Packing Picks

Reprinted from PN March 2017

Whether they assist with accessibility or add convenience, including these items in your luggage will help be a happier traveler

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The best travel products are those items that make the journey as comfortable as possible.  What we pack varies according to where we’re going, the duration of the trip, mode of transportation and anticipated weather. Take the time and make a list of what you need. No matter how often we travel, we always seem to forget something. Picking up a new toothbrush is easy, but some items — like a power wheelchair charger — are difficult to replace.  

Here’s a handy list of products we’ve tested on the road and recommend.


If you’re visiting a new destination, consider buying a CityPASS ticket booklet, which can save up to 50% off the admission price to popular tourist attractions. CityPASS is valid for nine days starting with the first day you use it (14 days in Southern California). The pass frequently allows users to bypass long lines and receive expedited service. 

CityPASS is available for the following destinations: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California, the Tampa, Fla., area and Toronto. We’ve used CityPASS for a variety of attractions from the Empire State Building in New York City and the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden to the Houston Zoo and the Art Institute of Chicago. Before buying a CityPASS, determine how many attractions you can realistically see during your visit and compare costs. Many attractions offer discounts to seniors, people with disabilities and members of the military.  

For more information on what each destination offers, visit

GustBuster Umbrellas  (

Every traveler needs an umbrella, and the American-made GustBuster can withstand winds of up to 55 miles per hour. The product has been wind-tested by the College of Aeronautics. The Classic model with a 48-inch canopy can cover most power wheelchairs.  

The handle is a natural hardwood, and the umbrella can be opened manually or automatically. Lightweight and lightning resistant, it’s a good choice for those who need maximum coverage. The more compact, folding Metro model with a 43-inch diameter can be slung over the shoulder for easier carrying when not in use. 

Compression Legwear  (

Prolonged sitting on a plane can cause blood clots. To reduce leg swelling and aid circulation, wear compression socks. But who says therapeutic legwear should be boring? Vim & Vigr infuses fun colors and patterns (stripes, argyle and polka dots) in its products.  

Fabric options include nylon, moisture-wicking nylon, cotton and wool. Socks are available for men and women in small, medium, large and wide-calf sizes.  

BeasyTrans System 

Whether you’re transferring from a wheelchair to a hotel bed or into a taxi, a transfer board makes maneuvering easier. 

The Beasy board is unlike any board we’ve used before. Made of a sturdy plastic with a sliding disk, this board puts less strain on both the user and the caregiver. The seat glides across the board, and there’s
no tugging.  

Available in three models, we tested the original BeasyTrans. The 40-inch long board is designed for longer transfers, for example, from a wheelchair to a vehicle. The person sits on the board, and a caregiver assists with the transfer.  

Frequent travelers might want to consider ordering an optional bag or case. To locate a dealer, call 877-992-3279. 

eTools Organizer Pro  (

The number of electronic devices we use when traveling seems to increase with every trip. We have cords for cell phones, portable battery chargers, e-readers, tablets and more. The eTools Organizer Pro is a zippered, waterproof, compact case with a variety of compartments that protect and organize these essential items. 

Cost is $25.16 for the larger size and $13.95 for the smaller version. 

 The Cargo Hauler 120-Liter Rolling Duffel  (

When we fly, Barbara typically uses a manual wheelchair and needs assistance pushing. A suitcase that can be worn like a backpack keeps Jim’s hands-free so he can push the wheelchair. 

One of the best features of this bag is it weighs a mere 4 pounds. Made of a water-repellant and abrasion-resistant material, this rolling duffel bag is large enough to accommodate belongings for two people. Travelers can keep everything organized by using the Eagle Creek Pack-It System — a collection of waterproof pouches. 

This bag’s ability to be rolled or worn like a backpack makes it a good choice for travelers who need multiple functionality.  The Cargo Hauler comes in a compact, reusable stuff sack, which is ideal for folks with limited storage. It is available in three colors: black, cherry/gray and blue/gray. Cost is $169, and the duffel comes with “The No Matter What Warranty.”   

Guide Books   ( 

Before every journey, we research the destination, relying on trustworthy sources such as DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Top 10 Berlin, the National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways & Byways: The 300 Best Drives in the U.S. and 100 Things to Do in Chicago Before You Die to help plan our trips.

Always purchase the current year or even next year’s travel guide book to have the most up-to-date information.  

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 NOOK   (

We never leave home without a wireless, portable, personal computer — better known as a tablet.  

Our new favorite, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 NOOK, can be bought online or at local Barnes & Noble bookstores for $399. This tablet is 8 inches long, less then a quarter of an inch thick and weighs under 10 ounces. It has 32 gigabytes of memory, expandable up to 128 gigabytes. 

We snap hundreds of photos and appreciate the camera’s video stabilization feature.  The processor is fast and the screen crisp.  Plus, you can actually see the screen in bright sunlight. Reading books and magazines is a joy — pages turn with a touch. Music, videos, and podcasts provide hours of entertainment.  

We enjoy listening to audio books for those long treks across the country. When Wi-Fi is available, we use the tablet to check emails and download directions before heading to attractions. 

An accessory we recommend is the Nook 2-Way Cover Stand for $39.95. Providing protection and a magnetic tab closure, the lightweight cover allows hands-free usage. The tablet can stand in portrait or landscaping viewing.   

Suitcase Singlefold GF (Graphite Fiber) Ramp  

One item we always store in our van is a portable ramp. On countless occasions, the ramp has made it possible to dine at a new restaurant, sleep at a cozy inn or visit friends’ homes.  

For years, we’ve lugged a 20-pound, 3-foot long metal ramp in the back of our vehicle with an old towel wrapped around it to prevent rattling. Not long ago, the handle fell off, and the ramp become quite awkward to carry. We decided it was time for a new model and began researching options online. 

EZ-ACCESS makes the Suitcase Singlefold GF (Graphite Fiber) Ramp, which the company says is the lightest folding ramp in the industry. Available in five sizes, the ramps range from 29 to 82 inches long and weigh from 7.5 to 21 pounds.  

We tested the 35-inch ramp, which weighs only 9 pounds and is much more manageable than our old ramp. The ramp folds in half for transporting and storing. Two ergonomically designed handles make toting comfortable. A slip-resistant surface is a plus on rainy days. For those folks who need assistance seeing the sides of the ramp, bright yellow stripes aid visibility. 

The ramp is designed for wheelchairs and scooters. The weight capacity for all of these ramps is 660 pounds. EZ-ACCESS sells the ramp through vendors. For links and more information, visit

Travel Map Laundry Bags  (

Keep those dirty clothes separate in the suitcase with a small laundry bag. This fun travel map set of four bags includes: laundry, shoes, personal items and a pouch to store the bags. Cost is $20. 

Travel Scale   (

The airlines will charge you extra for suitcases over the allowed weight limit. Avoid the added expense and weigh your luggage with a travel scale.  This one also includes a 3-foot tape measure so you can check dimensions. The cost is $9.95.  


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