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Essential Travel Diversions and Comforts

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If you're taking off to visit loved ones this holiday season or to sneak a few days of rest and reveling at a beach or ski resort or to take in some museums and theater, you'd best prepare yourself to endure quite a stressful journey while you're getting to wherever you're going.

You can count on delayed and canceled flights, fewer aircraft crowded with more passengers, inferior in-flight service with scarce amenities and an increased likelihood your checked luggage won't arrive at your destination when you do.

Rather than let the potential hardships of your travel experience keep you from embarking on your trip, equip yourself with things that reduce the stress. In essence, you should prepare to cocoon yourself with pleasing comforts and distractions. More specifically, having your own portable entertainment system and a sufficient supply of your favorite snacks will go very far in making the time you're being held hostage at the gate or in a plane that's stuck on the runway seem to pass more quickly.

Laptops have to be stowed during takeoff and landing, but at other times, they're a traveler's best friend. If you're looking for the perfect model to buy for yourself or for your favorite traveler, take a look at Sony VAIO's new TZ Series, the latest in lightweight, powerful, versatile, reliable technology. The units, which weigh 2.7 pounds and measure 7.5-by-10.75-by-0.75 inches with 11.1-inch vibrant screens, are great travel companions. You can hold them in one hand while you click with the other. The notebooks' batteries last for four to 7 1/2 hours, but you'd better get an extra backup battery to be on the safe side in case of lengthier delays.

Packed within these little cases is enough memory for you to store several movies and a lot of music, and there's a built-in DVD/CD player that works independently of Windows, so you can save battery power for longer music or movies. They also have wireless Internet connectivity so you can browse for information about weather that might be causing delays and e-mail loved ones to update them about your travel status.

You can find further details about the VAIO TZ Series at www.sonystyle.com.

To complete the cocoon effect, Bose QuietComfort headphones completely block out noises around you — the roar of airplane engines, annoying chitchat of other passengers and caterwauling of children who've been made to sit still for too long — while delivering first-rate wraparound sound that will make the airplane seem like your own private screening room.

QuietComfort headphones come in two models, which differ slightly for personal comfort. Additionally, Bose makes especially comfortable in-ear headphones that are designed to fit your ears comfortably and completely block out distracting sounds. Earlier this year, Bose introduced small desktop speakers that are extraordinary in quality and are ideal for turning your hotel room — or office space — into a concert hall. The speakers, which measure 5-by-5-by-2.5 inches and weigh about 2 pounds, pack easily and plug into your computer or MP3 player. Whether you consider having your favorite music with you on the road a luxury or a necessity, Bose is a brand that satisfies.

For more information on Bose headphones and portable speakers, visit www.bose.com.

Make no mistake about it, these products are pricey — but they're top-quality and will really make life on the road much more bearable — pleasant, even — for you and your favorite travelers. Best of all, both Sony and Bose have reliable distributors worldwide, so whether your travels take you around the U.S. or abroad, you'll find product support wherever you might need it.

Another item you'll want for in-flight cocooning is a blanket of your own. Airlines rarely supply blankets these days, and when they do, they're usually a bit of a mess. Magellan's Travel Supplies' catalog has two best-bet travel coverlets: the convenient fleece blanket is 60-by-36 inches, weighs 14 ounces and comes in blue, brown or periwinkle, while the luxurious washable cashmere throw is 66-by-40 inches, weighs 13.5 ounces and comes in charcoal, avocado or caramel. Both snuggly warmers are available at www.magellans.com.

To find out more about Jennifer Merin and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2007 JENNIFER MERIN

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.



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