My Final Boarding Call

I’ve never been the guy who gets paged to his departure gate because the flight is about to leave without him. I’m ashamed to admit that I’m actually the guy who sneaks through the boarding line well before his group has been called. I’m not really in a rush to leave; it’s just that I want to make sure that I have room for my bag. That’s a roundabout way of saying that it’s time for me to leave Gadling and say farewell to all of you.

I joined Gadling in November 2008. The Internet was powered by a hand crank and flip phones were all the rage. It really was a simpler time. I’ve enjoyed being a part of Gadling’s growth and evolution over the years. More than anything else, though, I relished the opportunity to entertain all of you.

I have written approximately 180 “SkyMall Monday” posts in which I have covered somewhere around 250 products. Frankly, that’s insane. Well, more accurately, it’s whimsical. I always strove to add my odd sense of humor to Gadling. Doing so has allowed me to share laughs with many of you, earn the ire of others and even appear on CBS News.For many, travel is a serious and thoughtful venture. It’s about self-discovery, philosophy and culture. For me, it’s about fun. Sure, I get introspective on the road. I also try new foods and experiences. But I most enjoy those curious moments when you find unlicensed Lego Hitler t-shirts in Japan and stumble upon a piñata shop in Austin, Texas.

I cannot offer enough thanks to the fine folks who allowed me to write for Gadling. I also appreciate each and every one of you who took the time to read my posts, offer comments and even send me emails. I’ve met many wonderful people through Gadling and the site will continue on without me, staffed by dedicated travelers ready to share their insights with you.

As for me, I am moving on to the next adventure. I am honored to be joining the editorial staff at ShermansTravel. I hope that you will join me over there for more tips, stories and, of course, laughs.

I’m going to sneak through the line and be on my way now. There once was a time when you could have passed through security and kept me company at the gate until I departed. That seems like such a long time ago. Things change and goodbyes are never easy. I can’t promise that I’ll call you, but you can always just follow me on Twitter.

Video Of The Day: Scuba Marriage Proposal In Riviera Maya, Mexico

Scuba diving is a hobby that many travelers enjoy. People traverse the globe looking for the best dive sights and new adventures. While most scuba divers consider any excursion in which they see a new fish or sea creature a success, the young man in this video had a bigger catch in mind: his girlfriend. He proposed underwater in Riviera Maya, Mexico after plotting with the dive crew for six months leading up to the trip. The YouTube video description provides more details:

Once in the water, we dived for approximately 25 minutes until we both sat on the bottom of the ocean floor with fish, turtles, and lobsters all around. Once we sat, Emily thought we were actually taking a group picture. She had no idea she was about to be engaged!

I pulled out a board that I had written on, “I love you so much. Will you marry me?” I pulled the ring out of a shell that I had hidden it in. She was so confused she didn’t know what to do. Also, with scuba diving, you can’t give a thumbs up, because it simply means to surface, so we we’re left to enjoy out satisfaction with the “OK” sign.

OK indeed.

SkyMall Monday: Bed Bug Sleeping Cocoon (Poll)

Hotel beds are gross. That’s just a fact. Frankly, everything in your hotel room is contaminated with something (including bodily fluids) and not just the hellholes where you expect to find filth. These days, however, more and more people are worried about a particular cleanliness issue in hotels: bedbugs. Not only will bedbugs make your stay miserable, but you very well could ruin your home life if you carry the little biters back with you at the end of your trip. We sleep in a meat locker here at SkyMall Monday headquarters to keep the bloodsuckers at bay. When we travel, however, we live in constant fear of waking up with itchy red marks brought on from letting the bedbugs bite. Thankfully, SkyMall has chosen to nip this problem in the bud and now offers a layer of protection from things that chomp in the night. The next time you’re calling it a day in your hotel room, wrap yourself up in the Bed Bug Sleeping Cocoon.Hotel sheets can be abrasive, so skipping them in favor of your own cocoon isn’t really much of a loss. Frankly, the cocoon might be a better alternative than donning a hazmat suit when you enter your hotel room.

Think that cocoons are only for moths and butterflies? Believe that any hotel worth your money will be bedbug-free? Well, while you soothe your skin in an oatmeal bath, we’ll be reading the product description:

This portable sleeping cocoon is made from a specially woven fabric that is impervious to bed bugs. Its tightly wound polyester threads are only 1-micron apart to prevent 100% of bed bugs from penetrating the fabric. The durable polyester threads are impervious to bed bugs’ teeth yet the fabric remains soft, pliable, and breathable for optimal sleeping comfort in a hotel bed. The hooded top protects your head and neck yet allows you to breathe naturally, and the entire unit fits in the included tote for ease of travel.

Ah yes, polyester: the most breathable fabric on the planet. Who doesn’t wish they could replace their fine Egyptian cotton sheets with some smooth polyester?

Well, what say you, Gadling and SkyMall Monday fans? Would you pack your own Bed Bug Sleeping Cocoon to keep you safe in hotel rooms? Let us know in the poll below and share your thoughts in the comments.
Check out all of the previous “SkyMall Monday” posts HERE.

Airline Madness Champion: Obese Passengers Who Take Up Two Seats

Airline Madness is Gadling’s tournament of airline annoyances. You can catch up on all of the previous tournament action here.

Obese passengers who take up two seats has won our Airline Madness tournament. After last year’s Hotel Madness tournament was completely dominated by the #1 seed, it’s shocking to see this Airline Madness won by the #13 seed. It just goes to show that you never know what to expect when things are put to a vote. Obese passengers who take up two seats garnered a shocking number of votes from Gadling readers in every round of the tournament. Even in the championship round, #2 seed Legroom struggled to secure even 40% of the vote. Our readers, it turns out, do not like to share their space.When we first put out a call for airline pet peeve submissions on Twitter and Facebook, heavy passengers were frequently mentioned, though not nearly as often those that would ultimately be given the higher seeded annoyances in our tournament. That’s how we arrived at the #13 seed for the eventual – and unexpected – champion. We had no idea at the time that readers would vote in droves for the Cinderella of the tournament.

We fully anticipated voters to be motivated by their wallets. Shockingly, however, an overwhelming majority of our readers voted for Obese passengers who take up two seats in the first round against Baggage fees. We knew then that readers from across the globe shared this opinion. Little did we know that voters would continue the trend all the way through the tournament.

Now, it should be noted that some of the blame for the phenomenon on planes must be placed on the airlines. They have made their seats smaller and smaller over the years. So much so, that even average-sized travelers struggle to fit comfortably. That, of course, explains how Legroom made it to the finals. And, as any traveler with broad shoulders will tell you, rubbing shoulders with the passenger next to you is fairly common. So, heavier passengers are not solely to blame for the cramped quarters on planes.

That said, voters in our polls expressed that they do not like giving up their space. Outside of paying more for a business or first-class seat, we’re stuck with the economy cabin seats offered by the airlines. The airlines dictate the size of those seats. And our readers have said that they do not want anyone infringing on that small portion of the airplane that they get to call their own.

Another Travel Madness tournament in the books. What a wild ride this year’s run has been. An unexpected champion, an amazing number of votes and some fantastic feedback from our readers. Thanks to everyone who voted in all of the polls.

If you missed any of the action from Airline Madness or simply want to enjoy it all again, use the links below.

More Airline Madness:
Championship: Obese people who take up two seats vs. Legroom
Final Four
Second round match-ups:
#1 Annoying Passengers vs. #9 People who get mad at people who recline their seats
#12 Inattentive parents of crying babies vs. #13 Obese people who take up two seats
#6 Change fees/no free standby vs. #3 Lack of free food/prices for food
#7 Rude airline staff vs. #2 Legroom
First round match-ups
#1 Annoying passengers vs. #16 Disgusting bathrooms
#2 Legroom vs. #15 Inefficient boarding procedures
#3 Lack of free food/prices for food vs. #14 Cold cabin/no blankets
#4 Baggage Fees vs. #13 Obese people who take up two seats
#5 Lack of overhead space vs. Inattentive parents of crying babies
#6 Change fees/no free standby vs. #11 Lack of personal entertainment/charging for entertainment
#7 Rude airline staff vs. #10 Having to turn off electronic devices during takeoff & landing
#8 People who recline their seats vs. #9 People who get mad at people who recline their seats
Hotel Madness: Gadling’s tournament of airline annoyances

Catch up on all the Airline Madness here.

Video Of The Day: Bear Dances In The Woods

Spring is here, which means we’ll all be heading back onto hiking trails and into the woods for camping trips. Of course, we’re not the only species taking advantage of everything nature has to offer. We share trails, forests and just about everything else with all manner of animals big and small. Thanks to a well-placed camera, we can now see what happens in the woods when we’re not there. As expected, it’s all dance parties, popping and locking. After sleeping for months, you’d be ready to bust a move, too!