Best Airline-Inspired Products For Home And Travel

Airline design Bordbar beverage carts
Courtesy Bordbar

Most souvenirs remind us of travel to a specific place, but how about products to remind us of the journey? Some crafty designers have made home and travel products inspired by (or even made of) airplane designs.

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Baggage tag: You can use your initials or your favorite airport code on the baggage tag design of this messenger bag ($129).

Beverage cart: Ever thought those narrow beverage carts would look cool in your home? Bordbar has vintage and new customized beverage carts from 329 euro for a small galley box, 979 euro for the full size trolley.

Boarding pass: With mobile phone check-in, paper boarding passes might soon be a thing of the past. Take your laptop out for security in this snazzy sleeve, which you can customize with your name and flight info ($28.95-32.95).

Flotation device: The same designer as the belt below has taken flotation devices and fashioned them into sleeves for the iPad and iPhone, but we still wouldn’t recommend getting them wet (49-69 euro).

Remove before flight tag: Rather than wear one of those funny-looking neck pillows, use one made with an aircraft tag, complete with a loop for carrying. Don’t feel you have to follow the “remove before flight” instructions though, it works perfectly on a plane or at home ($25).

Safety card: You shouldn’t actually take the safety card from the seat pocket, but you shouldn’t leave your passport there either. Keep it safe with this $20 passport holder (slim wallet also available, $18).

Seat belt: Stay buckled in for safety with a white belt made with a real airplane belt (79 euro). Keep in mind you’ll likely still have remove it for TSA security.

American Tourist Eats Pickled Human Toe



Traveling often involves eating things you’d never imagine ingesting at home. Fried tarantulas, grilled bull testicles, ant eggs, fish eyes… the list of unusual foreign foods goes on and on. But one thing we’ve certainly never imagined would make the list is human toes. However, that’s exactly what an American man ate over the weekend, during a peculiar drinking game in Canada.

According to the tradition, you’re expected to plonk the pickled toe into a beer glass filled with a drink of your choosing and ensure the toe touches your lips as you chug down your booze.

The drinking ritual has been taking place at the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Yukon for more than 40 years, but few have dared to swallow the toe. Doing so is frowned upon and will earn you a $500 fine. But that didn’t deter the American tourist who gulped the toe down along with his beer on Saturday. The man made off with the pickled digit lodged firmly in his digestive tract before the bar owner could stop him.The bizarre drinking game apparently started back in the 1970s when a local riverboat captain came across a frostbitten toe while cleaning out a ship cabin. It’s thought the toe was already about 50 years old at the time. In the years since, about 60,000 tourists have taken part in the strange custom, with a few brave souls chowing down on the gnarly body part. The first toe was apparently swallowed in 1980 and altogether about 15 toes have been lost or consumed. Where exactly the other 14 toes came from, however, is anyone’s guess!

Luxury Vacation Guide 2012: Istanbul

Travel like a modern sultan with design-conscious hotels, bespoke shopping, and high-end dining at the crossroads of two continents: Istanbul, Turkey.

In 2010, Istanbul made headlines in every travel magazine and newspaper as it was home to one of the European Capitals of Culture. The influx of cash and visitors meant dozens of new hotels, art galleries, museums, and world-class restaurants. As many European countries’ economies have seen trouble in the last year, the Turkish Tiger is booming. Visitors today can relive the glory days of travel in the restored Pera Palace Hotel, built for the Orient Express passengers, or luxuriate in modern style with a water view at the House Hotel Bosphorus. Marvel at the jewel-encrusted treasures at Topkapı Palace and pick up something for your own royal residence at Paşabahçe, where home goods run from a few lira for a çay glass to thousands for a mosaic-tiled Ottoman-inspired vase; or invest in artisanal, limited-edition jewelry and textiles at Armaggan. Sample Turkish classics with a modern twist at Lokanta Maya for shared mezes or at the Michelin-standard Mimolett restaurant and wine boutique. If you haven’t put on too much weight from all the fantastic food, you can commission a bespoke suit, leather jacket, or customized pair of shoes at the Grand Bazaar or on the back streets of Nişantaşı, Istanbul’s fashion district. While no longer a budget travel destination, Istanbul has something to offer every taste, from an elaborate dinner aboard a private yacht to the simple (and cheap) pleasure of a ferry ride between continents.

[flickr image via Witt Istanbul Suites]

Fortnighter launches, providing customized expert travel advice

travel adviceEver wish you could have a travel magazine or guidebook written just for you, catering to your specific interests and full of up-to-date travel advice? The new travel website Fortnighter offers just that–customized itineraries written by professional travel writers.

How does it work?
Start with a destination, specify who you’re traveling with (solo, as a couple, or with friends), and the number of days (currently 3, 5, or 7). You’ll be quoted a fee of $100 – $200 depending on the number of days and given a questionnaire to fill out with your interests and specifications. One week later, Fortnighter will send back a PDF with a detailed run-down of what to do and where to eat and stay (check out a sample itinerary here).

How can I trust the travel advice on Fortnighter?
The contributors have written for all the big travel outlets, from the New York Times to Condé Nast Traveler to Fodor’s guidebooks, travel frequently both for a living and because it’s what they love. All itineraries come without writer bylines, to ensure that their advice comes without bias or influence from hotels or restaurants. Plus, we can personally vouch for the site – it was founded by writer Alexander Basek, a friend and colleague to many of Gadling’s contributors.

Why should I pay for travel advice?
If you’ve ever spent time on Trip Advisor or other user-generated websites, you’ll know that sometimes you want expert advice from people who travel extensively, not just people who want to complain about the airplane movie or that their towel wasn’t folded into the right animal. Just because Joe Blow loves a restaurant featured in all the guidebooks doesn’t mean a single local would eat there, and you might miss out on a great small hotel if they don’t have a fancy website optimized to come to the top of your Google search. Fortnighter writers are selected based on their personal expertise and experience, and are often located in the destinations they write about to provide local recommendations. It’s a fraction of the cost of a customized tour, and you can do it independently and at your own pace.

Sound good to you? Check it out at www.fortnighter.com and share your experiences with us.

Dim Sum Dialogues: Double Happiness

In a continuation from yesterday on my post about Hong Kong weddings, I wanted to shed some light on the interesting history behind a prominent symbol that can be found decorating virtually every wedding in China. Double Happiness.

Sometimes translated as “double joy”, or “double happy”, the character itself is a ligature of two Chinese characters that mean “joy”, pressed together. It’s usually cut out of red paper – occasionally black, and can be found everywhere in a wedding. Walls, windows, doors and gifts that are given to the couple all bear the design.
The legend behind the design states that in the ancient Tang Dynasty, there was a student traveling to the capital for a national examination. The examination was to select ministers in the emperor’s court. Halfway through his journey to the city of the emperor, the student fell ill and was taken in to a small village by a herbalist doctor and his daughter.

The student and the doctor’s daughter fell in love with each other over the course of the stay, and both found it very hard to say goodbye when the time came. The girl said goodbye by writing down half of a couplet, for the student to contemplate and complete after his exam.

It read : “Green trees against the sky in the spring rain while the sky set off the spring trees in the obscuration.” After the student reached his destination, he took top honors in the examination. As a further test of the highest achievers, the emperor requested that he interview each one of them face to face. When it came time for the student to be interviewed, the emperor asked the student to finish a couplet that he had written. Luck was on the student’s side.

The emperor wrote: “Red flowers dot the land in the breeze’s chase while the land colored up in red after the kiss.” The student immediately realized that the girl’s half of the couplet was a perfect match. He answered without hesitation.

The emperor was delighted to see the wit and talent of the young man, and authorized him to be a minister in the high court.

As a special gift, the emperor allowed the student to return home before becoming a minister. The young man was overjoyed and rushed back to the village of the doctor, to meet the doctor’s daughter at her home. He shared what had happened and asked if she would marry him. They became married right away.

To celebrate the wedding, the couple showed their pleasure by doubling the chinese character for Joy on a red piece of paper, and put it on the wall.

From then on, Double Happiness has become a prevalent social custom and a symbol used in weddings throughout China.