It’s no secret that air travel is uncomfortable. And judging by the sheer volume of travel gear available at the airport, the market knows it, too. Every day brings a new type of travel gadget that promises to make travel better and more comfortable.
Controversial Travel Gadgets
Sometimes these products make a big difference, and sometimes they’re unnecessary, bizarre, or just plain disrespectful. Here are some of the craziest and most controversial travel gadgets available. Are they worth enraging your fellow passengers? You be the judge.
You might have already heard of the famous knee defenders—now banned by many major airlines–which caused quite the stir when they hit the market a few years ago. The small plastic device is designed to be placed on your airline tray table and prevents the person in front of you from reclining. While this did save many long-legged passengers from being squished, it also caused a lot of arguments. The rules of reclining may not be respected by many, but knee defenders seem to cause more problems than they solve.
Armrests are another touchy subject. Seat dividers like Soarigami Portable Armrest Divider make a barrier that will help you claim your armrest. The divider is designed to favor one side and keep a barrier between seats. This product is great for anyone who wants to avoid awkward contact with a stranger’s arm, but that stranger might not appreciate your claim on the armrest. If you care more about having a private space than resting your arm, the best way to avoid confrontation is to offer the accommodating side of the divider to your seatmate and hope they won’t be offended.
Airplane Seat Cover
It might seem excessive, but there are many reasons someone might want to place a protective cover over their airplane seat. Whether you aren’t taking any chances against bedbugs or you’re taking extra precautions when it comes to allergies, a disposable cover can be helpful. If you’re worried what the person behind you might think, know that the cover is designed to prevent obstruction of the seatback entertainment system.
Regardless of whether or not the Face Cradle looks comfortable, there are a lot of features that will likely annoy the people around you. The pillow has to be strapped around your headrest, potentially blocking the entertainment system for the person behind you. This pillow is also pretty huge, which will make it difficult for fellow passengers to slide past you.
In the history of travel accessories, there has never been a more divisive topic than the selfie stick. Great for taking photos of your whole group and cluttering the view for your fellow travelers, they’ve even been banned from some museums and landmarks. Luckily, there are now plenty of innovative new gadgets that will help you take a selfie without the stick.
If you’re looking for the perfect way to let your seatmate know that you don’t want to talk to them (without actually talking to them), the Ostrich Pillow is the perfect travel pillow for you. Blocking off all sound and sight is one way to sleep more comfortably, but you also won’t be very aware of your surroundings. Thankfully, Ostrich Pillow has also released a less extreme version, the Ostrich Pillow Light, that is much less likely to draw attention.
GoGirl is a female urination device for women on the go who also really have to go. It’s designed to make it easier for women to pee while standing up. You might find this useful if you’re camping or traveling in an area with a bad reputation for restroom cleanliness, but you’ll probably want to be discreet about it. GoGirl is reusable, but if cleaning your urination device sounds less than appealing, you can also by these disposable cones from Urinelle that do basically the same thing.
WOWGO Travel Pillow
Even the best neck pillow can’t recreate the comfort of lying in bed, but this ergonomic travel pillow comes pretty close. Designed to be used in the hug position, this pillow gives you a soft place to rest your head and arms while leaning forward. The pillow is inflatable, which makes it practical to pack, but there’s no guarantee how your seatmate will feel while you’re blowing it up. And if you’re not sitting in the window seat, it will be difficult for the person next to you to get up and use the restroom when you’re shuffling around with a pillow this large.
It’s not just the cramped seats that make flying uncomfortable; it’s also the dryness of the cabin air that leaves you feeling groggy and more susceptible to getting sick. Humidiflyer is here to solve that problem, offering a small portable source of humid and health-friendly air. This is great for feeling fresher at the end of your flight, but it might require a little explanation for your fellow passengers when you suddenly don your own personal oxygen mask.
Did you fall in love with bidets during your trip to a foreign country? Well, now you can make sure to have one wherever you go with this travel-sized personal bidet. We won’t judge your commitment to cleanliness, but wish you luck explaining the contraption in your carry-on to airport security.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 7 Embarrassing Travel Gadgets That Actually Work
- 10 Best Inflatable Travel Pillows
- 12 Stylish Jeans So Comfortable You Can Sleep in Them
Jamie Ditaranto is a writer and photographer who is always looking for her next adventure. Follow her on Twitter @jamieditaranto.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.