Good design makes getting from point A to point B suck less. Here are seven accessories we came across in 2014 that aim to solve weary travelers’ problems, big and small—they’ll ease your neck cramps from sitting in too-small airplane seats; they’ll help you locate that Chapstick in the dark caverns of your bag; they’ll help you track down missing luggage. They're perfect gifts for the season of going over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house.
Losing luggage is an all-too-common travel nightmare. Less stressful, but still annoying, is having too pay a fine for exceeding an airline's carry-on weight limit, or boxing out fellow passengers for access to your gate’s lone electrical socket. The Bluesmart, which bills itself as "the world's first smart, connected carry-on," pairs with iOS and Android apps to help you avoid such situations. A location tracker helps you keep tabs on your bag, even when out of sight; a built-in scale lets you weigh it; and when your phone dies, you can charge it using outlets built into the bag’s exterior pockets. Buy it here for $235.
If you're sick of the TSA snooping through your carry-on, the Vesper is here to help: it's a discreet, beautiful vibrator that you can wear like a necklace. Designed by San Francisco-based company Crave, the classy pendant vibrates when you press a button. It's waterproof, USB-rechargable, and available in three colors including silver, rose, and 24-karat gold. You can even get your Vesper engraved with custom text: The vibrator's makers suggest Charles Eames's famous quote, "Take your pleasure seriously." Get it here for $69.
You know your train ticket is somewhere in your bag, but it's hidden in a soup of receipts, crumbs, headphones, and other junk. The Kangaroo Light, designed by Madrid-based Studio Banana Things, is designed to sit at the bottom of your bag and make finding your stuff easier. The foldable grid of glowing LED triangles is soft and bendable, and it has a few different modes, so it can flicker or pulse or produce different levels of light. It conveniently charges via USB. It can also be used in any place where a nice-looking soft light would come in handy: camping, during power outages, as a reading light in bed. Pre-order it for $123 here.
Seatylock looks deceptively like a normal bicycle saddle, but a three-foot steel chain lock folds into it. When you take the seat off its post, the lock comes out, and it takes 30 seconds to secure your bike frame and seat to any pole or fixed object. This means that, unlike most bike locks, it's not a pain to transport and can't be forgotten at home. A universal adaptor makes it compatible with any standard bike—it’s as easy as replacing your bike saddle—and it can adjust to your preferred seat position. It will be available in a range of colors for cyclists who like to turn their rides into fashion statements. Pre-order it here for $90.
Unlike its larger, bizarre-looking predecessors, the Ostrich Pillow Mini is a personal power nap pillow that doesn't make you look like an alien. Created by Madrid-based designer Kawamura-Ganjavin, it can be worn like an elbow pad or like a boxing glove, and it's perfect for power napping, allowing you to catch a quick snooze on an airplane or a bus without making your arm fall asleep. Pre-order the Ostrich Pillow Mini here for $25.
Airlines keep their cabins dry in part to prevent corrosion. Combine a flight with a night's sleep in a dry hotel room, and it's enough to desiccate anyone. Designed by Korean design studio Cloudandco for 11+, the Bottle Humidifier Mini is a tiny 550-ml bottle that uses replaceable filter straws to suck up water and turn it into a fine mist, humidifying your personal space. It lasts up to 13 hours, contains a built-in anti-bacterial filter, and weighs less than a pound. Get it here for $60.
The Unbrella suggests we've been doing umbrellas wrong all this time. Instead of folding your umbrella into a point, you fold it into a little cone. This has three major advantages: first, it allows the Unbrella to stand upright by itself without using a hook or umbrella stand. Because the side of the umbrella fabric facing you will always be dry, you won't get anyone wet if you jump into a bus or train with your Unbrella. And when you open it back up, the wet side is still facing away from you, though don't point your umbrella at anyone when you pop it. Unbrella is available from H Concept in Japan for around $92 here.