The Trip Chicks teleseminar "Insider Secrets of the Travel Experts" is now online. Anyone with an hour to spare can listen to me enthuse about inflatable neck pillows. At length.
The inevitable packing-tip question arose, which was problematic (beyond "roll your clothes" most travel writers begin mumbling). Truthfully? I'm rubbish at loading luggage. What I excel at is travel and observation and expression. Silly, silly me.
Oh, I've picked up a few tricks, sure: plug adapters, prescriptions in the carryon, notifying credit cards before travel (and checking for currency-conversion fees, a nasty new practice). But the one truly brilliant bit of advice I have, no one wants to hear.
Those neck pillows the $7 generic jobbies from the airport newsstands are my secret weapons. I slip into sleep, vertebrae cushioned from the dread "whiplash awake" head bob. I nap so thoroughly, my reputation for slumber irritates companions and colleagues alike (I even dozed through the much-chronicled Smurf Ass episode on Royal Jordanian, no mean feat given the size, hue-saturation and sheer bulk of this massif).
Take heart, amici miei: I'm more at risk of deep-vein thrombosis for not roaming the cabin or pulsing my glutes enough. That's right. Forget booty dancing. These days the wiggle is all about bum-burning workouts at 35,000 feet.
But back to the neck pillow, a piece of leisure-industry genius. I haven't even explored its finest aspect: when you're wearing what appears to be an inflatable toilet-seat cover around your neck, no one speaks to you.
Privacy is pretty much guaranteed, because fellow passengers assume you are insane and spend the entire flight waiting for your shoes to smolder, instead of detailing Aunt Millie's bingo triumph or Lil' Giuseppe's third-most articulated burp.
Neck pillows: companions of the not-so-rich and famous, the must-have jet-set accessory of 2006. Remember, you read it here first...