World's Weirdest Travel Gadgets

  • metal-detecting sandals

    Photo: Courtesy of Hammacher Schlemmer

    1 of 21

    Metal-detecting sandals, self-propelled suitcases, and bacteria-disinfecting wands are just a few of the quirky products available to the discerning traveler.

    From June 2013 By ,

    Imagine you’re strolling down the crowded streets of a beautiful, if sometimes unsafe, foreign city famous for its pickpockets. You’re enjoying the scenery but you have an uneasy feeling because you are, quite literally, a walking target. But what if there was a way to keep your wallet and passport on your person and safe from sticky fingers? Well, there is. The Doberman Mini Mobile Alert pickpocket alarm sounds off at a startling 95 decibels the moment a thief grabs the goods.

    These days, it seems there’s a quirky product for every type of traveler: the germaphobe, the security freak, the easily bored, and many, many more. “Odd gadgets have always been with us,” says Carol Mangis, senior editor at techie PCMag.com. “But since consumer electronics of all sorts are booming, manufacturers work at standing outside the norm just to grab a piece of the attention.”

    New York City–based Hammacher Schlemmer has been selling quirky products to the American public since 1848, and many that were initially perceived as wacko are now commonplace (the pop-up toaster, steam iron, and microwave oven, to name a few). And with approximately 20 million copies of SkyMall catalogue tucked into seat pockets on 32 airlines and Amtrak trains, it’s clear that people are not only perusing the countless odd gadgets, tools, and contraptions that fill its pages but purchasing them too.

    In fact, the catalogue is so popular it’s developed a cultlike following by passengers who read it more for entertainment than for retail therapy. There’s even a send-up spoof of the publication; Kasper Hauser’s SkyMaul features such hilarious and ludicrous products as a Llamacycle and Pepper Self-Spray.

    So what are some of the weirdest real travel gadgets and gizmos on the market today? Try metal-detecting sandals—the perfect gift for treasure-hunting beachcombers. They may or may not be a guaranteed hit for visitors to, say, the sugary sand beaches of the Caribbean, but they would potentially alert the wearer to any razor blades underfoot.

    And why lug your bag when you can take advantage of the Glyde Gear Backpack: just lower the foot platform and use it as a scooter to race through the terminals. (Please note: helmet not included.)

    It’s possible that many of these items will one day be as widespread as the once-oddball toaster, but we wouldn’t bet on it.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: UpRight Sleeper

    Photo: Courtesy SkyMall

    2 of 21

    The UpRight Sleeper

    It may look like a choking device, but this ferocious contraption isn’t aimed at spinal injury patients. It’s actually intended to keep your head steady when you doze off. Uprightsleeper.com; $39.99.

    —Brooke Porter

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Glyde Gear Backpack

    Photo: Kyle Reeves

    3 of 21

    Glyde Gear Backpack

    Not content to carry or pull your bag? You can lower the foot platform and use this bag as a scooter to race through the terminals. Please note: helmet not included. Amazon.com; $74.99.

    —Brooke Porter

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: USB Air-Conditioned Shirt

    Photo: Courtesy of Kuchofuku

    4 of 21

    USB Air-Conditioned Shirt

    Plug this shirt into a laptop and built-in fans whir into action—perfect for stuffy airport gates. If you’re far from a socket, don’t worry: it takes four AA batteries as backup too. Kuchofuku-products.com; price on request.

    —Brooke Porter

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Tugo Cup

    Photo: Courtesy Tugo

    5 of 21

    Tugo Cup

    This hammock is strung between the upright handles of your rolling luggage as a more convenient way to transport a cup of coffee (it keeps an extra hand free). But perhaps the emergency room nurse who invented it should have considered the risks of scalding as the coffee sloshes around. Goodtugo.com; $12.95.

    —Mark Ellwood

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: EZ Sleep Travel Pillow

    Photo: Courtesy EZ Sleep Travel

    6 of 21

    EZ Sleep Travel Pillow

    The only pillow that doubles as an impolite gesture. Prop one of these unwieldy cushions to the side of your airplane seat and it won’t just offer you a softer headrest—it will entirely block off your seatmate. Ezsleeptravel.com; $25.

    —Mark Ellwood

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Urinelle

    Photo: Courtesy of Magellans.com

    7 of 21

    Urinelle

    The idea of disposable, biodegradable cones that allow ladies to urinate standing up—say, over a squat toilet while traveling abroad—might make you cringe. The testimonial raves, though, reveal a delighted fan base and a need that’s been filled. Magellans.com; $9.50 for a seven-pack.

    —Mark Ellwood

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: HumidiFlyer

    Photo: Courtesy Humidiflyer

    8 of 21

    HumidiFlyer

    Strap on this contraption to keep breathing moist air throughout a flight: the flight attendant inventor claims this will reduce sinus and breathing problems, even jet lag, if used long enough. But how can you brave the gawking from fellow passengers long enough to find out? Humidiflyer.com; $65.

    —Mark Ellwood

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: BeltzBib

    Photo: Ken Lloyd

    9 of 21

    BeltzBib

    No need to worry anymore about spills and upsets from a drive-through meal. Fasten this bib to your seat belt, and the huge pouch will catch any drips, crumbs, and fries. Come to think of it, though, if you can’t eat in the car without this kind of baby-style invention, you should probably just pull over. Dans-products.com; $13.95.

    —Mark Ellwood

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Stash Card

    Photo: Courtesy Wireless Garden

    10 of 21

    Stash Card

    This tiny, fiddly card slides into that empty PCMCIA slot in your laptop and turns it into a hidden safe. There’s only one problem: hiding valuables inside a valuable? It seems somewhat, well, counterproductive. Stashcard.com; $9.95.

    —Mark Ellwood

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Toothpaste Tablets

    Photo: Courtesy SkyMall

    11 of 21

    Toothpaste Tablets

    Pop one of these chewable tablets into your mouth before brushing—handy substitutes, the makers claim, for tubes that exceed the one-ounce on-board limit. Then again, you could just buy a travel-size tube of your regular brand at any drugstore. Skymall.com; $12.50 for 120 tablets.

    —Mark Ellwood

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Sanicare Travel Bidet

    Photo: Courtesy of Sanicare

    12 of 21

    Travel Bidet

    Allegedly invented by French furniture designers in the 1600s, the bidet (that post–powder room cleanser beloved by Europeans) has been updated for the squeaky-clean set. Sanicare’s pocket-size travel version is battery operated and comes with its own travel pouch. As one reviewer noted on SkyMall’s website: “I was nervous at first, but after a few squirts, I couldn’t stop gushing.” Eeeew. Sanicare.com; $39.95.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: metal-detecting sandals

    Photo: Courtesy of Hammacher Schlemmer

    13 of 21

    Metal-Detecting Sandals

    Ever wonder what lies just below the surface at the beach? Tin cans, discarded razor wire, or—better yet—buried pirate treasure? Hammacher Schlemmer’s smart sandals use “beat frequency oscillation technology” to signal when a metallic object is underfoot. The downside: they detect a mere two feet underground—and you have to strap the battery pack to your calf (good luck explaining that tan line at the hotel pool). Ebay.com; $59.95.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: TouchscreenCell Phone Watch

    Photo: Courtesy of Hammacher Schlemmer

    14 of 21

    TouchscreenCell Phone Watch

    If you’ve ever fantasized about living life like 1980s animated hero Inspector Gadget, this chatterbox gizmo is for you. Because it operates on the same tri-band network as run-of-the-mill phones, you can use it just about anywhere on earth with your home-base provider. To avoid stares, we recommend talking into your wrist in the privacy of your hotel suite. Ebay.com; $42.99.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Doberman Mini Mobile Alert

    Photo: Courtesy of Doberman Security

    15 of 21

    Pickpocket Alarm

    The sly pickpockets of the world have met their match: Doberman Security’s tiny watchdog holds cell phones and wallets securely in place. Thanks to the pull pin trigger, if anyone tries to lift them from your pocket, they—and you and even the auditory-impaired people around you—will hear a 95-decibel alarm (louder than the average lawnmower). Amazon.com; $0.98.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Banana Protector

    Photo: Courtesy of Lazybone

    16 of 21

    Banana Protector

    Anyone who’s ever experienced squished banana syndrome firsthand will recognize that this British-designed product (a plastic case formed in the shape of the fruit) is not just weird, it’s useful. Since low potassium levels can lead to traveler’s fatigue, we suggest you pop a banana (or plantain—they’re equally tasty) in your bag before you hit the road. Lazyboneuk.com; $6.22.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Movie-Screen Eyeglasses

    Photo: Courtesy of Vuzix

    17 of 21

    Movie-Screen Eyeglasses

    Plug your iPod into these eyeglasses, sit back, and you’ll feel like you’re in a movie theater. A tiny, rechargeable built-in lithium ion battery provides up to five hours of continuous use (perfect for domestic cross-country flights). According to the company’s own marketing materials, this streamlined number transforms you from geek to chic: “Now you can look fashionable while enjoying the big-screen movie experience.” Look for them in this month’s Vogue (or not). Amazon.com; $294.99.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Nano UV Disinfection Scanner

    Photo: Courtesy of Sky Mall

    18 of 21

    Disinfection Scanner

    This anti-germ gadget works like a magic wand for the hygiene-obsessed. Simply turn it on, hold it over sleeping areas of your guest-room bed for 10 seconds, then breathe a sigh of relief: you’ve just killed 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses (the lab-tested nano-UV light annihilates everything from dust mites to E.coli). Skymall.com; $59.99.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: The Only Complete Swiss Army Knife

    Photo: Courtesy of Hammacher Schlemmer

    19 of 21

    Huge Swiss Army Knife

    Perhaps the handiest handheld device on the planet, the Wenger company’s grandest export has 87 (!) tools—including six razor-sharp blades, a fish scaler, a screwdriver, even a shotgun choke tube—in its 8.75-inch size. The gadget performs 141 functions in total, making it the only tool you’ll need on any camping trip. Amazon.com; $1,379.82.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans
  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: SureFit Transit Cover

    Photo: Courtesy of Sure Fit

    20 of 21

    Personal Seat Protector

    Introduced by a company that specializes in slipcovers (for everything from wing chairs to your shedding dog’s favorite couch), this handy item protects you from your fellow travelers’ dirt and grime. It’s made of a machine-washable polyester-Spandex blend and comes with its own handy carrying case. Surefit.net; $3.50.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

  •  

    21 of 21

  • metal-detecting sandals

    Imagine you’re strolling down the crowded streets of a beautiful, if sometimes unsafe, foreign city famous for its pickpockets. You’re enjoying the scenery but you have an uneasy feeling because you are, quite literally, a walking target. But what if there was a way to keep your wallet and passport on your person and safe from sticky fingers? Well, there is. The Doberman Mini Mobile Alert pickpocket alarm sounds off at a startling 95 decibels the moment a thief grabs the goods.

    These days, it seems there’s a quirky product for every type of traveler: the germaphobe, the security freak, the easily bored, and many, many more. “Odd gadgets have always been with us,” says Carol Mangis, senior editor at techie PCMag.com. “But since consumer electronics of all sorts are booming, manufacturers work at standing outside the norm just to grab a piece of the attention.”

    New York City–based Hammacher Schlemmer has been selling quirky products to the American public since 1848, and many that were initially perceived as wacko are now commonplace (the pop-up toaster, steam iron, and microwave oven, to name a few). And with approximately 20 million copies of SkyMall catalogue tucked into seat pockets on 32 airlines and Amtrak trains, it’s clear that people are not only perusing the countless odd gadgets, tools, and contraptions that fill its pages but purchasing them too.

    In fact, the catalogue is so popular it’s developed a cultlike following by passengers who read it more for entertainment than for retail therapy. There’s even a send-up spoof of the publication; Kasper Hauser’s SkyMaul features such hilarious and ludicrous products as a Llamacycle and Pepper Self-Spray.

    So what are some of the weirdest real travel gadgets and gizmos on the market today? Try metal-detecting sandals—the perfect gift for treasure-hunting beachcombers. They may or may not be a guaranteed hit for visitors to, say, the sugary sand beaches of the Caribbean, but they would potentially alert the wearer to any razor blades underfoot.

    And why lug your bag when you can take advantage of the Glyde Gear Backpack: just lower the foot platform and use it as a scooter to race through the terminals. (Please note: helmet not included.)

    It’s possible that many of these items will one day be as widespread as the once-oddball toaster, but we wouldn’t bet on it.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: UpRight Sleeper

    The UpRight Sleeper

    It may look like a choking device, but this ferocious contraption isn’t aimed at spinal injury patients. It’s actually intended to keep your head steady when you doze off. Uprightsleeper.com; $39.99.

    —Brooke Porter

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Glyde Gear Backpack

    Glyde Gear Backpack

    Not content to carry or pull your bag? You can lower the foot platform and use this bag as a scooter to race through the terminals. Please note: helmet not included. Amazon.com; $74.99.

    —Brooke Porter

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: USB Air-Conditioned Shirt

    USB Air-Conditioned Shirt

    Plug this shirt into a laptop and built-in fans whir into action—perfect for stuffy airport gates. If you’re far from a socket, don’t worry: it takes four AA batteries as backup too. Kuchofuku-products.com; price on request.

    —Brooke Porter

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Tugo Cup

    Tugo Cup

    This hammock is strung between the upright handles of your rolling luggage as a more convenient way to transport a cup of coffee (it keeps an extra hand free). But perhaps the emergency room nurse who invented it should have considered the risks of scalding as the coffee sloshes around. Goodtugo.com; $12.95.

    —Mark Ellwood

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: EZ Sleep Travel Pillow

    EZ Sleep Travel Pillow

    The only pillow that doubles as an impolite gesture. Prop one of these unwieldy cushions to the side of your airplane seat and it won’t just offer you a softer headrest—it will entirely block off your seatmate. Ezsleeptravel.com; $25.

    —Mark Ellwood

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Urinelle

    Urinelle

    The idea of disposable, biodegradable cones that allow ladies to urinate standing up—say, over a squat toilet while traveling abroad—might make you cringe. The testimonial raves, though, reveal a delighted fan base and a need that’s been filled. Magellans.com; $9.50 for a seven-pack.

    —Mark Ellwood

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: HumidiFlyer

    HumidiFlyer

    Strap on this contraption to keep breathing moist air throughout a flight: the flight attendant inventor claims this will reduce sinus and breathing problems, even jet lag, if used long enough. But how can you brave the gawking from fellow passengers long enough to find out? Humidiflyer.com; $65.

    —Mark Ellwood

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: BeltzBib

    BeltzBib

    No need to worry anymore about spills and upsets from a drive-through meal. Fasten this bib to your seat belt, and the huge pouch will catch any drips, crumbs, and fries. Come to think of it, though, if you can’t eat in the car without this kind of baby-style invention, you should probably just pull over. Dans-products.com; $13.95.

    —Mark Ellwood

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Stash Card

    Stash Card

    This tiny, fiddly card slides into that empty PCMCIA slot in your laptop and turns it into a hidden safe. There’s only one problem: hiding valuables inside a valuable? It seems somewhat, well, counterproductive. Stashcard.com; $9.95.

    —Mark Ellwood

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Toothpaste Tablets

    Toothpaste Tablets

    Pop one of these chewable tablets into your mouth before brushing—handy substitutes, the makers claim, for tubes that exceed the one-ounce on-board limit. Then again, you could just buy a travel-size tube of your regular brand at any drugstore. Skymall.com; $12.50 for 120 tablets.

    —Mark Ellwood

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Sanicare Travel Bidet

    Travel Bidet

    Allegedly invented by French furniture designers in the 1600s, the bidet (that post–powder room cleanser beloved by Europeans) has been updated for the squeaky-clean set. Sanicare’s pocket-size travel version is battery operated and comes with its own travel pouch. As one reviewer noted on SkyMall’s website: “I was nervous at first, but after a few squirts, I couldn’t stop gushing.” Eeeew. Sanicare.com; $39.95.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: metal-detecting sandals

    Metal-Detecting Sandals

    Ever wonder what lies just below the surface at the beach? Tin cans, discarded razor wire, or—better yet—buried pirate treasure? Hammacher Schlemmer’s smart sandals use “beat frequency oscillation technology” to signal when a metallic object is underfoot. The downside: they detect a mere two feet underground—and you have to strap the battery pack to your calf (good luck explaining that tan line at the hotel pool). Ebay.com; $59.95.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: TouchscreenCell Phone Watch

    TouchscreenCell Phone Watch

    If you’ve ever fantasized about living life like 1980s animated hero Inspector Gadget, this chatterbox gizmo is for you. Because it operates on the same tri-band network as run-of-the-mill phones, you can use it just about anywhere on earth with your home-base provider. To avoid stares, we recommend talking into your wrist in the privacy of your hotel suite. Ebay.com; $42.99.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Doberman Mini Mobile Alert

    Pickpocket Alarm

    The sly pickpockets of the world have met their match: Doberman Security’s tiny watchdog holds cell phones and wallets securely in place. Thanks to the pull pin trigger, if anyone tries to lift them from your pocket, they—and you and even the auditory-impaired people around you—will hear a 95-decibel alarm (louder than the average lawnmower). Amazon.com; $0.98.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Banana Protector

    Banana Protector

    Anyone who’s ever experienced squished banana syndrome firsthand will recognize that this British-designed product (a plastic case formed in the shape of the fruit) is not just weird, it’s useful. Since low potassium levels can lead to traveler’s fatigue, we suggest you pop a banana (or plantain—they’re equally tasty) in your bag before you hit the road. Lazyboneuk.com; $6.22.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Movie-Screen Eyeglasses

    Movie-Screen Eyeglasses

    Plug your iPod into these eyeglasses, sit back, and you’ll feel like you’re in a movie theater. A tiny, rechargeable built-in lithium ion battery provides up to five hours of continuous use (perfect for domestic cross-country flights). According to the company’s own marketing materials, this streamlined number transforms you from geek to chic: “Now you can look fashionable while enjoying the big-screen movie experience.” Look for them in this month’s Vogue (or not). Amazon.com; $294.99.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: Nano UV Disinfection Scanner

    Disinfection Scanner

    This anti-germ gadget works like a magic wand for the hygiene-obsessed. Simply turn it on, hold it over sleeping areas of your guest-room bed for 10 seconds, then breathe a sigh of relief: you’ve just killed 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses (the lab-tested nano-UV light annihilates everything from dust mites to E.coli). Skymall.com; $59.99.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: The Only Complete Swiss Army Knife

    Huge Swiss Army Knife

    Perhaps the handiest handheld device on the planet, the Wenger company’s grandest export has 87 (!) tools—including six razor-sharp blades, a fish scaler, a screwdriver, even a shotgun choke tube—in its 8.75-inch size. The gadget performs 141 functions in total, making it the only tool you’ll need on any camping trip. Amazon.com; $1,379.82.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans
  • Weirdest Travel Gadgets: SureFit Transit Cover

    Personal Seat Protector

    Introduced by a company that specializes in slipcovers (for everything from wing chairs to your shedding dog’s favorite couch), this handy item protects you from your fellow travelers’ dirt and grime. It’s made of a machine-washable polyester-Spandex blend and comes with its own handy carrying case. Surefit.net; $3.50.

    —Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

You Might Also Like