The majority of China's lonely hearts are men. This goes against evolutionary trends, since women have held a slight majority worldwide since records have been kept. But the country's one-child policy, and some Chinese parents' determination to make sure that child is male, results in a 13:12 ratio of males to females, creating a surplus of tens of millions of men.
So, in an inspired move, Chinese websites began promoting "Singles Day" on Nov. 11, suggesting that if couples have Valentine's Day, it's only fair that singles should have a day during which they can buy themselves a present, guilt-free. A new watch, perhaps, will assuage loneliness.
The response was overwhelming. This year, more than $5.7 billion was spent on China's Singles Day, making last week's record-breaking Cyber Monday total of $1.5 billion -- presumably spent on gifts for others -- seem a bit ho-hum.
Apparently, people need only a little encouragement to turn the giving spirit inward. So in that same inward-giving spirit, I hereby grant you, my readers, permission to indulge yourselves with the purchase of a travel-related item of your choice this holiday season.
Need justification? Perhaps you deserve it in compensation for all the time you've spent standing in lines (check-in, security, boarding) as you travel.
Or, if you print your own boarding passes, use kiosks, carry on your bags and enrolled in Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, you should self-gift as a reward for being a smart traveler.
Either way: Permission granted.
While I'm in such a generous mood, I also grant myself permission to buy more travel paraphernalia. When it comes to buying presents for myself, I'm always open to suggestion, so feel free to leave an online comment or send me an email.
And if you need starter ideas, here are a few things I've found that make travel more organized, secure and fun. Two were offered to me in the hope that I would mention them (they are asterisked). Others I found on my own.
All impressed me.
1) Pickpocket-proof fashion.* A company called Clothing Arts (clothingarts.com) produces shirts and pants with an array of buttons and zippers designed to frustrate the most determined thief.
They do require a bit of memorization; you'll want to keep straight which pocket holds your phone, wallet or small camera since it takes a moment or two to unbutton, unzip or unsnap when it's time to retrieve something. I took them for a test-walk through the souk in Marrakech and returned with everything intact.
2) Briggs & Riley Deluxe Garment Bag. My boss teases me for being "old school" and lugging a wheel-less hanging bag, but I defy anyone to find a carry-on that can hold more (and keep everything wrinkle-free). Pockets, attachments and compartments galore. (Note: Strong back required. It weighs 13 pounds, empty.) Gate agents eye it warily, but I've yet to have to check it.
3) Galileo by Motrr.* This little robot works with an app called Sphere to take iPhone photos that are not just panoramic but spherical. It moves the phone in a pattern that produces stunning travel photography, capturing everything between (and including) earth and sky. Using code motrrsphere at http://inside.thesphere.com/motrr will get you a 15% discount through Dec. 31.
The Sphere photo below was taken with a Galileo by Motrr last week at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, site of the U.S. Tour Operators Association conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. Travel Weekly Editor in Chief Arnie Weissmann is seated; major league pitcher David Aardsma is standing. (To move the image, hold down left-click and move the mouse; on a touchscreen, move it with your finger.)
4.) Bill of Rights Security Edition. The magician/comedians Penn & Teller sell the first 10 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution on a small steel card (pennandtellerstore.com). If you carry it in your pocket, it will set off airport metal detectors, providing you the symbolic opportunity to literally surrender your rights to the Transportation Security Administration.
"Amendment IV" (against unreasonable search and seizure) is highlighted in red.
Hand it over with a jolly ho, ho, ho.
Email Arnie Weissmann at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter.