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toy tour I just got a postcard from my Justin Beiber doll. He’s on vacation, you see, sightseeing in Paris. When he returns, he’ll bring me a souvenir and we’ll laugh together as we look through his vacation photos.

Sounds awesome, right? Well, guess what. You too can send your childhood playthings on fun adventures around the world.

Some out-of-the-ordinary travel companies have popped up in the past few years, offering vacations for teddy bears, toys, Tickle Me Elmo — you name it. These companies sell tour packages exclusively for inanimate objects, which get photographed in exotic places in the grand tradition of Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome. No humans are allowed to come along (except for, of course, whomever it is you’re paying to cart Teddy around the streets of Europe).

Here’s how it works: You mail a toy to the company. Your toy is photographed hamming for the camera in front of the Louvre or receiving a relaxing massage in Prague. Finally, your toy returns to you with the photographic evidence and whatever perks come with the package you’ve selected (some packages include things like souvenirs, daily e-mail updates or travel certificates).

No, I’m not making this up. Here’s a sample of companies offering vacations for toys:

Furry Toy Tours is a French company that sells seven-day Parisian vacations for lifeless objects, starting at 100 euros. Customers seeking an upgrade can select from various extension packages based on their toy’s alleged interests, ranging from a Dan Brown Da Vinci Code tour to an exploration of the Parisian contemporary art scene, for an extra 50 euros.

ToyTraveling, based in Prague, declares on its Web site, “We are tolerant and unbiased. We are happy to welcome all kinds of your toys regardless of their nationality, race, religion, sexual preferences, age or handicaps.” Whew, that’s a relief. I was worried that my gender-ambiguous Raggedy Ann doll, which only has one leg, might face discrimination. ToyTraveling’s Prague tours start at 90 euros, but you can snag extras like a massage and aromatherapy for the Premium Fare of 150 euros.

Teddy Tours Lapland, a Finnish company, offers “teddy bears and other soft toys holiday trips to Finland, Lapland and Rovaniemi.” A standard journey includes a meeting with Santa Claus himself and starts at 90 euros. For those who don’t love any of their current toys enough to buy vacations for them, Teddy Tours Lapland sells Moomins — popular Scandinavian troll/hippo creatures — in desperate need of a holiday.

So far, this appears to be a European trend. But I bet it won’t be long before some guy in Arizona sets up a Web site and starts selling toy tours of the American West. After all, these tours are easy money. Dolls don’t require food, plumbing, polite customer service or comfortable transportation. Just snap a photo of someone’s Beanie Baby in front of a cactus and you’ll be raking it in.

What’s your take on this? Are tours for toys the genius byproduct of capitalist innovation, or is this a wasteful scam for immature adults with money to burn?

–written by Caroline Costello

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7 Responses to “Tickle Me Elmo’s European Vacation”

  1. soliteyah says:

    Are you kidding me? Why would I waste my hard-earned travel dollars sending some stuffed animal on vacation instead of myself!? Call me selfish, but…

  2. SeaMarmot says:

    Redbutt monkey really needs his own resort complex, separate from the other stuffed creatures. He attends to attack other species.

  3. jc says:

    I wonder if it’s a take on the “travelling gnome”, like in the movie Amelie, or in the Travelocity commercials. Either way.. if that’s the best thing people can think of to spend their money on, they may as well send some my way. I’m sure I could put it to better use.

  4. ken kugler says:

    For years my wife has been bring a little olivia the pig doll with us and photographing her everywhere. She was given to my wife by a very special niece about 5-6 years ago. Ovia has been to Alaske, Italy, florida, gettysburg, Bermuda and more and is soon to go to Iceland.

  5. LSKahn says:

    Totally silly and a waste of money, but, if there’s a market, there’s a market.

  6. joanne says:

    hey, if I had the bucks….maybe would do it…..sounds like a good way to make a lot of
    cash….I am sure we will be seeing signs of this before Christmas…Monkey See, Monkey Do!!!!

  7. Jan says:

    I’m taking my Russian Dolls – Matryoshki with me on Round the World Trip :-)

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