Whenever you travel, you have your essentials: your passport, your carry-on, your in-flight distraction of choice (iPad, Kindle, magazine). Then you have items that are…not so necessary, like these very odd travel gadgets and gizmos.
Warning: these are for those who aren't planning on packing light.
Portable Infrared Sauna
If your hotel doesn't have its own spa, but you can't live without your daily schvitz, just bring the sauna with you. The system deploys 600-watt, infrared heaters to make you work up a sweat—you just have to be cool with looking like you're resting in the world's least comfortable sleeping bag. skymall.com, $400.
Napping on the go is hard: Lights are too bright, sounds are too loud, the temperature is less-than-ideal.
Stick your head (and hands) in the sand with the Ostrich Pillow, which lets you escape all of these distractions for a quick power nap.
Note: Even though you might think you're hiding in your own cave of comfort, people can definitely still see you—in fact, you might even be calling attention to yourself—so you can't crawl in there when you want to get out of work meetings. studiobananathings.com, $100.
You want to keep yourself safe from germs and pollution, but those stark clinical masks clash with your wardrobe.
Vogmask offers microfiber fabric masks—which they claim filter out 99 percent of dust, ash, germs, and pollen—in more attractive patterns. You will, however, still look paranoid. magellans.com, $20.
(See also: February deals)
Packable Walking Stick
Walking sticks that you find outdoors along a trail may have that cool, hippie Gandalf vibe to them, but they are so single-function—and dirty.
Instead, opt for a sleek, 50-inch, metal walking stick, which comes with a built-in compass and place to attach a camera. When you're finished using it, the whole thing packs up into a 11.25" carrying case. hammacher.com, $40.
Tugo Cup Holder
You're zooming around the airport with your roll-on suitcase in one hand and your boarding pass in the other—where do you put your coffee?
The Tugo cup holder lets you suspend a drink in between the bars of the handle of your suitcase—for a short time, at least, since you definitely have to remove it before trying to get your luggage into the overhead bin, or risk a face full of hot coffee. goodtugo.com, $3 to $13.
Sure, these bars may make you look like you're suffering from a neck injury, but they're really designed to help you get your 40 winks by keeping your head in place and your neck aligned.
If the look of it gives you nightmares of headgear, you can also buy a silky cover to go with it. skymall.com, $40 for the UpRight Sleeper alone, $47 for the Sleeper/cover combo.
When you travel, you don't want to waste time adjusting to jet lag. Re-Timer's sci-fi-looking goggles will try to help you adjust before you even take off.
The glasses emit light that mimics sunlight to adjust your internal clock in smaller, baby steps. We can't prove it works, but it's definitely got fewer calories than those creamy, venti coffees you use to wake yourself up after entering a new time zone. re-timer.com, $290.
Long journeys can wreak havoc on the breath, and sometimes your toothbrush is too packed away for a mid-trip freshening.
Consider slipping a few Toothettes into your travel bag. They clean teeth and freshen breath, and don't even need any water to work—your saliva is good enough—so you can use them anywhere. Plus, they look like cute little lollipops. magellans.com, $9.50 for a pack of 20.
Even when you're away from home, you have your standards—and flimsy plastic takeout utensils just will not do. The reusable ForkChops are not only more stylish, the three-in-one eating utensil—which includes a fork, knife, and chopsticks—covers most any meal you will encounter. Just don't order soup (unless, of course, you also buy a Titanium Spork). thinkgeek.com, $5 for ForkChops, $10 for the Titanium Spork.
Hand Crank Emergency Cell Phone Charger
How many times have you needed to juice up your phone, but can't find a public outlet?
If that text absolutely, positively has to go out right that minute, this device can solve your problem with a little elbow grease. One minute of cranking gets converted into 30 seconds of energy, so you'll also get to work out those arm muscles. hammacher.com, $60.
Air Supply Mini-Mate Wearable Air Purifiers
Admit it: We all head to our flights wondering what germs will be boarding with us. If you've gotten one too many colds from your fellow passengers, Wein's portable, wearable air purifier seeks to cleanse your every breath using "silent, fanless, and filterless" ion winds. It may not look stylish, but what's more fashionable than breathing rarefied air? Available at Amazon, $90.
SkyRest Travel Pillow
Sure, pulling out a 17-inch-tall travel pillow might garner stares from your fellow passengers, but do you care about the judgment of strangers when you're sleeping? At least you won't have to sacrifice precious cargo space for comfort: The pillow inflates and deflates, so you don't have to worry about shoving the whole thing into your carry-on. Available at Skymall, $30.
Sand Free Beach Mat
No, sand and dirt granules don't count as souvenirs—at least not the kind that stick to your blanket or bag. Leave it to science to figure out how to keep the sand at the beach.
This mat features a "dual-layer, patented weave that creates a 'one way sift'"—meaning particles that are kicked on top of the mat can filter through to the ground, while grains from below the mat can't work their way through the fibers to the top. (We'd still shake it out before putting it in the car.) You can also harness the impenetrable material in tote-bag form ($25). Available at the Sharper Image, $60.
The Walker's Path Illuminating Belt
When stumbling around in the near-dark, for obvious reasons it's best to be as unencumbered as possible. Flashlights tie up your hands, and headlamps mess up your hair (not to mention blind anyone you talk to). This LED belt provides 100 lumens of unhindered, crotch-level illumination, the angle of which can be adjusted from floodlight to spotlight.
You do run the risk, however, of looking like a Care Bear in the midst of a Care Bear Stare. Available at Hammacher Schlemmer, $60.
Powerbag Instant Messenger
You wouldn't have guessed that we live in an age where it's necessary to carry around a rechargeable 6,000-milliampere-hour battery at all times, but here we are.
Powerbag's Instant Messenger bag carries a battery with Apple, Micro-USB, and Mini-USB connectors and a USB port for charging your devices on the go, and it's reportedly got enough juice to charge a smartphone four times over. Just remember that the bag itself also needs to power up every once in a while (the AC adapter is included). Available at Powerbag, $180.
Wi-Fi Detector Shirt
For travelers who live on their laptops, a strong Wi-Fi signal is key, and booting up the laptop at every coffee shop just to find a weak connection is an occupational hazard. No longer.
If you're into geek chic, this T-shirt glows according to nearby Wi-Fi signal strength. It may be the only T-shirt you own that requires AAA batteries (removable for washing), but you'll only have to look down to see if internet is available. Think Geek, $20.
You don't have to wear your wino tendencies on your sleeve—but you can carry them around in an unassuming black nylon purse.
When you're publicly picnicking, the small spigot on the side of the bag is the only indication that you're carting around booze, and the bag is roomy enough to hold three liters of wine.
The deception may suggest problem drinking, but at least you don't have to feel sheepish about imbibing wine from a box. Available at Uncommon Goods, $70.
Mobile Foodie Survival Kit
When you're on the road, you might not have any cayenne handy. Or dill. Or basil. If you simply cannot live without a spice rack at your disposal, the Mobile Foodie Survival Kit has you covered with 1.5-tablespoon-sized jars of organic sea salt, black pepper, cayenne, onion, basil, cinnamon, oregano, garlic, thyme, curry, rosemary, ginger, and dill.
Just be prepared for your travel companions to (rightfully) call you a finicky eater. Available at Uncommon Goods, $26.
If you're traveling someplace where it's impossible to find a bathroom, just take a bathroom with you. The five-inch-by-five-inch Biffy is a "three-layer leak- and puncture-proof bag" filled with specially formulated powder that "engulfs waste, solidifies liquids, and creates an immediate seal to neutralize odor 4,000 times better than a regular garbage bag."
The bags also helpfully come with toilet tissues and wet wipes. Where you dispose of the bag is entirely up to you. Available at Skymall, $7.
Go-Girl and Shewee
Speaking of: Tricky bathroom situations are always much easier for men to navigate than women. Two different products, the GoGirl and the Shewee, attempt to even out the scales by helping women urinate while standing up.
Neither have been tested by Condé Nast Traveler editors for ease of use, so we don't know if you'll wind up with a (literal) mess on your hands. GoGirl is available at go-girl.com, $13; Shewee is available at shewee.com, £8.
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