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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.

— Hydawaybottle:  You’re in a country where the water isn’t safe to drink, or at a beach where you’re far away from the refreshment stand or water fountain. No worries. You’ve filled your Hydaway bottle before you left home, clipped it to your belt or backpack, and now you can sip at will. When you’re happily hydrated, the cup will collapse to just over an inch and be ready for your next outing. International travelers might especially like the travel case that features a map of the world. www.hydawaybottle.com

Headphones for Kids:  Sure, it’s easy to amuse kids with a tablet or smartphone when they’re in the car, but what do you do when their headphones fall off or squeeze too tight? Why, give them a padded cap that wraps the speakers in a soft fabric, doesn’t fall off and, better yet, comes in a variety of creature caps — from a kitten or panda to unicorn or monster. www.snugglyrascals.com

Roadtrip America:  Rick Quinn knows the difference between traveling to get somewhere and traveling to see something. He drove 11,000 miles and took 7,000 photographs to see the sights that aren’t visible as people speed along the interstate. Here, in Arizona and New Mexico, 15 Scenic Side Trips, he shares the results of his journey.  His photos are lovely, but this is primarily a how-to book. Quinn tells how to reach his off-road wonders, where to stay if you want to get up early to see the sun rise over the Grand Canyon, and where to find the “Wickedest Town in the West.” We’re looking forward to his next adventure! www.RoadtripAmerica.com

Little Passports:  Here’s a monthly treat for children who love to travel, whether  personally or vicariously. A “global adventure” begins when the child receives a box containing the basic travel necessities: a suitcase, a map and, of course, a boarding pass and passport. After that, a different country is highlighted each month when the child receives packet of country-specific activities, photos and souvenirs. Fun and informative for children 6-10. www.littlepassports.com

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.

— 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 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.

UPCOMING EVENTS

— 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.

— 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 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.