PSFK examines how new services are being designed to relieve stress and make traveling more enjoyable and productive
If you could plan the perfect trip, how would it look? Perhaps you already have somewhere in mind or a person to visit. Or maybe you would prefer to just get a one-way ticket and figure it out when you get there. Either way, the first thing that comes to mind is probably not how you might get stuck in line somewhere, or worrying about getting a low price on your airfare. However, the excitement of going away on a trip can often be disrupted by the stresses associated with the travel experience. Whether it is lengthy check-ins, long security lines, fumbling with foreign currencies or trying to find a suitable place to stay, there are many steps along the way that can go wrong. Until recently, unless you could afford to pay a premium, these were the unavoidable realities that awaited you upon booking a ticket.
Thankfully, a new set of products and services are working on enhancing the experience, taking away the headaches and letting us focus on the truly rewarding aspects of travel. With the arrival of mobile, social and wearable technologies, every level of traveler is getting access to a host of new services and luxuries that are designed to make all trips more enjoyable and productive. So whether you’re in the midst of planning where to go, zipping along on a train, cruising at 30,000 feet or arriving at your destination, you can now expect to be supported every step of the way.
Part of what can make travel exciting is the spontaneity: the ability to just catch the nearest bus or train, pick a destination and figure it out when you get there. In response to this mobile devices are being transformed into always-on travel assistants, ready at your side to buy a ticket on-the-go, find a place to stay or even discover the sights and sounds around you. Here are some of our favorite recent examples that are doing the most to improve the travel experience:
Concerned your luggage didn’t make it along with you? eTag is an electronic luggage tag system that helps both airlines and travelers track the whereabouts of checked baggage in real-time. The system connects two e-ink displays attached to the outside of a suitcase to a phone-sized device placed inside. GSM, GPS and Bluetooth technology work to keep both airline systems and travelers’ mobile devices up to date as bags move between check-in, boarding, transfers and baggage claim. The app lets users continually monitor the whereabouts of their bag from their phone, so they never have to worry about whether their bag was able to make that tight connection.
If you would prefer not to pack any luggage at all, Packnada is a Singapore-based clothing care, storage and delivery service that allows people who travel regularly to leave their clothes behind at frequented destinations. At the end of a trip, travelers arrange pickups online, leave their clothing at the hotel and fly home luggage-free. Packnada professionally launders and stores the clothing, delivering fresh, clean clothes in time for the next visit. Travelers eliminate packing time and planning, skip long check-in queues, save on transport fees and more nimbly navigate their way to and from the airport.
Once you have made the trip and landed in an unfamiliar city you can pull up Pixifly, an iOS application that lets people search public Instagram photos within a handy map interface. A location-based alternative to content navigation by hashtags, the app provides a glimpse on the cool things that are happening in your area. If you are planning ahead, you can also search terms by date and time, so as to check out what’s hot during key seasons, recent weeks and specific hours, or in real time while on the go. For travelers keen to familiarize themselves with the character of one neighborhood or another, or compare one venue to another, the app provides a quick on-the-ground view of the best spots to check out once they reach their destination.
As digital technologies such as these become more closely integrated into people’s everyday lifestyles, it’s not a stretch to believe that a fully connected and personalized door-to-door experience is possible in the near future. What these offer is more than just a service, but rather the opportunity for travelers to unburden themselves from the stress and worry of logistics, allowing more time to focus on the rewarding aspects of travel and open themselves up to the joy that spontaneity provides.
Header image credit: Airhelp