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The Most Embarrassing Travel Gear

Step aside, fanny pack. Halloween is still more than a week away, but scads of publications are already coming out with holiday travel gift guides featuring the latest inventions in the travel world (stay tuned for the far superior IndependentTraveler.com holiday gift guide — to be published soon).

I’ve taken a look at what’s on offer this year, and it seems to me that some of these companies may be running out of ideas. While there’s no shortage of novelty among the gadgets and gizmos for sale this season, there are a few things that, quite frankly, I’m going to leave off my Christmas list. Like the infamous fanny pack or sandals with socks, these products get the job done — but only if you’re willing to sacrifice a little dignity.

Tugo
The Tugo is a cupholder that rests between the handles of your upright rolling luggage. For a mere $9.95 (or $12.95 for the deluxe version), your previously restrained drink-holding hand can swing freely in the breeze, slap the airport security guy high-five and leaf through trashy magazines in the terminal book store.

PlaneSheets
PlaneSheets are said to “keep germs at bay” while bringing color and style to your drab airplane seat. The sheets come in washable ($24.99 – $29.99) and disposable ($14.99) varieties, with colors like black toile, leopard print, zebra and camouflage. Those of us who traditionally opt not to advertise that we’re obsessive germaphobes can now come out of our closets and show the world that our inflated fears of filthy public spaces can, in fact, be fashionable!

Snazzy Napper
Teragram Solutions, Inc. is bringing burka-inspired sleepwear to a plane near you. The Snazzy Napper is a lightweight sleep blanket with a face-covering eye mask atop its billowing folds. A clever nose hole keeps travelers alive and breathing as they slip into an identity-free dreamland. This product is perfect for fugitive travelers and passengers not interested in friendly chats with seatmates.

SkyRest
I’ll admit it — this looks comfortable. Still, I gather that travelers passed out on the trashcan-shaped SkyRest might garner curious stares from fellow fliers, which may make the experience, well, less comfortable. This thing brings to mind so many questions. If you’re not sitting in a window seat, wouldn’t this pillow block your seatmates’ access to the bathroom? And wouldn’t a large inflatable beach ball work just as well?

XShot
The XShot is a pole that you attach to your camera so that you can snap thousands of pictures of yourself without having to balance your equipment on the cruise ship balcony or rely on the dubious photography skills of buskers. It’s not a terrible idea — this thing is great for the “Look at me!” Facebook generation. Just be careful, as dangling your $300 Canon in the air three feet in front of you screams “Free camera!” to thieves bold enough to snatch and run.

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