MUJI To Open First West Coast Store In San Francisco This Fall

California design junkies rejoice: Japanese retailer MUJI recently announced that it will open its first West Coast location in San Francisco‘s SOMA district this fall. With 7,250 square feet of retail space, the new store will be the fifth and largest MUJI location in the United States.

MUJI has developed a cult following in the design community for producing simple, functional lifestyle items that are high on quality and low in price. The MUJI retail environment mirrors this streamlined approach, with spare design, soft lighting and Zen music in each of the chain’s four New York City locations.

While the store sells everything from notebooks to frying pans to organic cotton T-shirts, travelers will be especially pleased to find a wide range of well-designed travel accessories. The store’s assortment of bags, pouches, cases, bottles, containers and dividers will revolutionize the way you pack, as well as introduce a touch of Japanese simplicity into your travel experience.

[Flickr image via Stephen Spencer]

3 Innovative Reusable Water Bottles

Earth Day may be next week, but being eco-conscious has become a year-round trend.

When it comes to being green, here are three water-bottle designers that are breaking the mold without breaking the bank.

This bulbous-looking water bottle comes with a built-in filter that should be changed every few months. Made with recycled plastic, the BPA-free Bobble never spilled in my bag even after sloshing around for a week. The filter also makes filling up at the airport water fountain seem just a little less distasteful.
Price: $9.95; replacement filters cost $6.95 each.
Where to Buy: This brand-new bottle is currently shipping to major retailers (including JCPenney, Whole Foods, and Barnes & Noble) and should start appearing on store shelves in the next month or so. You can also order it now from; add from $3.95 for shipping and handling.

This BPA-free Vapur resembles a Capri Sun drink pouch more than a water bottle. The lightweight, collapsible design means you can flatten it, fold it, or roll it up when it’s empty. The so-called “anti-bottle” can also be frozen, tossed in the dishwasher, and generally squashed.
Price: $8.95
Where to Buy:; add from $4.45 for shipping and handling. Flight 001 also carries the Vapur for $10, but it’s so popular that it’s often out of stock.

Hydro Flask
The Hydro Flask looks like a typical stainless steel water bottle, but the unique insulated double wall means you can pour hot or cold liquids inside. The sweat-proof design also keeps your bag from getting soaked from any condensation.
Price: From $23.99
Where to Buy: Check for a list of stores; for online orders, add from about $9 for UPS Ground shipping.

Al Gore would be so proud.


SkyMall Monday: SkyRest Travel Pillow

I suppose it’s about time that I used my SkyMall Monday bully pulpit to review a product that is directly related to travel. Sure, you could use the Double Umbrella on a trip to London, but what about when you’re en route to your destination? How will you arrive there well-rested and prepared to make the most of your time away from your empty, passionless life? Well, you’ll rest easy on your flight if you have the SkyRest Travel Pillow.

You could certainly purchase an airline pillow covered in lice and chlamydia or carry along one of those horseshoe shaped neck pillows that scream, “I’m a loser.” But studies have shown that the human body’s natural sleeping position is seated upright while the head and neck are tilted forward at a 68.4 degree angle. What studies? Hey, look over there!

Available only in dark seafoam green, the SkyRest Travel Pillow is inconspicuous and allows you to sleep while your fellow travelers are none the wiser. And it’s inflatable, so you know you’ll sleep like a baby once you have exhausted yourself filling it with air. Considering that it’s 14″ wide, 12″ deep, 11″ tall in the front and 17″ tall in the back, you’ll most likely have it inflated in time for the person next to you to take her first bathroom break. At which time I’m sure you’ll easily be able to move it out of the way for her.

And the best part? Since it rests on your lap, when the person in front of you reclines his seat, the pillow will be pushed back into you. It’s like getting a face massage in a fancy spa…but for free!

Just look at what the product description has to say about this fantastic product:

Why not join our many thousands of satisfied customers and enjoy the benefits of this uniquely different and very flexible travel pillow.

Yes, people who use this product like to be influenced by peer pressure and abhor proper punctuation. And while I have never actually seen any of these satisfied customers in person, I am sure that this person wishes that she had purchased the SkyRest Travel pillow before her flight. Don’t make the same mistake she did!

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

Prepasted Toothbrush

Here’s another option for toothbrush/toothpaste help when on the road.

After my friend checked in at The Ohio University Inn and Conference Center in Athens, Ohio, she discovered she left her toothbrush at home. The helpful person working at the hotel reception handed her three toothbrushes, each in its own package. “Oh, no,” my friend said. “I only need one.”

“But these are one-use toothbrushes,” he explained. Since she was staying in for three nights, she could have one for each night. Intrigued, she took all three and wondered if these toothbrushes would fall apart after one use. Nope. Turns out, it’s a one-use toothbrush only if you want more toothpaste and you don’t have any. The ReadyBrush comes with toothpaste already in the bristles. All you need to do is wet the bristles and the toothpaste is activated.

Since my friend did have toothpaste, she saved one of these prepackaged wonders for me. When I joined her yesterday, in time for last sessions of the annual Spring Literary Festival at Ohio University (an event I go to every year), I was happy to receive my own ReadyBrush. I can see how these are handy for a road trip or to slip in a bag as a just in case. I do hate to think that people would buy these by the fistful and litter them across the world in the name of ease.