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I’m With the Gnome

Never mind being a bodyguard to Britney Spears or part of the burgeoning Jolie-Pitt clan, if you want a little attention when you’re out and about, try traveling with the Travelocity Roaming Gnome.

On my flight back to San Francisco yesterday, I had a very special companion in my hand luggage–an 18-inch garden gnome in a pointy red hat, who couldn’t have attracted more glances, stares, and chuckles if he’d tried. Normally, in the face of such blatant public scrutiny, I would have run straight to the restroom to check my teeth for spinach or my shoes for errant spools of toilet paper, wondering why everyone from kids in strollers to 89-year-old grandmothers had executed a double take as I passed. But with the Roaming Gnome tucked under my arm I quickly became accustomed to the attention. The little fellow’s a legend after all. He’s used to being recognized.

No Place Like Gnome

I’ve got one. You’ve probably got one. Pretty much every high schooler in the entire country has one, even if they’d rather their parents didn’t see the various party photos they regularly upload to it (I’m sure the feeling’s mutual.)

I’m talking about the MySpace profile, that reigning bastion of social networking that connects strangers with other strangers and then turns them into friends. With more than 100 million users, MySpace is currently the fifth most popular website in the world–third most popular in the U.S.–and a profile page on the site has long been a must-have accessory for any well-connected denizen of the Internet.

And now guess who else has got their own little space on MySpace? Why, Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome, of course.

Walk This Way

While I don’t discount the efficiency of the subway or the ease of hailing a cab, I’ve always thought the best way to discover a new city was by walking. I’ve hoofed it through Hanoi, sauntered around Shanghai, and pounded the pavement in Paris. And since I’m likely to be both on a budget and indulging in a host of new gastronomic delicacies when traveling, it certainly doesn’t hurt that walking is not only free but also excellent exercise.