Mosquito Repelling Gear: It Works

The last thing you want to bring home from your safari? Malaria. And if you’re a bug attractor like me, it’s not just the anti-malarials you’ll want to pack. You’ll also want a good sized helping of DEET infused goo. And some stuff made from fabrics that have mozzie repelling properties.

Once you’ve caved in to the fact that you’re going to be a khaki covered dork, your life will get a lot easier. Start with the BugsAway shirt from ExOfficio. In addition to UV protection, it’s made with Insect Shield, a fabric infused with permethrin, a bug repellent, that holds through 70 washings.

I liked this shirt a lot. I liked the side vents that let air in along the back, I liked the securely zippered pockets, I liked the cut. It comes in a couple of colors, not just khaki. It’s wrinkle resistant, so I could stuff it in my day pack and just shake it back out into shape. I wore my BugsAway shirt almost every evening in camp and in the buggier beach towns. The result? None of those nasty through the shirt mozzie bites. This is a great travel shirt, a fine addition to a tropical travel wardrobe. The shirt is 88.00 from ExOfficio — you might want to check out their complete BugsAway line.

I also wore an Cocoon Insect Shield sarong on a number of occasions. I wore it to the beach, I while hanging out on tour bus, in the tropics I used it as an extra layer over the paper thin sheets provided at my hotels. I wore it as a scarf on the safari rig and used it as a beach towel. Mine was a preview model — they’re not yet out on the US market, but keep an eye on the Cocoon site if you want one.

I always pack a wrap of some kind, it’s the most versatile and useful item. The bug proof features of this one meant that the I had a skirt/scarf/wrap that also kept the biters at bay. I got a minimal number of bites during my travels to mosquito choked places, and none of them were on the areas covered by the sarong or my bug proof shirt.

The rest of my clothing I sprayed down with Ultrathon insect repellent. Good for six weeks or six washings, it worked well and didn’t leave any detectable chemical smell in my clothing. I far preferred the treated clothing options to slathering myself with bug repellent; that stuff smells, gets sticky, and I was relieved to have to use it just on my exposed extremities.In addition to packing mosquito-proofed clothing, I included a sleeping bag liner/sleep sheet. Mine was cotton and also came from Cocoon. I was pleased that I’d decided to bring it along. Not only did it keep me from using the perfectly disgusting hotel sheets in Nairobi, it also provided just the right weight of coverage for those hot nights in camp. The liners are 36.00 and come in three colors.

The mosquitoes liked my sleep sheet no more than they liked my bug proof clothing, which is to say not at all. During my two week trip, I received the most bites the night I went tromping through the grass in the darkness without applying repellent to my sock-less feet and ankles. It was my own fault.

“Don’t get bit,” is one of the primary pieces of advice the doctor at my local travel clinic pushes on travelers bound to areas with mosquito or other bug-borne illnesses. It costs a little bit more to add bug repelling attire to your travel kit, but it’s worth it. This stuff works.

Five ways to lighten your load when traveling on business and pleasure

If you’ve gone on a long business trip, there’s a good chance you’ve tacked a vacation onto the front or back of it. Why not? You’re already on the road. If business takes you (or close to) an interesting place, it makes sense to get the most out of your experience – and the plane ticket you’ve already purchased. Unfortunately, this can be a pain sometimes. You wind up with a lot of luggage to drag around, which can be uncomfortable at best.

Don’t let this problem get in your way!

There are a number of ways you can change how you pack to make your business-and-pleasure combo easier to manage. Let’s take a look at five of them:

1. Get real about shoes: do you need footwear for casual, office and formal occasions? Try to consolidate. Getting down to one pair may be tough, but you should be able to find a pair of shoes that at least works from business casual through formal. It won’t be the best pair of shoes for any of these occasions, but it might be just good enough for all of them.

2. Recycle your wardrobe: use clothing form your business trip for nights out when you’re on vacation. It’s close enough. Maybe mix up the shirts and paints so you feel like you’re wearing something a little different from what you put on for the job.

3. Find a local laundry service: the hotels will gouge you, so don’t even think about using them. Try to find a dry cleaner with wash/dry/fold service at your destination. It isn’t as cheap as doing the laundry yourself, but it will be faster and easier. And you won’t have to pack as much.

4. Enlist your travel partner’s help: is your wife (or husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc.) going to meet you for the vacation portion of your trip? See if you can have him or her carry your vacation clothing for you. At least it cuts your load for the outbound side of your trip. Maybe the two of you could each carry half of what you need for the vacation part.

5. Stick to the essentials: wear the same suit twice. Skip the extra pair of jeans. You could probably get by on a lot less than you think!

Finding the perfect luggage for your cruise

On cruise vacations, a new goal on choosing the right luggage is to be able to walk on and off the ship with it by yourself. If you are physically able, this is the way to go.

Called doing it the “self-assist” way, the cruise lines require that you must be able to handle the luggage without assistance on and off the ship. If you can manage it yourself, you’ll save time and completely eliminate the possibility of your luggage being lost, stolen or rummaged through while you are not looking. Plus, you won’t have to wade through the sea of luggage after sailing to find yours among hundreds of others that look just like it.

If you can’t do that, you will need to give it to the porters at the pier to handle for you. (see photo)

Pre-Test:Which way sounds/looks like your luggage and the stuff in it will be better cared for?

Whatever you have, it will need to be small enough to fit through scanning machines on the ship, otherwise pretty much any size or shape will do.

Before you even think about looking for luggage though, we need to get the expectations for what it needs to handle straight. On a standard seven night cruise there will be two formal nights. Outside of that, there is broad acceptance for onboard apparel.

Consider where you’re going and what you’re packing before you shop for new luggage too. This will determine the quantity and size of luggage you’ll need. Not sure? Check travel guides and travel reviews for play by play recommendations before you shop. The big trick to making a budget on this stuff and sticking to it is knowing exactly what it is you want before you start looking for it.

Also consider that you will probably travel someplace else in your lifetime so versatility is a good factor to consider. A quick search of Gadling gear deals is probably a good place to start for the latest and greatest of what is out there right now.

Soft or Hard? Decide whether you want soft or hard-sided luggage. Heavier, hard-sided suitcases offer far better protection for fragile items. Soft luggage is lighter and bends when squished up against or rolled over by an airplane.

Check with your airline- Make sure the bags fits your airline’s approved carry-on size. The cruise line has no limits or restrictions on luggage but less is better here too. Choose a size that’s appropriate for the length of your trip. Keep in mind the possibility of needing to accommodate unexpected items or expand for a longer trip.

Here is a good line we have used on both short and long cruises as well as land vacations from Briggs and Riley.

Flickr photo by Marit and Toomas Hinnosaar

What to pack in a carry on – ten things Gadling readers actually use

So, you’ve got yourself the ultimate carry on for your upcoming air travel. Now, you have to figure out what to pack in it.

For those of us who check a bag, it can be hard to decide what, exactly, to bring on the plane with us. Valuables and documents are a must, for safety, but do you really need that computer cable? Do you need Bandaids? Did you splurge on a stupid gadget you’ll never use? Traveling light is key; it’s no fun lugging a full, heavy carry on around. We asked our readers on Facebook what they actually use during their flights. Take a look at this list before you overpack and weigh yourself down.

Ten things Gadling readers actually use from their carry ons:

1. Kindle – Marsha, Christine, Martha and Max

2. Book and/or magazine – Saadia, Amy, Karen, Despina, Norma and Nicole

3. Noise canceling or other headphones – Christine, Arun, Norma and Shelby4. Knitting – two Nicoles

5. Hand sanitizer or wet wipes – Candace, Saadia, Karen and Anna

6. Lotion – Saadia, Amy, Arun, and Karen

7. Neck pillow – Stephen and Norma

8. Contact lens gear – Max

9. Music device – Stephen, Arun, Despina, Martha, Ben and Max

10. Snacks or gum – Norma and Shelby

So. When you look at that carry on bag and wonder where to start, put in your valuables and documents, then take a look at the list above. Don’t cram it full in dire fear of boredom, and don’t worry about “emergency” stuff like Bandaids. They have those on the plane, you know.

What else do you use? Want to join in the conversation? Visit the Gadling Facebook page!


Photo by ahhhnice via Flickr.

Travel gear: How to pack a pair of shoes without a plastic bag

I’m a germaphobe who cringes at the idea of packing my shoes anywhere near my clothes. But travel requires you to get a little dirty, so I tell myself that a plastic bag has to be enough to keep the germs from contaminating the rest of my stuff.

But a funny thing happened while I was packing for a recent trip to Houston: I actually ran out of plastic bags. (Guess my effort to be green and use eco-friendly totes has finally paid off). I knew there were other packing shortcuts, but it felt wasteful to use a clean gallon-size Ziploc bag for my dirty shoes. Wrapping my shoes in something flimsy like tissue paper just wasn’t going to cut it, and the idea of putting my shoes in a New York Times plastic sleeve (that was just outside on the sidewalk) didn’t help the germaphobia.

Enter the Shoefly ($19.95), a machine-washable tote that protects your purse or suitcase from your dirty shoes. I know it sounds ridiculous, but the streets of New York City aren’t exactly clean. The bag, which has a drawstring closure, is large enough for a pair of sneakers, and it can easily stretch to fit a pair of heels. The bag’s material (a blend of polyester and Lycra) feels like velour, lending a glam touch to an otherwise pretty filthy function.

Granted, it does feel a little indulgent to justify buying a bag for your shoes when a plastic grocery bag is about as budget-friendly as you can get. But when it comes to measuring other things — the environment, perhaps? — I’m happy to run out of plastic bags. Plus, I love the idea of being able to launder the Shoefly bag when it gets dirty (both on the inside and out). If I were at all crafty (and had a sewing machine), this is the kind of thing that I’d love to make by the dozen.

All too often, travel gear is something that I pull out a few times a year but then put away until the next vacation. Luckily, the Shoefly is versatile enough for daily use, such as for changing into work shoes once I get to the office.

Where to Buy:
The Shoefly bag is currently only available online at for $19.95. Add $2.95 for shipping.