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HANDY TRAVEL HELPERS
We often receive pitches from various companies that want us to plug their products. Sometimes we agree to take a look, but if the product doesn’t strike us as exceptional, we don’t review it. Our allegiance is to you, the reader.
— mifold (yes, it’s spelled without capital letters!) is quite the cleverest car seat we’ve seen. Designed to protect children from 4 to 12, it works on a different principle than traditional booster seats. Traditional boosters raise the child so that the regular seat belt is positioned correctly. Mifold instead lowers the belt, meaning that the booster seat can be 10x smaller than traditional ones. The company proclaims that it meets all safety standards.
— BigFoot Books feature the mythical and mysterious creature as it travels the world, introducing children to big cities and major landmarks. Cleverly designed with search-and-find activities, puzzle panoramas and fun facts, they’re aimed at third and fourth graders, although younger children will enjoy the delightful illustrations. Perfect for kids who want to keep track of their traveling grandparents as well as for those who may be lucky enough to accompany them on an intergenerational vacation. The first two books in a planned series of four — “BigFoot Visits the Big Cities of the World” and “BigFoot Goes on Vacation” were released in January.
— PodPockets keep Apple users happy, both on the road and at home. Made from high grade silicone, they protect the AirPods charging case as well as your sanity. They feature a strong ring that lets you attach the Pocket to your keychain, purse or belt loop, ensuring that you won’t get to your destination and find you’ve left your Airpods at home.
— Compression Socks are a must for long-distance travelers, and it’s a definite plus if they can be stylish as well as serviceable. The newly-launched Comrad socks come in a variety of colors and roll up to fit not only the toes on your feet but also to fill up the toe-tip of Santa’s stockings. www.comradsocks.com
— The Cities Book serves a dual purpose. First of all, it’s a thick, oversized book filled with lovely photos that will set you dreaming about 200 of the world’s greatest cities. Second, it’s crammed with information that will tell you how to make those dreams come true. Published by Lonely Planet.
— Streets of the World has a backstory that’s almost as impressive as the book, which is to say it’s impressive indeed. Dutch photojournalist Jeroen Swolfs set out in 2009 with the goal of photographing street life in every country in the world. Eight years later he had upwards of 195 photos which, according to the United Nations, is indeed the number of countries in the world. The photos are sold in a limited edition series and are also on display until April at the World Photo Museum in Zaandam, Amsterdam. Published by Lannoo Publishers.
—The World Traveler Coloring Book by Thaneeya McArdle has fill-ins for sites from the Taj Mahal to the Palazzo Vecchio, a Norwegian Stave Church to a Victorian house in San Francisco. The images aren’t overly complex — a meticulous eight year old would enjoy them — but they’re detailed enough to hold the interest of an adult. Another good book in the series, “More Good Vibes,” is not site-specific but contains images that will hold special appeal for the traveler. Both highly recommended for long plane rides. Published by Fox Chapel Publishing.
— Ongoing — “America’s Musical Journey” playing in various venues across the country: A new IMAX 3D film takes viewers on a 40-minute magical as well as musical tour of America, exploring the nation’s various cultures through their unique sounds, from the jazz of New Orleans to the country songs of Nashville. It even flies over Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheater, a favored outdoor performance venue for more than a hundred years. The film is being shown in Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science as well as in other giant screen theaters across the country.
— April 11-15 — Azalea Festival: Wilmington, NC: A week-long festival in coastal North Carolina showcases Southern warmth (pardon the pun) and hospitality as much as Southern art. In addition to a juried art fair there’s a parade replete with marching bands and flower-bedecked floats, tours of historic homes and gardens where, in addition to thousands of azaleas, you’ll find old oak trees, funky art and if you’re lucky, a swan.
— June 16-18 – Native American Cultural Symposium: Bentonville, AK: Last year’s debut symposium at the Museum of Native American History in Bentonville, AK was such a success that it’s being expanded this year in what is hoped to become an annual festival. This year’s theme is “Reunification through Reinvention: the creative visions of contemporary Native America.” In addition to enjoying the workshops, panel discussions, storytelling and performances, be sure to leave time to explore the museum itself. It has an extensive collection of the artifacts and art of America’s first people.
— July 5 – September 1: Festival of the Arts: Laguna Beach, CA: The undisputed highlight of the summer-long beach-town festival is the Pageant of the Arts, a nightly performance during which famous works of art are recreated on stage by people who are painstakingly outfitted to represent their painted counterparts down to the smallest detail. During the day festival-goers can attend a juried craft fair, take workshops or enjoy the town’s shops, eateries and delightful beach.
— July 13-15 — International Folk Art Market: Santa Fe, NM: The largest international art fair in the world, the International Folk Art Market features superb craftspersons from developing counties. There are people from Panama who make museum-quality vases, from Laos who weave silk into intricate patterns, from Africa who use age-old methods to weave new-age telephone cords into platters and baskets. Many of the craftspeople are outfitted in traditional dress and are accompanied by translators. They all receive pre-festival training in business techniques and their art is sold at fair-market prices.
— July 28-29 — Traditional Spanish Market: Santa Fe, NM: Here regional craftsmen and women showcase work that celebrates their Old World traditions as well as their American past. A top-notch fair is filled with retablos (devotional paintings), tinwork and carved furniture, all displayed in a festive atmosphere of music and dance. Many of the craftspeople leaned their craft from their parents or grandparents, who lived in the Southwest long before New Mexico became a state in 1912.
— August 18-19 — Indian Market: Santa Fe, NM: More than 1,000 Native artists from the U.S. and Canada show their art during Santa Fe’s Indian Market, the oldest and most well-known of Santa Fe’s three major summer markets. The art, which ranges from traditional to contemporary, includes everything from jewelry and pottery to kachinas and blankets. In addition to viewing (and buying) extraordinary art, the market encourages people to understand Native life through food, film, storytelling and, of course, listening to the music of drums.