Moans, groans (and some sighs of relief) as broods everywhere are doing the math. Yup, you guessed it! The countdown is on for back-to-school movements. And, like it or hate it, it’s shopping time. But while you last minute shoppers are scrambling to get that book-list completed, why not grab up some novel, and super useful back-to-school life improvement bits? We’ve screened through loads (and we mean loads!) of products for you and the results are out. Here’s our list of 8 back-to-school must-haves:

Cool Chroniclers

Cool Chroniclers
Maybe it’s the wide variety, great customer service, or the super-cool naked Renaissance men theme, but whatever the reason, we’re big fans of Nigel R. Khan Booksellers for all things paper. And we’re even bigger fans of their range of funified hard-cover homework journals with A+dorable designs to fit the pickiest personality! Our top pick is the Worded journal collection (priced at $ 98.50 per) with brazen colours and titles like “Bring it on”, “I’m all about lists”, “Lessons Learned”, “My head is in the clouds” “Big Ideas”, “All about now”, and the ultimate “Keep out.” And if you’re into whimsical patterns, defiant tattoos or inspirational words for tough times, the store carries other designs from $49.95 – $129.95. While you’re at it, grab up any of the funky Helix or Didacta Fashion Pencil Cases for $19.95- $29.95 or get the brilliant Crayola Dual-Ended Erasable Highlighter for just $24.95. This quick-drying neon yellow highlighter doubles as an eraser with one stroke erasability. It’s great for cleaning up a book after you’re done reading it, or to correct highlighted mistakes. Yup, it’s a bonafide bess invention; we put it right up there with the paperclip.


Everything MapedEverything Maped
We’ve scoured through numerous stationery stores, but no one beats the Maped selection at Superpharm. Why Maped you say? They’re just a totally out-of-the box stationery line that thinks up the coolest pen and paper accessories for you! For those who can’t keep a cap on it, get the Maped Colour pens Jungle Markers for just $36.99. If you like to get your Edward Scissorhands on, grab up the Maped Scissors Creative 5 blades for just $39.99. To fancify all paper projects (and hopefully get more marks for presentation), the Maped Creative Perfo Deco kit with 10 punching accessories at $170 is the tool for you. Get the Twist n’ flex rulers for $6.99 or the Kidy Grip Rulers for $8.99, and select the absolute fav of ours; the Maped Coloured Pencil Flex Box for just $24.99. This smart, flexible coloured pencil set becomes a pencil pot once opened, and seriously, you could entertain yourself with that awesome accordion feature through the most boring of classes! Oh, and along your way through the aisle, grab up a sturdy Five Star Pencil Pouch with large zippered compartments and binder attachments for $64.99 or less.


Handy Lunchies

Handy Lunchies
So folks have been raving about their finds at Simple Spaces, and after visiting the store, we totally get it! It’s safe to say that none of us are successful neat-freaks (we’re actually more like slobs) but once you go Spaces, you’ll never go cluttered. Seriously, these gals stock up on the best space organisers for your home and office, making it easy for us messy ones with products like the Digit Stuff Boxes, Digit Step Sorters and Scrapbook Central (all in the $60-$275 range). But our favourite find is their BPA-free range of lunch containers. At a decent $70, choose from the super stylish Rubbermaid water bottle Design Series or select from the range of Sistema Lunch Bunches/ Lunch Plus/ Quaddie/ Lunch Cube/ Sandwich Boxes (from $45-$130) with vibrant colours, multiple compartments and Klip It features. To keep your edibles hot or cold, get your super-cute designer Thermos food jars for $175, and for the ultimate health-foodie, keep your greens crisp and cold with your purchase of the handy Sistema Chill It: To Go lunch container with its easy-to-assemble knife and fork, separated compartments, and the fillable Ice Brick for only $145. Trust us, these munch-friendly containers are superior in quality and design innovation, and are both adult and kid approved!


Functional Gear

Functional Gear
In sweet T&T where mundane uniforms prevail, book bags are the students’ ultimate fashion statement. But why not mix fabulousness with function? For teens to young adults, our top picks are the awesome Converse backpacks with built in laptop compartments for $299. They’re not only strong enough to tote a ton of heavy textbooks, but come in either easy-to-wash fabric, or waterproof nylon with slight sheens. Rock your favourite colour and pick from their lines of royal blue, purple, lime green, black, silver and pink or patterned.  Or if backpacks are not your style, choose from their cool range of Converse messenger bags with internal organisation, padded laptop sleeves and adjustable shoulder straps; also for $299. Get matching pencil cases or for those back-to-campus guys and gals, choose from their line of cutting-style outerwear; comfy cotton jackets for $500 or waterproof nylons for $400. And the best part is that with every purchase, you’re entitled for the in-store “Spin the Wheel” promotion for your chance to get a major discount at your next purchase! If you’re into brands like Jansport, Puma or Nike, Sports Outlet is the place for you. They carry a wide (and we mean WIDE!) variety of colours, patterns and bag types and start from just $175 for the cute mini ones or $295 for standard sizes. For younger kiddies in the pre-school to primary school age bracket, our picks are at Lords and Lads or its sister store La Vie, located at both Trincity and Gulf City malls. For $295, select from their wide assortment of trolley bags for those little backs with kid-crazy characters like Superman, Batman, Ironman, Spiderman, Diego, Mario Bros, and Cars for boys, or Disney Princesses, Tinkerbell, Dora, Doc Mc Stuffins, Sophia the First and Minnie Mouse for girls. Oh, and did we mention that these bags come with built-in side pockets for water bottles and have matching lunch bags with mildew resistance features for just $135?


Breathable Kicks

Breathable Kicks
Now for foot business. Unique Books and Sports Center might be the best spot for back to school supplies in general, and definitely for shoes! They’ve got you totally covered for all school requirements, whether it be all black or white. There is definitely one near you with branches in Penal, San Fernando, Chaguanas, and Port of Spain! More top picks are housed at Payless Shoe Source. For ultimate comfort, practicality and decent looks, check out their lines of Smart Kids, Airwalk and Champion footwear. The blackest blacks and whitest whites start from as low as at $119 and feature flexi-soles, skid resistant features, cushioned insoles, breathable material and wide widths for wiggle-room.


Swatch it Out

Swatch It Out
We’re just in love with Swatch.  And it’s easy to see why as Swatch watches are totally swoonable with its blend of high quality and iconic designs. The company produces an endless variety of casual and dress watches in every colour imaginable so it’s a definite yes that you’ll find something to match your unique lifestyle and impress your fans. Our top school pick is the ridonkulously colourful Swatch Lacquered line priced at a cool $665. These fab, super sturdy, non-stinky, plastic watches can survive even washing machines with its water resistant features! And the best part is that they’re as light as a feather! If these funions aren’t your style, go browse through the oodles of other options at Bluegrass, Long Circular Mall.


Hybrid techHybrid Tech
We get how important your tech is for those piles of research projects and book reports (shudders*). Tablets are lightweight but are nightmare editors, and android supported laptops have great software but are like bulky relics. So why not mesh them? (Drumroll please***) Here’s our pick of the ultimate gadget for the student techies- the HP 10.1″ Slatebook x2 Hybrid. 100% notebook, 100% tablet and 100% Android- that’s 300% of pure awesomeness! For an unbeatable $2449.99 at Pricesmart online, with a One-Year Warranty, shift effortlessly from after-school entertainment to in-class work with this tablet that easily transforms into a notebook. Enjoy your favourite Android apps and manage everyday tasks with major system specs like Tegra 4 Quad Core 1.8GHz NVidia, on-board 2GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM and 16GB SSD Flash. The Slatebook comes with everything (except the case), has WLAN and Bluetooth features, a Keyboard Dock with Touchpad, front and rear cameras, and a10.1-inch diagonal LED-backlit touchscreen display. Best of all, this super gadget has up to 12 hours and 30 minutes of battery life! The only downside is that the item is currently only available online and is not available in the clubs. But have no fear, for bulk and online shopping, Pricesmart gets our ultimate thumbs up! On Slatebook pickup, make sure to stock up on your month’s supply of favourite juices, snack cups, toiletries, stationery, and anything else you may want to add to the list. But be sure to carry along your eco-friendly totes as the club has a strong environmental anti-plastic bag policy. If you prefer the Samsung Experience and don’t mind shelling out more cash, gadgetize with the Tablet Pro ($4299) or Note Pro ($7199) with downloadable document editors.


Ultimate DIY Shield kitUltimate DIY Shield-Kit
Most of us are by now absolutely freaked (!!!) by the ghastly amounts of contagions around us and the scary diseases and viruses out there. So here’s our genius idea; why not create your own no-germs and ultimate shield kit. If you’re a VRP (Very Rushed Person) who digs time and money-saving options, Superpharm is definitely the place for you! Seriously, you could get practically anything there (and it made our list a second time round!) Now let’s get down to it, in addition to the usual SPF chapstick, here’s what we paranoid folks at F1rst suggest:

  • Protect minor cuts and bruises and stop bleeding fast with the Handy Solutions Styptic Pencil for $15.99
  • Shield your precious face, nose and ears from those harsh UVs with the Ocean Potio Dab-On spotstick for $27.99
  • Get that unwanted facial dirt and shine under control with Absolute Oil Control Lingette Absorbing Tissues for just $20
  • Protect those pearly whites with Dr. Fresh Firefly/ Scope/ Crest/ oral hygiene travel kids from $14.99-$29.99. For younger ‘uns, Smile Buddy Kids oral care cases (with a whopping 24 included items) are available for $35.
  • De-chaft your beautiful skin with Jergens Utra Healing Mini Lotions for $10.99
  • While you’re at it, protect your luscious locks from horrific frizz with the Pop-Up Brush (Hairbrush with mirror) for $15 or the Impress Folding Brush with Mirror at $18.99.
  • Decontaminate away with Dr. Fresh’s Infectiguard Kids Angry Birds Hand Sanitizer (with backpack clip) for just $12.99
  • And for those need-to-go times, be prepared for the worst with Handy Solutions Paper Toilet Seat Cover (12 set) for $14.99

Yup. That does it. You’d definitely be set in the event of WW3!

So, there you have it!  Now go get your gear for a wildly successful Semester, and rock your fun accessories responsibly (yeah, we support rules…most of the time…) As you hype yourselves to bust those books, and we bid you happy shopping and an awe-tastic new term!


WriterJaneen has had 7+ years experience as an educator, and is currently an entrepreneur and blogger. She freelances as a business and marketing consultant, and is about to be inducted as a financial advisor with GLOC. Most importantly, she’s the mommy of two vivacious little boys and loves doing community work. She says that in rare moments of free time she loves traveling, hiking, kayaking (anything outdoorsy really), and having random adventures. See more from Janeen at her blog

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