For even the most experienced, traveling can still be stressful, messy, or downright annoying. No matter the vehicle, it's rarely a comfortable process, and then things can go wrong, like baggage getting lost or cars breaking down. It's all worth it, but there are many innovators out there trying to ease the pains of travel with some great ideas and some really ridiculous ones.
The problem with most innovations is they spend time making them practical, which is great, but they completely forget the look of them. No one is going to use things that look ridiculous, even if they work. Some things don't even work, so they can't help us out there. In the end these accessories just turn into one extra thing we have to carry.
Motorized luggage you can ride, or a nano UV wand, anyone? We've compiled a list of new travel gadgets that every savvy traveler needs and some you shouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole.
There is no way to use this ostrich pillow and not look ridiculous. Although it's named after a giant bird that sticks its head in the sand, it looks more like an octopus head. Stick your head in and lay your head down in any direction with a bit of cushion. You can even put your hands in special hand holes that are there for some reason. The Ostrich Pillow site says that their pillows "have been turning heads internationally . . . taking care of utopian dreamers all over the world." They might just be turning heads because people wearing them look very silly.
This chin rest does not look comfortable. It also looks like a cartoon hand is hitting your face, no matter which way you adjust it. If you use this as a portable rest, you have to carry your cartoon hand around with you. Japan Trend Shop, in their listing for the rest, notes that you can use it to "covertly get some sleep . . . while you appear to be looking at your screen." But I'm not sure anything about this large white cartoon hand can be considered covert.
The inconvenient thing about suitcases at the airport is definitely that you can't ride around on them, right? And these things do move pretty fast; pictured above are Kaley Cuoco and Jimmy Kimmel racing MODOBAGS in a skit from "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" and they were zooming. Which seems like you'd have to stop constantly in a crowded airport or run over lots of toes. According to the bag's website, the bag will go 6 miles on a single charge, but really, what's wrong with just walking?
What's more awkward than sitting in silence next to a total stranger for several hours on a plane? Putting a B-Tourist Strip up so that they can't see you but they can still see you. It can also be used as a pillow, which would probably infringe on your neighbor's space, and a storage pocket that the Huffington Post called "tiny," so much less useful than the seat-back pockets in the plane.
Like most other sleeping solutions for airplane travel, this inflatable pillow looks pretty ridiculous. However, it looks like both the most comfortable and the least inconvenient to the people sitting around you. It won't infringe on other people's space, like the B-Tourist. Amazon reviewer Kate warned that it was "most obnoxious inflatable pillow I've ever owned" but also said that " for a stomach sleeper on a 15 hour flight, this thing saved my LIFE!" So there you have it.
If you're wearing one of these and the plane experienced trouble and you have to put on an oxygen mask, do they pose a safety hazard? Is it a problem that they already look like a plane oxygen mask? These are questions that the Humidiflyer website did not answer, though there are a lot of customer testimonials claiming that the masks helped prevent jet lag. It does look quite silly and will get in the way of eating your on-flight snacks.
There are several companies that make nano UV wands, advertised to eliminate a whole host of germs with the power of their blue light. Sounds like a great thing for a germaphobe to use on an airplane seat. Or it would be, if it worked. According to the FTC, in 2015 there were cases brought against two different manufacturers that ordered the companies to stop claiming that their products can eliminate "foot fungus and dangerous bacteria like MRSA, E. coli, and Salmonella." Which doesn't provide in any other nano UV wands, does it?
This one just seems excessive, especially inflatable footrests like this one made by Mobilyos that are more like ottomans than footrests. This inflatable piece of furniture seems like a surefire way to annoy your neighbor, because someone is going to have to climb over this or get bonked by it when it is moved out of the way. You might be able to get away with one of these in first class, but then you may not even need it.
Anyone who has packed bras in a suitcase, especially the stiffer ones with padding or underwire, knows that it can be a bit of a pain. Just like packing up all of your makeup odds and ends in one condensed case, why not do the same for your bras? The Brag Company, who has patented the product, say that you can fit up to 6 bras in one bag, in bags of different sizes. This can help keep your bras in the right shape they are supposed to be in, but also help make sure that you always know where they are.
Google Glass didn't take off, but Snapchat is trying to get their own version of app glasses to work – they are their second version, so someone must be buying them. According to Business Insider, V2 has much improved in design and functionality, but still "don't solve the fundamental problems with wearing cameras on your face." Snapchat also didn't develop a separate app for the "Spectacles," so you can't do anything with your snaps until they've loaded to your phone, according to Business Insider. In which case, why not just use the phone?
No part of this seems like a good idea. Sure, luggage can be a real hassle, especially when you have to shove it into an overhead bin or under the seat in front of you. But that sounds a whole lot better than sitting on your stuff for several hours in a plane while looking like a potato. And while Jaktogo describes these pieces as "stylish," I don't think anyone is fooled that these aren't regular clothes.
At first, this seems like a great idea, but let's take a moment to puzzle this one out. Because how often do you actually have the handle of your suitcase up? If you take a bus or a car to the airport, you have to close it to get it into the vehicle. Assuming you're not checking a bag, you have the handle open to wheel your bag to security. If you had a coffee at that point, you'd have to throw it out. You get through security and you most likely walk to your gate and sit, at which point, you can drink your coffee. Plus, that thing looks like it would spill very quickly and would keep you from being able to close your handle completely. So that's a no from us.
Sounds like a good way to lose your ID or drench your dollars when you forget and walk through a puddle. Also, I can't think of a way to gracefully extract money from the flip-flops should you need to pay for something. And, while I would posit that flip-flips are never stylish, these ones are particularly bad and destined for the back of the closet. What is wrong with just keeping things in pockets? The only useful thing we have seen added to a flip flop was a bottle opener, now that would come in handy!
Someone out there must find this comfortable, but a strap across my eyes or neck wouldn't help me sleep. According to the Huffington Post, Sky Mall awarded this contraption an Innovation Award, but Sky Mall has been known to sell giant fake rocks, life-size hanging monkey statues, and a "bed bug thwarting sleeping cocoon," so perhaps we should take their judgement with a grain of salt. Maybe just stick with a regular eye mask like everyone else.
Everyone travels for different reasons, but those reasons often include rest and relaxation. Saunas are a great way to relax, but this portable sauna doesn't seem to fit the bill. Several companies make portable infrared saunas but many (according to the YouTube reviews that I watched) do not fold up small enough to be conveniently portable or to fit into a suitcase. Also, like many of the items on this list, using the infrared portable sauna with make you look utterly ridiculous. And, according to an article in The Atlantic, any claims that infrared saunas make to help you "detox" are not founded in any real science. So just go to a real sauna.
This innovation in hiding from fellow plane passengers is something else. It's an impressive knitting achievement, that is for sure. And no one can spy on what you're doing on your laptop; but at what price? This particular compubody sock looks like an odd amalgamation of Tigger and a Death Eater. This sock would make it particularly tough to enjoy your on-flight snacks, because people will see and judge you when you come out of your little hidey-hole. Maybe just wait to do embarrassing things on your laptop until you get off the plane and leave this silly sock at home.
Bidets themselves aren't gross, but there's definitely an icky factor to carrying around a portable, DIY bidet in a bag. This design also seems like it could create a lot of mess for you (or the person after you) to deal with. We can definitely see why it is being marketed as being somewhat hygienic, but we feel like anything that should be in the bathroom should just stay, in the bathroom, where it's supposed to be.
One of the biggest problems with space-saving or travel-convenient clothes options is that they usually range from not stylish to downright ridiculous looking. The nicest thing about this infinity scarf with a hidden compartment is that no one will look at you funny for wearing it: it's just a normal-looking scarf. Half the appeal, is of course, how inconspicuous it is, you wouldn't know looking at it that it contained all of your personal belongings. I wouldn't recommend putting my whole wallet there, it might be a bit suspicious when it starts jiggling, but definitely your passport and ticket would be a good start.
If you're a camper, this Bug Bivy could be a lifesaver. Because being a chew toy for mosquitoes while you're trying to sleep is no fun. Provided it will fit in your tent, it could be used as another layer of protection against insidious flying creatures. You might even be tempted to hop inside your bivy in a particularly buggy hotel room. (Or maybe find a new hotel). Either way, Mountain Laurel Designs (which makes the bug bivy) describes this as a super light bug protection with great ventilation.
If you're on a business trip or have to travel for a wedding, this mini steam iron is your best friend. Keeping clothes wrinkle-free in a suitcase can be tricky, despite the best preparations, and these days not all hotels even provide them. We also don't always stay in hotels when we're traveling, so the no frills traveler can use this and still look immaculate. The Vornado Mini Travel Steam Iron pictured above comes highly reviewed by customers on Amazon and Wayfair, and is a travel must.
Giving a child a motorized suitcase in a crowded airport is asking for trouble, but having a suitcase with a seat for a child to ride on isn't. Little feet move slow, but sometimes the airport is just a time crunch, and they get tired a bit quicker than we do (albeit for some reason, never at the same time). Here, the problem is solved; just watch out for adults who may want to hitch a ride.
If you want to drink something other than coffee or a soda on a plane, your other options become pretty pricey. And there aren't many choices in the way of mixers. Uncommon Goods has that second problem solved for you, with pocket-sized kits of all the fixings for a variety of drinks. Just add the appropriate complimentary beverage and you're all set for cocktail hour!
For anyone who can't live without the Internet and various other connections to the World Wide Web, this combo power bank and portable wifi hub is a must, especially for international travel. How often have you had to unplug on a trip because you can't get service, especially when that is exactly when you want most to be connected to share all of your adventures? This product, made by Skyroam, is pay-as-you-go and works in most international locations.
It's a bag that you can use as a washing machine. A manual one, but it's a great solution in a pinch. This system would be great for camping or just doing a load of underwear in a hotel room. It can double as a dirty clothes bag, and it folds up nice and small when you're not using it. We always tend to bring one of our 100 bags (shoved into another bag), but sometimes we make the wrong choice, and we bring the one bag with a hole in it, or just not as sturdy as we need it to be. This bag has neither of those problems!
This pocket-sized blanket is there for all your emergency beach or picnic blanket needs. Cheese, sausage, and street food are some of the best ways to experience a new city or culture's food, according to Atlas Obscura, so having this convenient blanket around means you'll always have a place to enjoy them. Or to enjoy the beach or the woods while camping.
Sources: atlasobscura; businessinsider; huffingtonpost