them from being lost or stolen, plus a whole lot more. The hipKey connects wirelessly to your device, and sounds an alarm if you have left your phone behind in a cab or restaurant, or if someone tries to walk away with your iPad. Attach it to your purse, set to Motion mode, and it will alert you if the purse is moved. Pop it in your grandson's pocket, and it will alert you if he wanders out of a range you specify, up to 164 feet. Attach it to your keyring and the app will locate your keys. The small, two-inch aluminum device is lightweight and lasts two to four weeks on a single charge. Check for device compatibility at before buying. Costs $59.95. The hipKey app is free at the App Store.

GRID-IT gadget organizers

Let's face it, we all love our gadgets and don't want to leave any of them behind when we travel. But all those little necessities become a disorganized mess when packing and traveling. Cocoon Innovations has invented a way to corral your small stuff with clever elastic banded portfolios that secure items in limitless combinations. Their GRID-IT organizers are designed to hold objects firmly in place, from chargers to pill bottles to paint brushes. There are basic GRID-ITS and special GRID-ITS with pouches for tablets and laptops, and even one made to fit your car's sun visor. GRID-ITS range in size and price from extra small (5" x 7" for $9.99) to one that will hold a MacBook Air and accessories for $49.99. Available at,, The Container Store and more.

LifeHub charger

You check into your hotel and immediately start hunting for the outlets to plug in your sapped devices. With LifeHub, you only need find one, and it can be anywhere in the room. LifeHub is a new charger that plugs into the wall, has a 14-foot cord, and can charge as many as three USB devices at once. It's great for hanging out on the couch at home, or when family comes to visit with their own gaggle of devices. Available at Office Max, Office Depot, Fry's Electronics, and many other online retailers. $54.99.

Herban Essentials towelettes

Travel can be a grimy, germy business. It's a special treat to find a towelette that can not only keep germs off your hands but also remove makeup and wipe down door handles or tray tables--and smells wonderful at the same time. Herban Essentials are essential oil towelettes that have naturally antibacterial and antiseptic properties. They apparently smell so good, the website suggests "waving them through the air to create a positive and inspiring environment." The individually wrapped towelettes come in lavender, lemon, orange, peppermint, eucalyptus. Available at spas, salons, Whole Foods, The Container Store, and at for $16 for a pack of 20.

AIR-O-SWISS Travel humidifier

Hotel rooms can be dry, and there is nothing you can do about it unless you travel with your own humidifier--or constantly run the shower. Fortunately, AIR-O-SWISS invented a miniature humidifier that fits into a travel bag and uses a water bottle for its H2O source. The Ultrasonic AOS 7164 uses high-frequency vibrations to generate a fine mist, which is blown into the room where it immediately evaporates. A transcontinental AC adapter and exchangeable plugs are included, so it can be used in North America or Europe. Sells for $39 at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Originally published in the Chicago Tribune Prime time senior living section on April 4, 2014.

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