No matter where you look, someone is always trying to sell you something. If you’re looking to travel it’ll be no different. The trick is figuring out what might actually be useful. Reading reviews is a great start and will get you most of the way there, but nothing works quite as well as a bit of common sense applied liberally to the target area. Here are the top 3 travel items that I looked at and thought, “hey that’s clever”, thought about it and changed my mind. So, to the makers of the following items, kudos to you for your smart marketing, and shame on you for selling such useless crap.
3. Laser Keyboard
Why it looks smart – It’s essentially a little laser projector that projects an insubstantial keyboard onto a table for you to type on. This is super handy for avoiding those annoying tiny keys on your phone or the touchscreen on your tablet.
Why it’s actually not – People who want to type anything of significant length will bring a laptop because the phone probably lacks the display capabilities and the computing power that they need. Tablet touchscreens are sufficiently advanced to work better than a laser keyboard, and anyone typing on a phone is typically proficient enough not to need an extra keyboard. At the end of the day it’s just another piece of junk in your bag that you have to worry about.
2. Hand Crank Generator
Why it looks smart – Imagine the scene. You’re stuck out in the middle of nowhere and break your ankle. You reach for your phone only to find that you’re out of batteries! But it’s ok because you have your trusty hand crank generator! The day is saved. After only several minutes of work you have enough time to make a 20 second phone call and rescue is on its way!
Why it’s actually not – Because that scene is ridiculous. Any place that doesn’t have electricity will also not have cell phone towers to receive your call. The reason I focus on phones specifically is because they are the only electronic device that can theoretically be powered by a hand generator that has a battery that’s expensive enough for you to have an excuse to not be carrying a spare. For every other device you can simply bring spare batteries and save yourself lots of money and ridiculous amounts of time spent cranking.
Why it looks smart – because you can store your stuff tucked neatly out of sight where no one will ever think to look; inside your laptop! No one will ever find it!
Why it’s actually not – Because the fact that your thief will never find your credit card or twenty bucks will do nothing to keep him from helping himself to your laptop. Laptops are large enough to be easily spotted, easy to grab, and then easy to conceal under a coat while making a getaway. Now instead of just stealing what’s probably your most valuable item you’ve also given your thief all your cash, credit cards, and probably backup information so you can’t even buy a drink afterward.
From simply unnecessary to asking for very real trouble, these items are the lowest of the low in travel gear. Simply avoid bringing them and your trip will already have been improved.
Guy Pierson is a writer and globetrotter, currently working as a content creator for the EHIC travel support team at applyehic.org. Guy’s hobbies include learning new languages, eating bizarre food, and glider flying.