Inventions That Would Make Travel Bearable

29 March 2015
Read Time: 3.0 mins

Words by Oliver Smith 

With sales of the Knee Defender - the gadget that protects you from reclining plane seats - on the up, here are 13 other inventions or innovations that would be welcomed by travellers.

Paperclip Armrest

Changes to plane interiors usually revolve around making life more luxurious for premium passengers - and cramming as many people into economy class as possible. With airlines seeking to maximise profits, plane seats, and even toilets, are getting smaller - is it any wonder that we have seen a troika of spats over legroom in recent weeks?

A simple armrest could prevent rows erupting over elbow room too. The "Paperclip" design was unveiled earlier this year - now it's up to manufacturers and airlines to back it.

Image courtesy of Paperclip Design

Overhead bin dividers

A staggeringly simple idea, but one that would prevent passengers from hogging the in-flight storage space with their dubiously large carry-on bags, jackets, and duty-free purchases. Rather than having one giant luggage bin divided between three people, split it into three equal compartments.

With many low-cost airlines, such as Ryanair, routinely place cabin luggage into the hold due to a lack of space, this could also speed up the boarding process.

The airport multi plug

I spotted a bizarre scene at Gare du Nord in Paris recently. Four tourists pedalling furiously on specially-adapted electricity-generating static bikes in a desperate bid to keep their mobiles charged. Why not just allow passengers to stick their phone charger into a blasted power socket? Better still, purchase a few multi plugs, and let everyone have free rein on your precious joules.

Considering how few of us can go five minutes without checking Facebook/Twitter/Tinder/Cricinfo, and given the iPhone's notoriously shoddy battery life, this would be unfathomably popular in both train stations and airports.

Image courtesy of Getty

The sober-up pill

Boffins at UCLA recently developed a drug that can supposedly sober up sloshed drinkers in seconds. At least one major UK airline is rumoured to be interesting in stocking the pills on board its flights - what better way to combat alcohol-induced air rage?

Soundproof baby booths

Air passengers have never been known for their sympathy when it comes to sharing the sky with young children.

Jeremy Clarkson, the former Top Gear presenter, one prompted outrage from Twitter users for suggesting that flying babies “belong in the hold”; polls by Telegraph Travel have shown that the majority of readers would support child-free flights; while the unveiling of adults-only zones by Malaysian carrier Air Asia X last year was met with nearly unanimous approval.

More humane, surely, would be the introduction of soundproof booths within the cabin for travelling families? I'm envisaging something like the spacecraft used by the Jetsons.

Rotating sun loungers

If you're keen to - in the words of Peter Sarstedt - "get an even sun tan, on your back and on your legs", what could be better than loungers that automatically swivel to face the sun throughout the day?

Everlasting sun cream

As with the everlasting lightbulb, it is very hard to understand how this hasn't already been developed. The only explanation? The Boots/Ambre Solaire cabal has bought up the patents and is keeping it firmly under wraps.

Image courtesy of Getty


Surely something could be developed that would allow air passengers to be frisked by a machine rather than a bulky man in uniform.

In fact, they actually have an auto-frisk device at Southwold's brilliant Under the Pier Show. But considering it appears alongside mechanical games that allow you to "whack a banker", walk a virtual dog, and attempt to cross a motorway on a zimmer frame, I'm not entirely sure it is effective at uncovering concealed weapons.

The buzzword blocker

Fed up with talk of "staycations", "weighcations", "floatels", "flightseeing", "twixmas" and "spafaris"? Simply enter the most irritating travel buzzwords into this clever browsing tool and all tour operators and hotels that use them will be blocked from your online search results.

The all-inclusive calculator

Another helpful online tool, this would automatically add hold baggage, and any other desired extras, to headline airfares, making it easier to compare the cost of flights.

Image courtesy of Getty


You'll never get ripped off in the souks of Marrakech for a silver ring that turns your finger green, or authentic "Made in China" lace from the cobbled back streets of Bruges.

Download the app and take a picture of your potential purchase - clever software, or even an on-hand expert, will assess the item, and suggest a value. Should the vendor disagree, a secondary feature will let your smartphone barter for you in the local language - and even tell you when to walk away.

Perhaps this one's a bit hopeful...

Drinking fountains

Some airports, and even a few airlines, now supply fliers with free drinking water, but why not make it mandatory? It would put an end to fliers being forced to fork out $5 for a bottle of Highland Spring.

Image courtesy of Getty

Universal hotel remotes

No more faffing with your confusing hotel remote - or awkward visits from local handymen sent to fix your DVD player only to discover you're trying to turn it on using the remote for the air con.

Instead, make all hotel remotes standardised - learn one, and you know them all.


This article was written by Oliver Smith from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.