I thought I was pretty savvy about the dangers lurking in hotel rooms; my bedbug checks are second to none, and I can chain a suitcase to a radiator in ten seconds flat. But then I ran across the Hotel Inspector and realized I had a lot to learn. It seems that today’s selfless manufacturers are working hard to develop a host of oddball products that skillfully separate travelers from their money.
The Hotel Inspector is an ultraviolet flashlight that enables you to see invisible substances lurking in your hotel room, including blood, urine, saliva, and semen. Yikes! For years I’ve worked diligently to ignore the suspicion that my hotel room was crawling with these foul residues. Once the UV beam reveals their revolting presence, what am I supposed to do about it? Ask housekeeping to send up a hazmat team?
Those of you who enjoy stealing hotel hangers but hate the "theft-proof" models will be delighted to hear you can now purchase special adapters that let you convert hookless hangers for home use. ConvertAHanger claims their product is designed to let you move the hangers to the hotel room's bathroom to steam wrinkled clothes and dry laundry. Right. (Wink!) Just don’t forget to register under a fake name, remove all your fingerprints from the hotel room, and go to confession afterward.
“Neither a pillow nor a cushion,” says the Ostrich Pillow website, “nor a bed nor a garment, but a bit of each at the same time.” They note this contraption is perfect for power napping in airports and offices. Yes, I can see it would effectively frighten your fellow passengers into leaving you alone, but do you really want your boss seeing you snoozing at your desk looking like you belong on the set of Plan 9 From Outer Space?
With all my other complaints about air travel, I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me that what was really lacking was an opportunity for self-expression. Luckily PlaneSheets invented these stylish slipcovers. Wouldn’t it be more fun to fly into a war zone sitting on the Chenille Minky Green Camouflage print? How about his and hers Zany Zebra covers for that Vegas honeymoon? What about the Candyland Good N Plenty pattern for the kids? And claims that these covers are more hygienic can be verified with your handy Hotel Inspector.
A friend leaving on her honeymoon was given a packet Urinelle paper funnels, designed to let women urinate while standing up. When she got home, she handed me the packet with only one missing. “You try it,” she said. “Maybe you’ll have better luck.” A month later, I found myself standing in a swaying railway toilet in Thailand trying to hold the paper cone in place while avoiding all contact with the grimy surfaces. The results? Unspeakable disaster. Unlike the woman in the Urinelle video, I have absolutely decided not to take this product into the men’s room and stand shoulder to shoulder with the guys at the urinals. You have my word on it.
All of the above products are real, but I’ll leave you with two more that have become Internet legends. Extensive research (well, ten minutes on Google) reveals that sadly, neither of these products is available for purchase. I can’t imagine why.
Investing in frivolous accessories can be fun, and if you’re tempted to try one of these – or other screwball products – don’t let me stop you. In fact, send me photos and details of your best/worst travel gizmo experiences!
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I'm an American travel writer based in Seville, Spain and my home state of California. Right now I'm on a Nutters' World Tour seeking eccentric people, quirky places, and wacky food so I can have the fun of writing about them here.
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Winner of the 2023 Firebird Book Award for Travel
#1 Amazon Bestseller in Tourist Destinations, Travel Tips, Gastronomy Essays, and Senior Travel