7 of the most ridiculous travel gadgets

Posted on 12 July 2013

No matter how much we may love traveling, we all admit that it can have its downsides. Without the space and resources of home, you are restricted to relying on whatever you can fit in your backpack / suitcase / car boot to keep you comfortable and entertained. Luckily, there are creative geniuses out there putting their hearts and souls into coming up with travel gadgets and accessories to keep things convenient and comfortable while you’re on the road or in the air. Last year, we showed you 25 of the coolest travel gadgets of 2012 to add to your christmas wish-list. Since it’s not yet time for compiling serious wish-lists, we thought we would give you a list of seven slightly more ridiculous gadgets, which must have ‘seemed like a good idea at the time.’

Tugo cup holder

Image from Tugo

The Tugo cup holder (to-go, get it?) which attaches to the handle of your suitcase while you tug it in a hurry through the airport may hold a certain novelty, but how useful will it really be? It seems that any time you might need a coffee on-the-go while traveling, is also a time that you might imminently need to raise or lower the handle of your suitcase without the hassle of attaching/detaching the cup holder. Stashing your carry-on bag in the over-head compartment with hundreds of people trying to board the plane behind you can be awkward enough without having to pause to deal with your beverage holder. At the price of R120+ you would probably end up feeling obliged to take it out and use it, rather than the easier option of freeing up your other hand to carry you drink.

Still want one? Here’s where to get it:

Order the Tugo cup holder online at Tugo

Ostrich Pillow

Image from Ostrich Pillow on Kickstarter

This cushioned-hood Ostrich Pillow purports to offer ‘a micro environment in which to take a warm and comfortable power nap at ease’. Perhaps this could be viable for those who are lucky enough to have developed immunity to feeling self-conscious. Those of us who have an aversion to looking ridiculous, however, would probably feel anything but ‘at-ease’ in this piece of head-gear. I can picture myself feeling the stares of strangers directed toward me, even through the cushy, warm padding of this pumpkin-top. At more than R1000, this is the most expensive way to look silly since Crocs.

Still want one? Here’s where to get it:

Get the Ostrich Pillow online for R1 000 here

Minimate AS150MM Ionic Personal Air Purifier

Image from LJ Enterprises

One of the common concerns in relation to flying is the health-risk involved in sitting in a confined space, sharing recycled air with fellow passengers. Weighing just 41 grams, the Minimate AS150MM Personal Air Purifier hangs from the neck or clips onto clothing, blowing an electrostatic ion wind through your breathing area, repelling viruses, bacteria, pollen, smoke etc. At just under R1 100 (not including the price of batteries, which should always be factored in) this seems like a very expensive way to gain somewhat excessive protection from health risks similar to those you are likely to face when you get off the plane anyway. Rather than having the constant waft of air from around your neck reminding you how worried you are about getting sick on your holiday, ingest some vitamin C and forget about it.

Still want one? Here’s where to get it:

Get the Minimate AS150MM Personal Air Purifier for R1 100 online here

Plane Sheets

Image from Plane Sheets

This accessory protects you from the threats of sitting in a seat which has had as many sitters as an airplane seat has had. In the same category of excessively paranoid personalised hygiene as the personal air purifier, the Plane Sheet gives an extra layer between your bottom and back, and the supposedly horrendous germs and food stuffs left behind by other travellers. Starting at R150 for the disposable variety, and R250 for the washable, you could opt instead for saving the money and buying a new pair of jeans in the very unlikely event that yours are irreparably damaged (or contaminated) by your dirty airplane seat.

Still want one? Here’s where to get it:

Get your disposable plane sheet for R150 online here or go for the washable plane sheet for R250 online here


Image from Re-Timer

This product offers a helping hand in overcoming the problem of jet lag. The Re-Timer works by mimicking the green wavelength of the sun’s light which is your body’s natural cue to adjust its sleep / wake patterns. You use the glasses-like contraption to shine light of this wavelength (100% UV free) onto your eyes, according to a set pre-departure schedule. The website for the device offers a jet lag-adjustment schedule calculator, which is all well and good until you see its recommendations. In order to prepare for a hypothetical trip to Vancouver, one would need to be shining green-wavelength light onto one’s eyes between 00h00 and 00h50 the night before getting up to undertake the mammoth trip, not to mention the 50 minutes from 11h00 the night before that, and from 10h00 the night before that. For the R2 500 you would spend on one of these, rather get three nights of good sleep to build energy reserves before you leave, and book a couple of extra nights in a hotel on the other end to allow your body clock time to adjust naturally.

Still want one? Here’s where to get it:

Order the Re-Timer from its Australian makers online here

Self-stirring mug

Image from absoluteconceptz.com

This seems like the typical stainless steel, insulated travel mug for keeping your drink hot and spill-free while on the move. However, with the push of a button on the handle this mug will stir its contents automatically, eliminating the need for stirrers or spoons. There is some novelty here, but it is difficult to think of a situation in which one would have access to all of the other necessities of making tea / coffee, without having access to something with which to stir it. On top of this, the mug needs two AAA batteries in order to work, and the fewer batteries you need to remember to buy and pack, the better.

Still want one? Here’s where to get it:

Like so many things in life, the self-stirring mug is available online at amazon here

Digital Braai Tongs

Central to any proper South African holiday is a good braai. These tongs have a heat sensor which measures the internal heat of your meat, and sounds an alarm when the meat is done, according to seven pre-set meat types  (also allowing for one custom setting). The problem with this is that your meat is cooked by a thermometer, which probably has less of an idea of how you like your steak than you do. It also takes the fun out of standing around the fire and deciding (through whatever cut-open / taste test you decide upon) when everything is ready. It might be possible to adjust the custom setting perfectly through trial and error, but this gadget would receive unanimous frowns from the braai-time puritans among us.

Still want one? Here’s where to get it:

Order the Digital Braai tongs online at Amazon here

Ed’s note

I find myself thinking about the future of travel quite often these days. Maybe it’s inexorable acceleration with which technology is progressing or the notion that space travel might soon become a reality. Either way, I agree that there are some travel gadgets out there that are just plain ridiculous I recently published an article stating that I think they could end up turning us into a new species of travel entirely (The future of travel looks exciting, and stupid). Check it out and share your thoughts on the matter.

Alternatively, if you’re a bit of a gear nut, head on over to gear.getaway.co.za where we test some of the latest products (so you don’t have to).

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