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HEALTHY TRAVELER

Germ-zapping toothbrushes and other on-the-go gadgetry

Whether you need a rest or a workout, a few new products may help take the rough edges off your trip.

January 01, 2006|Kathleen Doheny | Special to The Times

OH, those little annoyances of traveling: Your contact lenses turn gritty halfway through your trip. Your ankles swell after sitting too long on a plane. Your toothbrush gets grimy after days on the road. You want a workout but there's no gym at your hotel.

You think you have to buck up and deal with it but, no, there are solutions out there -- some low-tech and high-tech products that go easy on a post-holiday budget.

Eye care: If your rewetting drops aren't helping to soothe your tired, dry eyes, try Tranquileyes, an adjustable eye mask that blocks light completely with its wraparound style. It has two removable moisture pads that you can dampen with filtered or purified water, squeeze out the excess, then sit back and hydrate. It has the same effect as a warm washcloth but without the mess. The mask costs $34.85 from Magellan's travel supplier, www.magellans.com or (800) 962-4943.

Or the next time you replace your contact lenses, choose ones designed to combat dry eyes. Lenses made with senofilcon A, a new silicone material, reduced dryness and discomfort, researcher Robin Chalmers reported last month in a study presented at the American Academy of Optometry annual meeting in San Diego. She fitted 257 lens wearers with the new lenses. Two weeks later, 88% said they had improved comfort and 75% reported less eye dryness.

The lens she studied is Acuvue Oasys with Hydraclear, and the study was sponsored by Vistakon, which markets the lens. Another lens that provides comparable comfort is the Proclear by CooperVision, says Chalmers, an Atlanta independent researcher and optometrist.

But contact lens wearers often overlook what sounds like obvious advice, Chalmers says: "Pack your glasses." A pair of backup eyeglasses can save a trip if you lose a contact or get an eye infection, she says.

Dental hygiene: Germ-phobic about your toothbrush? Don't fret. Now there's a travel version of the Violight Travel Toothbrush Sanitizer, a downsized model of the in-home product introduced last year. It's a silver case about the size of a pencil box, says Joel Pinsky, chief executive and founder of the company. "Just about any size toothbrush lays in," he says, except Sonicare brand brushes.

"When you close the cover, the unit will glow blue," Pinsky says. "Germicidal ultraviolet light will turn on for seven minutes. It kills up to 99.9% of any germs."

Violight costs $29.95 and is available at www.violight.com or (800) 950-6101.

Swollen ankles: The Foot Exercise Cushion is designed to keep your circulation going and prevent swelling when you're stuck in a chair. It's made of bright green plastic and about the size of a small pizza. Inflate -- you need fairly good lung power -- and place it on the floor, using your feet to stomp gently on it and push air from one chamber to another. It folds flat for packing and measures 16 1/2 by 13 inches.

The cushion is $9.85; www.magellans.com, (800) 962-4943.

Working out: Now there's no excuse to avoid a workout. Not even if the hotel gym is closed. Not even if the place doesn't have one. The PumpPod, a personal, portable, digital training program, can be downloaded and used with your iPod, Treo or BlackBerry.

The program has multiple image-based exercises, easy-to-follow instructions and workouts with increasing intensity, says Craig Schlossberg, the company's chief executive.

You can pick from 43 programs, including strength training, cardiovascular and yoga. There's a Pumped2Go, designed for strength and cardio workouts in hotel rooms, with two workouts of 12 exercises each.

PumpPod Trainers are $19 each; www.pumppod.com or (877) 976-4624.

Healthy Traveler appears every other week. Kathleen Doheny can be reached at kathleendoheny@earthlink.net.

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