Travel has become more inconvenient than enjoyable. The packing, the commute to the airport, and the long security checkpoint lines – all before you board. Even the planning of a family getaway is an arduous task. For many, it’s enough to put off that vacation and stay home instead.
Luckily, there are travel tools designed to make travel less of a hassle. Hate to pack? There’s a service that eliminates packing forever. Don’t know where to eat or what to see? Let an app plan your daily itineraries. Too lazy to carry luggage? Send it off in advance. Check out these simple ways to put your next trip on cruise control.
Rather than hauling luggage with you, ship it instead. This way, you can travel light while your clothes and other non-essentials await you at your destination. Using a service like FedEx or UPS lets you track it to ensure it actually reaches your in-laws’ house or hotel (just make sure an authorized person is there to receive it). The key is to ship well in advance of your trip, using the cheaper “ground” option. Depending on the luggage weight, the cost could be equivalent to what an airline charges, but any premium would be worth the sanity you save during busy travel seasons.
Besides FedEx and UPS, service providers include SendMyBag.com and Baggage Quest.
Skip the baggage claim
Some airlines, like American and United, offer a luggage delivery option that delivers your bags to your final destination, letting you bypass baggage claim. So, instead of rushing to the hotel to put away luggage, you can jumpstart your sightseeing tour instead.
Never pack again
Packing is the bane of all travelers – particular those who travel often. DUFL lets you eliminate this step by storing your travel attire remotely and delivering it when needed. Here’s how it works: DUFL sends suitcases to users, who fill them with the clothes they would wear while traveling; the suitcases then get sent back to DUFL’s warehouse. DUFL inventories the items, including photographing and cleaning them. Prior to their trips, users, using the DUFL app, pick the clothes they want delivered to their destination. When it’s time to leave, it’s as simple as attaching the provided shipping label, and your clothes will be returned to the warehouse for cleaning and storing. The storage service costs $10 a month, while delivery and pickup costs $99 per trip.
Feeling lucky? Use Google
Want to travel, but not sure where? Google Flights can give you some suggestions with the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. Like the familiar search feature, pressing the button (found in the “Explore map” view) generates itineraries as exotic as Cancun, Mexico or, uh, Buffalo, New York. Adding in travel dates, pricing, and other parameters helps Google whittle down the list. While seemingly random, Google is monitoring real-time info to deliver that information.
Let a bot handle it
If travel planning is a chore, leave it to artificial intelligence. We don’t mean just flight bookings, but the entire itinerary – hotels and restaurants, as well as recommendations on what to see. Mezi, a shopping assistant app, is leveraging bots as full-service virtual travel agents that can “handle all aspects of travel requests, including booking, rescheduling, and cancellation,” as well as activities like concert and restaurant reservations. Through conversations, the bots can learn about the users’ preferences and tailor a trip accordingly, down to where the user likes to sit on a plane. According to Mezi, the bots, through natural language, can “generate personalized recommendations for hotels and flights in less than two minutes, and handle 80 percent of common travel requests” without human assistance, although during one search the app asked for 15 to 20 minutes to get back to us.
But when it comes to app-based automation, Mezi isn’t the only player: Google’s new Trips app is designed to help you plan a day or half-day of activities, with suggestions that help you discover what’s cool and nearby – museum tours, restaurants, landmarks, etc. It also organizes all of your travel information from Gmail and other email inboxes, so you can easily find them in one place. While it doesn’t involve conversing with a bot, Trips does use big data and A.I. to tailor the itineraries to each user. Other similar A.I. services to watch out for include Taylor, Facebook Messenger, Hipmunk, and Kayak, with more to come.