With summer travel to Israel around the corner, now's the time to plan your packing strategy. From new high-tech gadgets to easy-care clothing, from hybrid shoes to crushable sun hats, there's plenty to choose from as gifts for loved ones and must-haves for your own comfort. We've identified select products to help with common travel dilemmas. Peruse our list for solutions to help you pack light, avoid sunburns, save on batteries and more. An added bonus: nearly everything -- except for new prescription contact lenses -- is available online or by phone.
Women visiting Meah Shearim and other religious sites need cool clothes for modest cover-ups. The hip, Pack-N-Go Cotton Crinkle Skirt ($59) stores in its own pouch and welcomes wrinkles; Travelsmith.com, (800) 950-1600.
The organic cotton Sundancer Skirt ($35), a Sahalie exclusive, survives hikes, plentiful wearings and Israeli washing machines. Available in several colors, the color "Coldwater" pairs well with a refreshingly light weight Mesh Travel Top ($48). Top it off with a packable, washable Sydney Bucket Hat ($36). Alternatively, the stretchy, moisture-wicking Buff Bandana ($20) converts into a variety of styles; Sahalie.com, (800) 547-1160.
A convenient handbag is a woman's travel must. The Space Saver Bag ($29.50) offers plenty of pockets to tuck it away with outdoor style; Sahalie. A microfiber Convertible Bag ($50) doubles as a compact backpack; Travelsmith.
For him, a Pre-Wrinkled Shirt ($45) works for daily and Shabbat wear; Sahalie. Cotton Kenya Convertible Pants ($69.50) double as shorts by zipping off the lower portion; Travelsmith. And the Intrepid Travel Hat ($52), a lightweight fedora, breathes, bends and repels water. Wrap it into itself for travel and then pop it back into shape upon arrival; Travelsmith.
For him and her, breathable CoolMax blended with cotton wicks away moisture while providing sun protection. A variety of styles, polos, tees, long sleeve shirts and undies, are available. Travelsmith ($40 and up). Avoid insect bites and sunburns with Buzz Off Convertible Pants with UV30+ protection for him or her ($79); Sahalie.
Multipurpose sandals for hiking, touring and synagogue are the ticket. Chacos offer great support (even for those who usually wear orthotics) and come in a variety of designs. New thin-strap styles better conform to your foot. Lug soles offer great traction; ChacoUSA.com, (970) 527-4990, $75 and up.
Keen's unique hybrid designs are highly durable and hip. Slides slip off easily for airport security checks and long flights. Amphibious hiking styles offer great ventilation. And rubber toe guards prevent stubbing; REI.com ($60 and up).
Cool Mesh Low Quarter Socks ($9) keep tootsies cooler, drier and blister-free; Sahalie. And for shower wear and beach duty, Adidas ClimaCool Slides ($30) offer air mesh screening underfoot. Ventilated running shoes, warm weather sports tops and other products in the ClimaCool line are also available; Adidas.com, (800) 982-9337.
Weigh your luggage with a portable luggage scale ($9). Protect your laptop with a Ballistic Rolling Computer Case ($119). Schelp bags comfortably with the 3-in-1 Comfort Grip Handle ($13); Magellans.com, (800) 962-4943. And prevent carry-on security problems by packing the TSA-approved Personal Travel Kit ($70); Sharper Image.
For in-flight comfort, consider collapsible MP3-Enhanced Headphones ($35) and the ultra-cozy Nap Travel U-Pillow with Eye Mask ($25); Brookstone. Breathe in cleaner, fresher air with a personal Ionic Breeze Air Purifier ($30); Sharper Image. To relieve motion sickness, the watch-like ReliefBand ($89) sends gentle electrical pulses to interfere with nausea messages from the brain. Flight Spray ($15) helps relieve nasal dryness. And for bad backs and skinny tushies, select specially designed pillows and pads; Magellan's.
In Israel, cool off Aussie-style with a Cobber Neck Cooler ($15), which features lightweight nontoxic crystals that stay cool for up to three days; Travelsmith. A Mini Misting Fan ($13) simulates playing in sprinklers -- even in the back of the bus. The even larger Personal Cooling System ($30) fans the neck; Sharper Image.
Forget the need for constant batteries with electronic devices that you can crank up by hand. You "churn on" the Freeplay EyeMax Radio/Flashlight ($50) or juice up its solar cells in the sun; Sharper Image.Volunteering on kibbutz or studying abroad? Tune in with the AM/FM Grundig Emergency Hand Crank Radio ($50), complete with built-in flashlight and cell phone charger. Brookstone.com, (866) 576-7337.
Express yourself with a portable hand piano, frame drum, shaker or rattle, imported by Israeli musician Dror Sinai ($2 and up). Rhythm Fusion, rhythmfusion.zoovy.com, (831) 423-2048. Bird-watch with Micro-Zoom Binoculars ($99); Magellan's. And take home memories with the Canon Powershot SD600 ($349), an economical solution for super high resolution in one tiny package. Powershot.com, (800) 652-2666.
Stick to your workouts with the water-resistant PulseWear Max Heart-Rate Watch ($85); Sahalie. Ward off mosquitoes with 12-hour Ultrathon Insect Repellent ($9), and treat common maladies with all-natural Travel Rescue Kit ($20); Magellan's. And, if you wear contact lenses, ask your optometrist about super comfortable, dry-weather-friendly Acuvue Oasys ($25-$30).