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Suddenly we were buying clear plastic 3-1-1 toiletry kits with 3.4 oz (or smaller) bottles, backpacks with easily-accessible laptop compartments, luggage with seats, collapsible water bottles that could be filled once you reached a secure area, even socks and foot coverings designed to prevent travelers from having to walk barefoot through airport scanners.

Like 9-11, the COVID-19 pandemic has also changed travel forever.

The innovators in our industry – the companies looking at the pandemic as a business opportunity – are beginning to manufacturer and ship the products that will allow us to safely travel tomorrow. The bags and accessories that solve our new travel problems are going to be our future travel goods success stories.

The Daily Essentials

Who hasn’t chanted “wallet, glasses, keys and phone” as they left for a trip? (Or if you’re a little older, “tickets, money, passport?”) The new essentials for today’s travelers are a clean face mask, touch tool, and a precious bottle of hand sanitizer. Travel goods manufacturers have embraced PPE production, from disposable masks to face shields and reusable masks. The Barrier Method, now the OG of fashionable face coverings, has expanded their collection beyond their original Winged Mask (with its distinctive combination of scarf plus interior mask with hidden ear loops). New styles include the Neckie, a neck-gaiter style face covering; Just the Mask, a traditional mask; as well as mask filtration inserts.

Among the newcomers to PPE production, styles range from functional to the highly fashionable. Manufacturers include YaY Novelty, Clayton & Crume, Cabeau, Travelers Club, Aviator, InnoTri, HYDAWAY, VIP Industries, Pacsafe, World Richman Mfg., and Retra Products, sometimes packed in cute carrying cases (Artphere, LongLat).

Also see “A Smart Pivot Around COVID-19” on TGA’s website for a directory of PPE products including contact and pricing. The directory is ever expanding so be sure to bookmark the page and check back.

The most extreme travel industry PPE is The M.E. HOOD™, a full hood with integrated face mask and eye shield. It’s currently in the Kickstarter phase, developed by Retra Products (formerly RetraStrap).

Pacsafe stands out from the crowd with two technologically advanced face masks, both available in three sizes. The Pacsafe ViralOff face mask is treated with Polygiene® ViralOff®, which functions like a sanitizing gel for your mask. The knitted polyester mask will hold 99% fewer viruses after two hours than one without anti-viral treatment. And the Pacsafe silver iON face mask protects you with a silver ion fabric that effectively disinfects and reduces microbes, and doesn’t wash out. The silver ion cotton outer layer, modal graphene filter and cotton lining provides at least 99% filtration efficiency against microbials and airborne particles down to 2.5 microns.

Travel goods manufacturers are also dreaming up interesting new mask accessories. YaY Novelty focuses on comfort for health care providers and essential workers with their Button Headband for Face Mask and Ear Protector Strap for Face Mask. These mask accessories prevent discomfort and skin irritation behind the ears, and help masks stay in place during physically demanding tasks.

Cabeau has introduced a smart and simple solution to the problem of fogging glasses, Cabeau Tape. Cabeau Tape is an FDA-approved and dermatologist recommended medical-grade tape used to seal the gaps around the perimeter of any filtration mask. The pre-cut reusable strips prevent foggy glasses and block virus-size particles from coming around the sides of the mask. They also reduce ear loop discomfort and prevent mask slippage for both adults and wriggly kids.

KeySmart took an entirely different approach to eyeglass clarity, developing a proprietary spray formula that is both anti-fog and anti-static. Primarily water, baking soda and isopropyl alcohol, the non-toxic formula works on eyeglasses, sunglasses, and goggles. It lasts for 24 hours and is safe for both anti-reflective and non-anti-reflective lenses.

And then there is the touch tool, the new essential key-chain accessory for our germophobic world. The KeySmart™ CleanKey™ is a touch tool with a stylus tip that works on touchscreens, plus a hook that allows you to open doors, press buttons and pull levers without surface contact. The CleanKey is manufactured out of uncoated Copper Alloy 260, which is inherently antimicrobial, killing 99.9% of bacteria within two hours.

ReturnMe has developed the TOUCH-AID touch tool, with two small rubber knobs perfect for opening doors and handles, using touchscreens, and pressing buttons. The TOUCH-AID also features popular ReturnMe replacement technology. Attach the TOUCH-AID to your keys or bag, activate the unique ID number online or by phone, and if someone finds your lost item, ReturnMe will facilitate its return. They’ll ship your item to you for free for the first year, and reward the finder once you’ve retrieved your item.

If you like “Transformers” you’ll love My Safety Stick, the new touch tool from Mundi. It features two caps that cover the dirty parts of the stick, reducing the chances of cross-contamination. Pop the caps to reveal a touch-tool and hook for operating keypads and buttons, and opening handles and doors.

Notu Design (from Gruv Gear founder Jay Baldemor) has come up with a truly different touch tool: a friendly ergonomic oval shape with a hook that slides out to open doors and then retracts into the aluminum casing, keeping germs away from your hands. The Notu One also includes a convenient pen for signing paper receipts and a stylus for use on touchscreens and keypads.

The Mundi Westport Socially Sure Kit includes both new essential accessories: washable PPE and a touch tool. A clear wristlet is packed with two reusable and washable fashion face masks with adjustable metal molding around the nose and filter sleeve, two replacement filters and a Don’t Touch That multi-purpose touch tool (a simpler version of My Safety Stick). Masks are available in assorted fashionable neutrals.

Ms. Jetsetter has also developed a notable new kit. The Ms. J Healthy Travel Kit includes a fabric mask with filter pocket, refillable hand sanitizer with carabiner, 10 disinfectant wipes, and three pairs of disposable gloves, all in a TSA-accepted clear case. Similarly, Talus offers a compact kit containing a disposable face mask, gloves, hand sanitizer bottle, and multiple sizes of wipes.

Since the beginning of the pandemic we’ve experienced shortages in soap and hand sanitizer. SpectraSpray Global has added Hand and Surface Sanitizer to its line of health-supportive vitamin sprays, packaged in the same compact and stylish aluminum tubes. Cabeau is marketing personal-size hand sanitizers that come in a soft sided pouch (like a squeezable fruit pouch) with an attached carabiner. Meanwhile Travelon is guaranteeing that you’ll have suds while you sing “Happy Birthday” (or your choice of song to time your handwashing). Their Hand Soap Toiletry Sheets come in packs of 50 sheets in a compact, pocket size plastic container. Simply add water and the eco-friendly sheets dissolve into fresh, fragrant hand soap. 

The Barrier Method Winged Mask
Photo: Courtesy of The Barrier Method

The Barrier Method Winged Mask is a stylish combination of scarf plus interior mask with hidden, adjustable ear loops. Antibacterial, light weight, wicking, UPF 50, breathable, non-pilling, and wrinkle-resistant fabric construction is available in a variety of fashion colors and prints. MSRP: $55

Pacsafe ViralOff
Photo: Courtesy of Pacsafe

The Pacsafe ViralOff face mask is treated with Polygiene® ViralOff®, which functions like a sanitizing gel for your mask. The knitted polyester mask is available in three sizes, and will hold 99% fewer viruses in 2 hours than one without anti-viral treatment. MSRP: $12.95

Pacsafe silver iON
Photo: Courtesy of Pacsafe

The Pacsafe silver iON face mask protects you with a silver ion fabric that effectively disinfects and reduces microbes, and doesn’t wash out. The silver ion cotton outer layer, modal graphene filter and cotton lining provides at least 99% filtration efficiency against microbials and airborne particles down to 2.5 microns. Like the Pacsafe ViralOff, the Pacsafe silver iON face mask is available in three sizes. MSRP: $39.95

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If You Must Fly

Global air travel was down 85% this summer, with only domestic travel in China recovering to any meaningful extent (back to 66% of normal levels by the end of summer). In the U.S., travel originally dropped 95%, and by August had stabilized at 30% of normal levels. For those who have to fly, or have chosen to fly again, travel goods manufacturers have developed sanitation products ranging from basic kits to extreme full body protection. NeetPac has you covered, literally, with a kit that includes a tray table cover, headrest cover, and antibacterial towelette and hand sanitizer wipes. The Travel Safe Portable Hygiene Kit by Enviro-Point contains two 3-ply disposable face masks, two pairs of gloves, a packet of ten disinfectant wipes and a 100 ml hand sanitizer bottle, all contained in an eye-catching, reusable travel pouch.

If you weren’t a fan of Clorox wipes – or simply can’t find any – The Barrier Method has the Organic Anti-bacterial Travel Towelettes packaged in a convenient travel tube, a 10-pack of biodegradable wipes. Each tube contains 10 nickel-size compressed bamboo towelettes infused with certified organic and wild harvested essential oils. Add 1 oz of water and the biodegradable tablets expand to an 8” x 10” bamboo sheet, large enough to clean your seatback and tray table and leave your hands smelling fresh.

Travelon also developed two sizes of compact, reusable anti-microbial cloths for wiping your hands and the area around you. The Antimicrobial On-the-go Cloth is packed in a soft silicon bulb that clips to your bag, and is sold in a set of two. The same safe and permanent silver ion antimicrobial treatment is also available in a full-size 50” x 29.5” Anti-Bacterial Travel Towel, which comes packed in its own mesh carry bag.

For the truly terrified (and truly determined to travel), Retra Products is developing NEWLVL, a complete coverall with hands-free mode. NEWLVL is a hooded poncho with integrated mask, eye shield and gloves. The gloves are attached to the sleeves and can be removed from the interior without exposing your hands. Like the rest of 2020, it has to be seen to be believed.

NeetPac
Photo: Courtesy of NeetPac

NeetPac has you covered, literally, with a kit that includes a tray table cover, headrest cover, and antibacterial towelette and hand sanitizer wipes. MSRP: $11.49

Enviro-Point Travel Safe Portable Hygiene Kit
Photo: Courtesy of Enviro-Point

The Travel Safe Portable Hygiene Kit by Enviro-Point contains two 3-ply disposable face masks, two pairs of gloves, a packet of ten disinfectant wipes and a 100 ml hand sanitizer bottle, all contained in an eye-catching, reusable travel pouch. MSRP: $9.50

The Barrier Method Organic Anti-bacterial Travel Towelettes
Photo: Courtesy of The Barrier Method

If you’re not a fan of Clorox wipes – or simply can’t find any – The Barrier Method has the Organic Anti-bacterial Travel Towelettes package in a convenient travel tube, a 10-pack of biodegradable wipes. Each tube contains 10 nickel-size compressed bamboo towelettes infused with certified organic and wild harvested essential oils. Add 1 oz of water and the biodegradable tablets expand to an 8” x 10” bamboo sheet, large enough to clean your seatback and tray table and leave your hands smelling fresh. MSRP: $10

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