Here are some things that could make travel even more of a joy. I do not do a lot of product reviews on A Traveler’s Library, but I have recently been sent several products to try out that I think are worth sharing with you (or cautioning you about). As you pack for a summer trip, you might want to consider adding some of these to your list.
Notable Novelists. Isn’t it nice to have a truly portable game along that nearly everyone can enjoy? Of coures e a plain ol’ deck of cards always comes in handy, but here’s a card game for all the book lovers who read A Traveler’s Library. I hung on to this until I was going to a Payson cabin with my brother and sister-in-law, both of whom teach literature, because I thought they would particularly enjoy it. However, we discovered that you really don’t have to know anything about literature to play.
There are three “suits”, consisting of Author card, Bio card and and Library card (a list of works by the author). 18 authors like Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather, T.S. Eliot are represented in clever drawings. Like “Go Fish” you ask another player for a card you need to make a set.
Most of the authors in[amazon_link id="B002OTWK80" target="_blank" ] Notable Novelists of the 20th Century[/amazon_link] are familiar, but one stumped all three of us. Because we are all book worms, the game led to lively conversation, as we tried to gather up our own favorite, and my brother asked if he HAD to play a set of an author he despised. Younger folks (the game is recommended for 12 +) could play just for the matching fun without knowing any of the names–and who knows–maybe they’ll remember something afterwards. ($10.95) RATING: Winner for Travelers Who Read
Going from the strictly fun to the seriously useful, these three lightway, reusable, polyester bags fold up to practically nothing and unfold to hold a whole lot of stuff. Their colorful designs include a travel pack of three cities: New York, Paris and Sydney. The bags are rated to 44 lb (20 kg), but the seams did not look all that sturdy to me, and I didn’t risk carrying something heavy like books. I used them on our cabin outing and one is presently stuffed with picnic things, ready to go on a moment’s notice.
Since they are water resistant and washable, EnviroSax would be great for carrying things to the beach, holding wet items, stuffing full of your laundry on a car trip. Good for grocery shopping and a carryon for excess stuff coming home. As a matter of fact, I’ll be taking them with me on my car trip to Nova Scotia in August. (24.95 for the set of 3) ( RATING: Winner (And cute to boot).
Not really something you’re going to put in your luggage, but this steam-cleaner for your grill might take up residence in a summer cabin, or ride along in the trunk (boot) of your car for emergency use when camping. The brush on the [amazon_link id="B00198IUKY" target="_blank" ]Grill Daddy Pro[/amazon_link] is large and rather ungainly to look at, but the design makes it easy to manipulate. The theory here is that you fill the hollow handle with water, which comes out through the brush and creates steam, cleaning the grill more efficiently than a dry brush. It does that job. However, you can only use it right after you use the grill, because the grill has to be hot for it to be effective, an if you use it on glowing goals before you grill, they will be soaked instead of glowing. ($24.95–less on Amazon) RATING: CLOSE to Good, But No Cigar
Smart for Life Green Tea Protein Bar – I’m always on the prowl for a good snack bar. Good to me means something that is high protein, no high fructose corn syrup, and actually doesn’t taste like cardboard. These Smart for Life bars have 18 grams of protein per bar with 190 calories, taste delicious, and have a minimum of suspect ingredients. Problem is, these are marketed as part of a weight loss program and cost $3.04 when you buy them in bulk at the site.[amazon_link id="B00555FT88" target="_blank" ] $1.53 per bar for a dozen elsewhere[/amazon_link]. RATING: Good but expensive.
Supersmile Quikee - A little tube of tooth whitener/cleanser that you apply by rubbing it around with your tongue seems like a good thing to carry when you travel. I tried it out, and it has a nice, mild taste, froths on the teeth like it is doing something, but obviously is a short term solution, as it does not clean the biting surfaces. I supplemented with a use of floss, since some of the[amazon_link id="B000MKKX4G" target="_blank" ] Supersmile Quikee[/amazon_link] showed between my teeth. To be fair, its main claim to fame is whitening and I need to use it more to find out if that works. ($16.00 at site; $10.99 at Amazon) RATING: Jury is out.
I won this Personal Pocket E-Reader in a contest, and certainly am under no obligation to review it, but some people have asked what I thought, so I’ll share my thoughts.
1. The Sony is, as advertised, extremely thin and lightweight, making it great for travel. Of course in order to have it safe for travel, you should shroud it in a case, and the ones Sony sells go for $35-$50, more than I feel like spending at the moment on a reader that was free.
2. The touch technology works fine, and the screen with the newest technology of e-ink looks just like the screen on the newest Kindles. I have trouble remembering that I have to have an external light source, and don’t particularly like the gray of the screen. Even though it is adjustable, I can’t get it fine tuned to suit me.
3. I like the fact that I can connect through the Sony store to my public library and download e-books. I like that I can read e-books and PDFs as well as the formatted books the Sony Store sells.
4. The instruction book that comes installed on the device, and downloaded to your computer are well written and easy to follow.
5. HOWEVER, everything that happens away from the reader itself is awkward. What do I mean?
You can’t order books with WIFI as you can with a Sony or Nook. Instead you have to plug in to the computer, and it has to be a computer where you have downloaded your Sony store software. So forget it if you’re on the road and don’t have your own laptop along.
Somebody tried to buy me a book as a gift from the Sony store and they couldn’t even do that without downloading the store software to their own computer.
The Sony store needs to study Amazon. Their search function doesn’t (function, that is).
You have to register your device, then you have to go through another registration process for the store. What is this? Don’t the divisions of Sony even talk to each other?
The gift Sony came with a gift card which I had a devil of a time using. Glitches happen, but I was particularly appalled when the screen kept saying “the server is down try later”—for three days. Then when I called support, the unhelpful desk person said, “Yes, the server is down and they are working to fix it.” That was totally false, I later learned. I asked the marketing person to intervene and immediately got a helpful techie who set me up with the credit I was entitled to. But if I had not everyone can rely on the marketing department to solve their problems. It was distressing to say the least.
So I’d have to say that while the technology is whiz bang on this tiny little reading device (whose screen, by the way is the same size as other standard readers), I’m not impressed with the company behind it.
So what do you think? Any of the above products you would add to your summer travel list?