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12 gift ideas for practical travelers

As airlines continue to hike fees for checked bags and overweight suitcases, fitting everything into one compact bag — whether it is a carry-on or a lightweight suitcase — is more important than ever. Spotting an opportunity, luggage and accessory makers have introduced a host of new packing products, from collapsible lunch boxes to suitcases with built-in scales to help fit everything into that overhead bin or at least lighten a traveler's load. Here are 12 gift ideas for practical travelers on the go.

Michelle Higgins, New York Times News Service

1 LIQUIS 4 WHEELED SUPER LIGHTWEIGHT CARRY-ON, $299

A slick polycarbonate outer shell makes this 22-inch carry-on from Britain's Antler brand among the lightest bags around. How light? Just 4.4 pounds — less than a bag of sugar. For those who simply can't fit everything into a carry-on, Antler makes a 33-inch version for $399 that weighs 8.4 pounds. Available in blue, silver or red.

Information: antlerusa.com

2 EXOFFICIO STORM LOGIC JACKET, $150

Stuff this insulated puffy jacket, made for both men and women, into its built-in sack and voila — it's a travel pillow.

Information: exofficio.com

3 KIVA DESIGNS COMPRESSIBLE PACKING CUBE SET, $24.95

These see-through mesh packing cubes save space by squishing clothes and other contents down when zipped shut.

Information: kivabags.com

4 COLLAPSIBLE LUNCH BOX, $24

Save space in your carry-on and avoid airline food with this BPA-free, accordion-style lunch box that collapses for easy storage after you've finished your meal.

Information: flight001.com

5 DELSEY'S HELIUM FUSION LITE 2.0 UPRIGHT TROLLEY, $129.99

Among the latest suitcases to feature a built-in scale to help dodge overweight fees, this 25-inch upright with wheels weighs 11.4 pounds empty and has an indicator that turns red when your bag is over 50 pounds, when most excess luggage fees kick in.

Information: delsey.com

6 COTE&CIEL IPHONE CASE, 25 EUROS (About $33)

This iPhone case with a built-in credit card slot is perfect for the minimalist. Designed to fit iPhones 3G, 3GS, 4 and 4S, it's a sort of wallet, protecting your technology without adding bulk.

Information: coteetciel.com

7 NEW JULIAN WRAP DRESS, $325

A little black dress that travels well and can be paired with scarves, sweaters and other accessories for multiple looks is always a good bet. Not to mention that it cuts down on what's in your carry-on. This one from Diane von Furstenberg comes in silk jersey, which resists wrinkles.

Information: dvf.com

8 DUNHILL ROLL-UP PANAMA HAT, $645

A well-made classic Panama hat is woven with straw so fine and flexible that the hat can be rolled up into a small cylindrical bundle for easy traveling. This one, in off-white from Alfred Dunhill, has a crease down its middle designed to make it easy to roll for storage and portability.

Information: mrporter.com. Panamahatshop.com offers similar hats in different weaves from $45. The finer the weave, the higher the quality (and price) of the hat.

9 GO-POD, $54.99

This portable activity seat from KidCo offers traveling families an impromptu entertainment center for children from 4 months to beginning walkers. It has drink and snack holders, five loops for attaching favorite toys and a floor pad to keep your child's feet off the airport floor during that long layover. Too big, you wonder? When it's time to board, the 7-pound Go-Pod folds into its own shoulder tote for easy carry-on.

Information: kidco.com

10 TRAVEL BLANKID BUDDY, $29.99

This blanket and pillow set doubles as a stuffed animal or backpack, saving space when traveling with little ones. Available in monkey, panda or ladybug buddies for ages 3 to 8.

Information: cabeautravel.com

11 SHORT STUFF UMBRELLA, $27.50

At just 5.5 inches long when folded, this compact umbrella won't take up much space in your briefcase or carry-on. But it will still keep you dry, opening to a 42-inch arc.

Information: magellans.com

12 MOVE MOBILE CLOSET, $450

Designed to neatly hold a three- or four-day wardrobe so you never have to unpack, this 8.5-pound carry-on from Max Mirani has built-in cantilevered shelves to keep clothing organized and accessible. When unzipped it can be hung in a hotel closet for easy dressing. A removable insert offers two bags in one in case you come home with more stuff than you left with.

Information: maxmirani.com

12 gift ideas for practical travelers 12/03/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 3, 2011 3:30am]

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