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Welcome to IndependentTraveler.com’s 12 Days of Travel Giveaways! Every day between December 2 and December 13, we’ll feature a different travel product for our readers to win. You may enter to win as many items as you wish (but only once per item).

pronto plusToday’s featured product is a travel-size container of Pronto Plus, a pesticide spray designed to kill bed bugs, dust mites and other pests. Travelers who are worried about bed bugs in a hotel room can spray the box spring, mattress and other spots prone to critters (just be sure to air the room out for a few hours before sleeping). The product can also be used in your own house if you’re unlucky enough to bring the pests home with you after a trip. Read the instructions carefully before using.

You can purchase a three-pack of the travel-size Pronto Plus for $12.99 at Amazon.com.

Want to win the Pronto Plus? Leave a comment below by 11:59 p.m. ET on December 15, 2013. We’ll pick one person at random to win the product. This giveaway is open only to residents of the Lower 48 United States and the District of Columbia. To read the full contest rules, click here.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner is Kelly Malleck. Congratulations!

Stay tuned tomorrow for another giveaway!

12 Days of Travel Giveaways: Full List

– written by Sarah Schlichter

plugbug worldWelcome to IndependentTraveler.com’s 12 Days of Travel Giveaways! Every day between December 2 and December 13, we’ll feature a different travel product for our readers to win. You may enter to win as many items as you wish (but only once per item).

Today’s featured product is a PlugBug World iPad/iPhone charger. This gadget is ideal for people who travel with a MacBook and an iPad or iPhone; it attaches to any MacBook power adapter to create a dual charger for both your laptop and your mobile device. It includes five different snap-on plugs, allowing it to fit into just about any electrical outlet around the world. You can purchase this product for $44.99 on the Twelve South website.

Want to win the PlugBug World? Leave a comment below by 11:59 p.m. ET on December 15, 2013. We’ll pick one person at random to win the gadget. This giveaway is open only to residents of the Lower 48 United States and the District of Columbia. To read the full contest rules, click here.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner is Gina Strickland. Congratulations!

12 Days of Travel Giveaways: Full List

– written by Sarah Schlichter

Welcome to IndependentTraveler.com’s 12 Days of Travel Giveaways! Every day between December 2 and December 13, we’ll feature a different travel product for our readers to win. You may enter to win as many items as you wish (but only once per item).

toothbrush shield travel goodiesToday’s featured product is a set of 10 protective shields for your toothbrush from IntelliDent Toothbrush Shield. The plastic holders that many of us use to cover our toothbrushes while traveling tend to trap bacteria over time. These disposable shields wick moisture away from your toothbrush and block up to 99 percent of airborne and surface bacteria. Each one is effective for about seven days. You can purchase a set of 10 shields for $5.99 on the IntelliDent website.

The shields in today’s giveaway are part of a travel gift pack that also includes Revitin toothpaste (a new naturally protective antioxidant toothpaste), a toothbrush, a travel package of tissues, an eye mask and ear plugs.

Want to win this package? Leave a comment below by 11:59 p.m. ET on December 15, 2013. We’ll pick one person at random to win the package. This giveaway is open only to residents of the Lower 48 United States and the District of Columbia. To read the full contest rules, click here.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner is Chris Straub. Congratulations!

Stay tuned tomorrow for another giveaway!

12 Days of Travel Giveaways: Full List

– written by Sarah Schlichter

Welcome to IndependentTraveler.com’s 12 Days of Travel Giveaways! Every day between December 2 and December 13, we’ll feature a different travel product for our readers to win. You may enter to win as many items as you wish (but only once per item).

royce freedom walletToday’s product is a Royce Freedom Wallet, which includes a GPS tracker that can be linked to your smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth 4.0 technology — so you’ll always know where the wallet is. Say you leave it behind in your hotel room; once you get outside the range of your Bluetooth capability (typically up to 100 feet or so), you’ll get an alert on your phone letting you know the location of your wallet before you get too far away. This also means that if the wallet is stolen, you’ll find out almost immediately, enabling you to notify the authorities and be proactive in canceling your credit cards.

The leather wallet incorporates material that blocks radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, which could protect you from identity theft. (You can learn more about RFID technology in Could This Wallet Keep Your Passport Safe?)

The tracker device is compatible with mobile devices such as the iPhone 5, the iPad 3, the Samsung Galaxy S3 and others, and uses an app that’s available for iOS and Android. You can buy the wallet for $99 on Amazon.com.

One caveat: There are no clear instructions for how to install the batteries in the tracker, and doing it wrong can damage the sensitive technology or lead to the wallet’s location not tracking as expected. (We learned this one the hard way.) To install the batteries, pull out the tray most of the way, insert the batteries with the positive side up into the grooved openings and gently push the tray back in.

We’re giving away a black Royce Freedom Wallet for Men. Want to win it? Leave a comment below by 11:59 p.m. ET on December 15, 2013. We’ll pick one person at random to win the wallet. This giveaway is open only to residents of the Lower 48 United States and the District of Columbia. To read the full contest rules, click here.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner is Wayne Johnson. Congratulations!

Stay tuned tomorrow for another giveaway!

12 Days of Travel Giveaways: Full List

– written by Sarah Schlichter

Welcome to IndependentTraveler.com’s 12 Days of Travel Giveaways! Every day between December 2 and December 13, we’ll feature a different travel product for our readers to win. You may enter to win as many items as you wish (but only once per item).

Today’s product is a Kuhi Comfort Travel Pillow, which we reviewed in Travel Pillow Challenge: The Quest for Good Airplane Sleep:

kuhi comfort travel pillow“The Kuhi Comfort Travel Pillow is not your standard-shaped neck pillow. It’s made of two soft cylindrical balls, attached by a strap. The selling point is that you can use it multiple ways. Turn it one way and the curved part is by your neck; flip it around and the flat part is against you. Straighten the strap and you can tuck one end over your shoulder and cuddle the other, put it behind you for back support and place it in your lap to rest a book.” The product retails for $39.99 on the Kuhi Comfort website.

We’re giving away a gently used Kuhi Comfort Travel Pillow. Want to win it? Leave a comment below by 11:59 p.m. ET on December 15, 2013. We’ll pick one person at random to win the pillow. This giveaway is open only to residents of the Lower 48 United States and the District of Columbia. To read the full contest rules, click here.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner is Naomi Pradhan. Congratulations!

Stay tuned tomorrow for another giveaway!

12 Days of Travel Giveaways: Full List

– written by Sarah Schlichter

Welcome to IndependentTraveler.com’s 12 Days of Travel Giveaways! Every day between December 2 and December 13, we’ll feature a different travel product for our readers to win. You may enter to win as many items as you wish (but only once per item).

supersmarttagsToday’s product is a set of SuperSmartTags, which are luggage tags designed to help you to keep track of your bags while you travel. We reviewed the tags in Four High-Tech Luggage Tags and Apps That Will Save Your Trip:

“SuperSmartTags feature a code that anyone can use to report your bag online. Once the code for your bag is submitted, you’ll receive a text message, email or phone call explaining that your luggage has been found. Enter your itinerary on the SuperSmartTag site and airport staff will be able to view your travel plans and forward your luggage to your next destination. SuperSmartTag retails for $19.95 AUD [about $18.15 USD as of this posting] and comes with a three-year membership to the SuperSmartTag system.”

We’re giving away a set of two SuperSmartTag luggage tags. Want to win them? Leave a comment below by 11:59 p.m. ET on December 15, 2013. We’ll pick one person at random to win the tags. This giveaway is open only to residents of the Lower 48 United States and the District of Columbia. To read the full contest rules, click here.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner is Andrew Perry. Congratulations!

Stay tuned tomorrow for another giveaway!

12 Days of Travel Giveaways: Full List

– written by Sarah Schlichter

j bullivant solar backpackAlways excited to test out gadgets that might make my travels easier, I set off for Alaska last month with the Solar Backpack from J. Bullivant, a company that specializes in what it calls “Urban Survival Gear.” The pack is equipped with enough pockets and compartments to fit everything but the kitchen sink, as well as built-in solar panels for charging what’s known as a Personal Power Generator (PPG) — a tiny power pack for charging a cell phone or iPad when your devices are dead and there just aren’t enough outlets.

When it comes to the bag’s construction, I have no complaints. It’s comfortable, attractive, lightweight and durable. (Anything that survives my chronic overpacking has to be.) The storage options are plentiful, with spots specifically designed to hold everything from laptops and pens to car keys and spare change. There are even hidden compartments for more important items like passports and wallets.

The Ultimate Guide to Travel Packing

But this backpack’s claim to fame is its ability to charge electronics — and unfortunately, in that regard it was a bit of a bust. After two days of putting the pack in the sun for several hours, I saw no increase in the charge it gave to the PPG. It does work well if you use the included power/car adapter to plug the PPG directly into the wall to charge, but if you’re going to spend time and effort doing that, you might as well just plug in your cell phone or laptop or whatever it is you need the PPG for in the first place.

Of course, the semi-functionality of the product wouldn’t be such a big deal if it were priced in line with other backpacks. But for the most basic model, you can expect to shell out nearly $200. The amount you’ll pay increases from there, depending on what else — pepper spray, hazmat mask, water purification system, ballistic shield — you choose to add to your paranoia pack. (And no, we’re not kidding about anything in that list.)

All things considered, this is a great item to own if you’re active and need to keep your things organized on the go. The PPG is an added bonus if you have access to a car or wall outlet, but don’t get too hung up on the solar panel “cool” factor.

The Suitcase That Beats Bed Bugs

Want to try it for yourself? We’re giving away our (gently used) Solar Backpack. Just leave us a comment below by 11:59 p.m. ET on October 31, 2013. We’ll pick one person at random to win the backpack. This giveaway is open only to residents of the Lower 48 United States and the District of Columbia. To read the full contest rules, click here.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. Frannie Heath has won the backpack. Congratulations! Keep an eye on our blog for further chances to win.

– written by Ashley Kosciolek

doorjammerAs a 5-foot-1 woman who travels alone on a semi-regular basis, I’m always on the lookout for ways to feel more secure on the road. That’s why I was intrigued when the DoorJammer crossed my desk.

The sturdy red gadget is a more sophisticated version of those little triangular wedges you can shove under a door to keep it from being forced open. It has an adjustable foot that allows it to be used on a variety of surfaces and even on uneven floors.

I gave it a try here in the IndependentTraveler.com office, once on carpet and once on a wood floor. While I wasn’t immediately sure how to work the DoorJammer just from looking at it, the step-by-step directions in the manual were easy to follow — put the flat part under the door and tighten the bolt until the engagement foot is firmly anchored against the floor. To take it off, unscrew the bolt. (In an emergency such as a fire, you can also simply pull straight up on the DoorJammer, and it will release immediately. I tested both removal strategies with no problems.)

When someone pushed on the door from outside, the DoorJammer held firm; although there was a clear gap between the frame and the upper part of the door (where my potential assailant was exerting force), the door did not open enough to let anyone in.

Hotel Safety Tips

To see how the DoorJammer works, check out this short video:



Do you really need the DoorJammer if you’re staying in a hotel with both a standard lock and a deadbolt? Probably not. But at hostels, older properties or budget hotels with only single locks or flimsy-looking chains, a product like the DoorJammer can offer an extra layer of protection. It won’t take up much space in your suitcase either: it weighs in at 8 ounces, and stands 4.75 inches high and 2.75 inches wide. You can buy it for $29.99 plus shipping and handling on Door-Jammer.com.

33 Ways to Sleep Better at a Hotel

Want to try it out for yourself? We’re giving away our (gently used) DoorJammer! Just leave us a comment below by 11:59 p.m. ET on October 9, 2013. We’ll pick one person at random to win the DoorJammer. This giveaway is open only to residents of the Lower 48 United States and the District of Columbia. To read the full contest rules, click here.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner of the DoorJammer is Terry Kong. Congratulations!

– written by Sarah Schlichter

vibrating travel beltStanding in the middle of a sidewalk with a map spread out in front of your face, trying to determine whether the cathedral is to the right or left, is a sure way to let everyone know you’re a tourist.

And that’s not only embarrassing; it’s dangerous too. You can be sure pickpockets and scammers are noticing you. But even with maps downsized onto our smartphones, how do you avoid looking like a lost tourist while trying to navigate unfamiliar places?

Enter the vibrating travel belt!

Essential Travel Apps

Here’s how it works. First, type your destination into a special GPS app you’ve downloaded onto your phone to get walking directions. Then plug your belt, which looks like a normal brown belt, into the phone via a small cable. The phone will send the directions to your belt and, as you walk, the belt will vibrate in one of four places indicating which way to go.

Directions call for you to go forward? The front of the belt will vibrate. Time to turn right? The right side of the belt will vibrate. And so on.

Sound too futuristic to be real? You’re halfway right. Triposo, best known for Android and iOS travel guides, has created a working prototype of the belt, but isn’t yet in a position to make it available to the general public.

The Art of Travel: How to Get Lost in a High-Tech World

The company is currently raising funds for the belt’s production on Indiegogo.com. If the financial goal is reached, Triposo hopes to make the belt available by February 2014. Would you buy it?

– written by Dori Saltzman

cityzen dressesWhat happens when an architect gets her hands on aerial topography? She turns maps of major cities (New York, Tokyo, Paris, London, Dhaka) into dresses, purses and scarves, of course. Initially we rolled our eyes at the idea, but let’s face it: the results are super fun. The line, called Cityzen by Azin, was created by New York City architect Azin Valy, who got the idea while helping with an exhibition on urban planning for New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

It’s not always apparent that the prints are really maps — which is probably a good thing! — but the apparel still turns heads with bright colors and fun shapes. What we find extra intriguing, though, are the fun recommendations for things to do in each city for which a dress is made. Heading to Bangkok? Try Thai cuisine at Bo.Ian. Visiting Rome? Stroll through Bernini’s colonnades at St. Peter’s Basilica. We love that Valy also recommends a local charity in each city. (Check out more here, on the right.)

One caveat: While we were really excited by the concept, we weren’t so excited about the prices. A scarf will set you back $250, and the least expensive dress is $762 — clearly not ideal for a woman on a budget.

What to Pack for 4 Common Trip Types

Now it’s your turn. If you designed a dress for your favorite city, which city would you choose, and what would the ensemble look like? Leave your comments below.

– written by Ashley Kosciolek