Dec. 19, 2012 -- intro: Did you know the solution to most travel problems is right at your fingertips every time you fly? Whether it's security hassles, messy snacks, bed bug fears - or the fear of being 'too fat to fly' - SkyMall has the answer.
You know SkyMall: the ubiquitous airline seatback catalog filled with useful gadgets as well as tons of oddball stuff that defies categorizing (Garden Yeti, anyone?). As SkyMall's marketing whizzes like to say, "If SkyMall's audience was a country it would be the third largest in the world!"
SkyMall is also famous for the deathless prose it employs to whip up excitement over everything from garden hose gizmos ("turn your lawn into an effervescent water and light show") to an automatically-lowering toilet seat ("some men have a hard time remembering") or UGG knockoffs for Fido ("stylish solution for keeping paws warm").
SkyMall also has plenty of gift ideas for travelers and I list some of the more unusual ones below. Do they actually do what they're supposed to? I have no idea! But they sure look like fun (and by the way, if you won't be flying anytime soon, you'll find these must-haves on the SkyMall website).
Following are eight gift ideas for that special traveler in your life.
quicklist: 1title: Passenger-of-size travelertext: Insta Slim Compression Shirts (from $24.95 - $229.95). Don one of these ordinary looking t-shirts and, according to the SkyMall description, you will instantly "flatten your stomach, firm up your chest, eliminate love handles!" But will it prevent the 'spill-over effect' among some larger passengers? That's the criteria Southwest uses when it insists you buy a second seat.
Sorry, ladies, but you'll have to stick with Spanx; Insta Slim shirts are for men only. media: 18013815
quicklist: 2title: Paranoid travelertext: Bed Bug Thwarting Sleeping Cocoon ($79.95). Do you stay in "iffy" hotels? Then this is for you: a hooded sleeping sack that will prevent unwanted hitchhikers thanks to "durable polyester threads [that] are impervious to bed bugs' teeth." Next!media: 18013762
quicklist: 3title: Procrastinating travelertext: Gravity-defying Orbit Shoes with Trampoline Sole ($129.95). According the ad copy, these sneakers with springs in the heels are technological marvels ("engineered by the Impact Research Technology Group for Active Walkers") so you can race through the airport and never miss a plane again. Well, they don't quite make that claim, but they do say you'll want to run more.
Bonus: Supposedly the built-in ventilation system means "no more hot, sticky, smelly feet." media:
quicklist: 4title: Messy Travelertext: Napkin Clips ($8.00). A dandy stocking-stuff for the slob in your life, this item consists of a chain with two clips on either end; dangle it around your neck, attach a napkin and you are good to go ("wearable protection!").
Downside: Since the airlines don't serve meals in coach anymore, worrying about spills isn't much of a problem.media: 18013849
quicklist: 5title: Stressed-Out Travelertext: SomaWave Helmet ($79.95). This silver-colored futuristic-looking gizmo sits on your noggin and the battery-powered vibrations supposedly melt away stress and tension ("like having thousands of tiny fingers stimulate your scalp!").
The helmet comes with this caution: "Do not wear while operating heavy machinery" as the "euphoria-inducing waves may produce sleep or trance-like states." On the plus side, if you wear this on a plane no one will sit anywhere near you since you'll look like a Martian.media: 18013882
quicklist: 6title: Wine Connoisseur Travelertext: Bottle Armor (from $25.00). This looks pretty handy if you have to carry a nice bottle of Burgundy in a checked-bag; the padded nylon packaging includes a "see-through window, two extra-strength zip-top seals, and a Velcro fold-over flap." However, last time I looked out the window of my aircraft, I saw a ground crew tossing luggage around with great vigor (imagine a Roller-Bag Rodeo), so I wonder if shipping your vintages wouldn't be a wiser move.
Note: Forget bringing that bottle of Krug Champagne Grande Cuvee ($200.99 at BevMo) in your carry-on no matter what it's packed in; it's too much liquid and no one wants to see a grown man cry as it gets dumped at the security checkpoint. media:
quicklist: 7title: Insomniac Traveler text: Two ideas: SkyRest Pillow ($29.95), a large, inflatable cushion you place on your open seat tray table and slump over, or the Blackout Hooded Pillow ($39.99) which is a U-shaped cushion with attached black hood that covers your entire face "for some primo shut-eye."
Careful: Don't make any false moves with that mask-like hood on; you realize it'll make you look like a cat burglar, right?
quicklist: 8 title: Bonus Gift text: Bigfoot Garden Yeti (life size, $2,250 plus two hundred bucks for shipping). What's not to like? "The nearly six-foot-tall Garden Yeti will have guests doing a double-take as they admire your creative home or garden". And as a commenter on the SkyMall website noted, you can earn extra style points by placing an object in Mr. Yeti's hand: "Mine has a bottle of beer!"
To that I can only add, cheers - and happy holidays to all.