Living on the Road

Tom Bihn Travel Tray

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Keep your small things in one place when you travel

A lot of us frequent travelers, for business or pleasure, like to have our creature comforts to make travel a bit more bearable. They are like bringing a little piece of home with us, or at least keeping the umbilical cord attached to home base. And we always need something to carry all or keep track of all of that stuff.

One of my creature comforts is the Tom Bihn Travel Tray, which I’ve been using for about four years. Like most other travel trays, it’s collapsible, and you open it up in your destination to use as a collection bucket for all of your everyday carry items, or whatever you want corralled in one place. At the end of the day, I empty my pockets into it, and also add my watch and whatever other small items I might want to find readily during my stay. It goes into a hotel room drawer, or on top of a desk or night table.

The Tom Bihn Travel Tray’s advantage over other travel trays is that it has a drawstring top, much like a backpack with a rain sleeve. This is handy when I leave some small items behind for the day, like earbuds or coins from other countries on a multi-country trip. I pull the drawstring and pop the Travel Tray in to the room’s safe or back into my luggage, out of site. It also makes a nice collection bucket at home on top of a dresser or in a closet or a drawer.

The drawstring feature is also very useful during the actual travel process. While checking in at the airport (check-in kiosks are not found in many countries where I travel), or just after, I take the Travel Tray out of my carry-on, open it, dump in the contents of my pockets—wallet, coins, cell phone, pens—add my watch, pull the drawstring and put the Travel Tray back into my carry-on. Once on the other side of security I put the contents back into my pockets.

I recommend the more brightly colored Travel Trays so they are easy to spot if you forgot to pack them. I have a red Travel Tray so that I can spot it if I left it behind. This strategy has worked all but once, and only a hasty return to the hotel before my flight allowed me to retrieve my Travel Tray. A couple of hotel employees had it, and were trying to figure out what it was for.

You can see a couple of videos of how the Tom Bihn Travel Tray works on the product website. Beware of giving the Travel Tray as a gift. There is a high probability that the recipient will try it as a hat.

There are other Tom Bihn travel products reviews on Cool Tools, notably the Western Flyer and the Brain Bag. Tom Bihn products are a bit pricy, but are well-made in the USA, and backed by a lifetime guarantee. You can check out the forums on the Tom Bihn website to see that there is quite a loyal fan base.

-- Tom Divney 10/8/15