How can the travel industry make our lives easier next year? By creating these not so sci-fi products. Please us now, please!

By Jordan Rane

How can the travel industry make our lives easier next year? By creating these not so sci-fi products. Please us now, please!

The travel industry is forever coming up with new stuff to lure us out of our Barcaloungers and make our experiences abroad easier, smoother and richer. Or at least a bit less taxing.

Some ideas are ingenious: airplanes, luggage wheels, 800-megapixel cameras the size of your thumbnail. Others are ridiculous: an inflatable shirt that — we kid you not, this was test marketed — doubles as a wearable mattress pad.

The point is, an inexhaustible supply of golden travel innovations are waiting to hatch. As far as we know, the following overdue breakthroughs haven’t yet made it. But isn’t it about time they did?

1. Pocket E. coli scanner (with optional Hep. A attachment):


Never mind mosquitoes or typhoons. Food-borne illness is the number-one trip wrecker.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 50 percent of international travelers will develop travelers diarrhea, and approximately 80 percent of these cases will be caused by rampant bacterial enteropathogens like E. coli.

A better solution to fasting or eating exclusively in hotel restaurants: scan this handy little device over your plate of mee krob or aloo gobi and say no to a week of gastrointestinal misadventure.

Yes, we’d also like an attachable virus- and parasite-scanning accessory for less than US$50.

2. Airplane window-view enhancement

"Totally worth having to climb my way to the toilet."

Unless you’re standing on K2, the only incredible vista from way above sea level you’re getting in this lifetime is through a triple-layer, pressure-sealed, modified acrylic airplane porthole beside a grumpy guy who wants to keep the shade closed.

At least until Airbus unveils its wall-to-wall windowed “transparent” airplane in 2050.

In the meantime, what we need is either a designated airplane “viewing section” or, better yet, some sort of gizmo — no, not binoculars, we’re not bird-watching — that can make the perfunctory act of glancing out of an airplane as awesome as it should be.

3. Steadi-bed

"If i sway right and the boat sways left, I'll come out even."

Enough already. Can we take the 40-year-old Steadicam® technology and apply it to cruise ship beds?

Only a Dramamine salesman or sadistic deckhand laughing at green-faced passengers in the Straits of Magellan wouldn’t welcome this as a mandatory cabin amenity on all rocking and rolling cruise lines.

4. Disposable underwear

I think it's time to let these go.

Not Depends. Not diapers. Not the groin-chafing, thigh-itching, semi-transparent throw-away briefs that already exist in packs of six dozen.

We’re talking feather-light, super-comfy, kinda sexy, totally biodegradable undies that get deep-sixed at the end of a hard day of traveling — instead of being carted around until the bulk of day-old drawers in your suitcase can no longer be ignored.

Just make sure you check the expiration date.

5. Luggage ‘Lojack’

Hope that complimentary toiletry kit tides you over for the holidays.

When your checked luggage goes AWOL, wouldn’t it at least be nice to know that your bag wasn’t stolen but somehow got re-routed to BUF (Buffalo Niagara) instead of BUD (Budapest)?

Just a wafer-thin, satellite-friendly chip that Samsonite can install for a nominal fee that can instantly tell you exactly where your bags are vacationing without you.

6. White noise in every hotel room

Just don't play "waterfall" after a night of binge drinking.

Four- and five-star hotels carry on about their 500-count linens, goose down pillows and lavender-scented towels — none of which changes the fact that people still sleep horribly in any room where elevators, tantrum-throwing kids, ice machines and arguing or “reconciling” couples are just a wall away.

Two simple words can change all that: white noise.

Probably you’ve heard of it. But, for some reason, hotels that charge US$300 a night haven’t.

Rain. Waterfall. Blue whale mating calls. Whatever soporific sound settles your nerves, a quality white noise function on every bedside table is worth a thousand Aveda products.

This should not be confused with the room fan or a free hypnosis app.

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