Oi, Mom, show us the money, not your naff ‘travel’ gifts


Oi, Mom, show us the money, not your naff ‘travel’ gifts

Who comes up with this utter tat? These thousands of tenuously reimagined products aimed at travellers?

Simon Parker

Right on cue, the inevitable “what on earth do we buy Simon for Christmas?” conversations have begun. Yes, me. The sibling who’s “always impossible to buy for” – “the traveller of the family”, with no fixed abode, gradually hoarding (and forgetting about) tinsel-lined paper bags in various cupboards around the country.
Please don’t think of me as a spoilt brat – I’ve briefed my mom that I’m about to take aim at some of her unappreciated gifts – and she’s waiting with bated breath. But at the age of 31, and with enough unused presents to open my very own franchise of Cape Union Mart, I think it’s high time to address an issue that increasingly gets my goat; naff products aimed at “travellers”.
I now have three of those gaudy wall maps that leave inky gunk on the carpet when you scratch off a nation you’ve been to. I think they go by the name of “Look at how many more countries I’ve been to than you, Scratchy Map thingymajiggies”, or something to that effect.
Last year I received an utterly useless “travel knife-torch” that lights up at one end and has a series of blunt blades, bottle openers and screwdrivers at the other – meaning that you have to alternate between first seeing your chosen object, before then jabbing your chosen tool at it blindly. Travel mugs, travel pillows, travel water bottles, travel chopsticks, travel air purifiers – you name it, I’ve probably got one in a draw somewhere. Put the word “travel” before almost any word into an internet search engine and you’ll be bombarded with thousands of tenuously reimagined everyday products aimed at “travellers”. Basically, anyone who has been anywhere. Ever.
Who comes up with this utter tat? Are these products the result of extensive ideas showers and blue-sky thinking?
Many of these products are accompanied by nonsensical spiel, boasting of a cultural or ergonomic breakthrough of some kind. Backpacks with “the space-saving traveller in mind” or extortionately priced travel umbrellas with “rubberised handles and durable ripstop canopies”, designed to combat all that particularly wet foreign rain, I imagine.
How about the anti-wrinkle travel spray created to “free garments of stubborn creases” during flights? Or if that fails, why not resort to a bulky anti-crease shirt transporter? Unashamed poppycock – however, all to be featured within travel-themed Christmas listicles in the coming weeks, no doubt.
Some of this trash also plays into a much more sinister narrative of the world. Like the “discreet” and “invisible” money belts we’re encouraged to don the moment we touch down overseas. Paris, Pondicherry, Pyongyang: pickpockets present – or so we’d be led to believe. Under no circumstances should you rely upon the purse or wallet that’s perfectly reliable back home. No, the moment you go on holiday, all your monetary transactions should be accompanied by a shifty fiddle under your shirt or blouse, just to retrieve the small change required for a coffee.
Similarly, why are most travel garments covered in so many zips? It’s as though our puny home-time pockets will be rendered useless in other countries. Maybe they’re hardwired to empty out, unannounced, on foreign soil? And as for those ridiculous khaki trousers that turn into shorts at the twist of a zip? I apologise if I’ve scowled at you in a departure lounge or hotel restaurant in the past. It’s a reaction I’m simply unable to control. And just for clarity. No Mom, please don’t get me any of these for Christmas.
- © The Daily Telegraph

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