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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 cupholderTugo
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 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 napperSnazzy 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 airplane air travelSkyRest
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 camera san franciscoXShot
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.

–written by Caroline Costello

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24 Responses to “The Most Embarrassing Travel Gear”

  1. SeaMarmot says:

    These are great, and kudos to the snazzy napper’s inventor (or inventors, probably some sort of drug-induced brainstorm session) for offering easy access to nose picking! The nose tends to get clogged up what with other passengers stuffing it with peanuts.

  2. This is fabulous — and excruciating, simultaneously. I’m happy to say that I’ve seen ’em — but never used ’em.


  3. joanne says:

    hey, I love the sheets….pretty cool and yes, I am a germaphobe….there are lots of us.
    I would buy those.

  4. Susan, South Jersey says:

    And who said the PlaneSheet was a bad idea?? I like it! I would hope it would come in more innocuous colors……….

  5. Dillon says:

    The X-Shot looks cool. Well, except for the part where you ask “how do you aim the camera? Oh, and how do you actually take the durned picture?”

    The Plane Sheets and the Snazzy Napper look like a perfect couple. Or the folks who sell the Plane Sheets should team up with the people selling those sleeping bags for hotel rooms!

  6. TravelFashionPolice says:

    Neck pillows, sleep masks, ear plugs – and now this? Do travelers have no shame?

  7. Carol says:

    I bought a Skyrest blow-up wedge before my last overnight trans-Atlantic flight and it worked well. I have trouble sleeping sitting upright, but have been able to do so resting my head on my folded arms on the tray table –but ended up with a terrific crick in the back. When I saw the Skyrest pillow it seemed like the ideal solution — and it works. As for blocking a row-mate’s ability to exit the row — HUH? Get real… No airliner (at least in coach class where I fly) allows enough knee space for someone to pass in front of you without your standing up and moving into the aisle. As for “embarrassment” — I’m past the age of caring what other people think, and in a darkened cabin on an overnight flight no one’s paying attention anyway.

  8. Suzanne says:

    WOW…….nuff said!!

  9. Barbara Ovittore says:

    Cool stuff..Anything to make a flight more comfortable is a good thing. Someone is making money! Huh?

  10. Lolita18 says:

    Where’s the fanny pack brigades????

  11. Ibeth says:

    The snazzy napper looks like it could have multiple uses like for upcoming Halloween you can put this on the kid. At least you know the kid can breathe through it!

  12. BJ says:

    Why buy a seat sheet when you can use the free blanket given to you on the plane. I then use my own shawl to cover me when I nap.

  13. RichardNika says:

    Anything to make travel more comfortable; I couldn’t care less about what anyone else thinks. I like the sleep rest thing. As for flying, I like earplugs, eye mask, my ipod. My wife likes those little inflatable headrests. As for my xanax prescription, I don’t leave home without it!

  14. LoToGoTo says:

    Love the snazzy napper – probably smells better than the plane’s blanket, which I put over my head on those lonnnnnnnnnggg international flights. Also helps when the crew decides it’s time for a snack and blasts everyone with cabin lights.

  15. Louise says:

    I bought the Sky Rest, and it worked perfectly—for one flight, after which it sprang a leak. It actually worked well in FC where the windows are too far from the seats to provide safe support. However, the inflatable part was very shoddily seamed and there was no way to repair a split seam. I plan to get a beach ball to replace this piece, and I actually think the thing will work not only on planes but also as a leg rest in hotels which do not provide enough pillows to relieve an aching back. However, shame on Magellans for selling such a shoddy and poorly tested piece at a greatly inflated price.

    Who above doesn’t know that practically no airline provides blankets or pillows now? I’m thinking about packing a survival blanket (flat plastic kind) for situations when that exit row window is intolerably cold. FA’s don’t like it when I plaster my newspapers all over the wall and hook them in the window for self preservation… Actually a bunch of little flat packets with an inflatable pillow, survival blanket and hand wipes for filthy tray tables might be a saleable item for some enterprising traveler to bring aboard.

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the charcoal filled underpants for those wishing to spare their seatmates…

  16. jen says:

    It’s a shame the SkyRest is just in one plain color. Otherwise you could have a set of the most horrificly clashing air travel accessories ever!

  17. At first I laughed … but then I realised these are all great inventions/ideas! Especially love the XShot which not only lets solo travellers put themselves in the picture but it takes away the gigantic arm sydrome that self shots always have. (we all know what I’m talking about, right) Loved the post!

  18. Pam says:

    You wouldn’t be so quick to mock the airline seat sheet if you read the recent Terminex report of bedbugs hijacking a ride on airline seats. Too disgusting!
    I put comfort before pride on long flights. I have a survival kit in a large Ziploc bag: 1)warm, lightweight blanket, 2)inflatable neck pillow, 3)sound reducing earplugs, 4)sleep mask. I leave my purse in the cloth bag that held my survival kit, slide one foot through the handles and use it as a footrest. My purse and survival kit in the cloth bag make up my personal carry on and I remove things as needed. I look like a dork but I am well rested. I leave the survival kit in the plastic bag until my return trip and then keep them sealed for several days when I get home so bedbugs, etc. die from lack of air or food sources.

  19. rally to restore sanity attendance says:

    I second that!!! I’ve seen foldable footrests – but hadn’t thought about an inflatable one!!!

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