With New Technology, Innovation And Sheer Creativity, Family Travel Has Never Been Simpler!
Guest Post by Gareth Simpson.
Gareth Simpson is a technical SEO & Startup Founder. He is an SEO pro with over a decade in the industry. Once a digital nomad but now based in Bristol, UK, his specialisms are blogger outreach and content. You’ll find him at his desk, presiding over campaigns for a range of established and emerging businesses. Follow him on Twitter.
Looking back to just a few decades ago, planning a family holiday would probably have involved a visit to your local travel agent or setting off with a trusty guidebook and a handful of local recommendations. Now, digital technology and high-speed internet has opened up a vast range of choice, opportunities and information. A family holiday can be almost entirely planned, booked and managed online, through the help of all sorts of innovative travel applications and businesses. There are all kinds of ways to make travelling with young children easier and more stress-free, from getting through the airport to travelling across cities. Much like a group holiday, there’s lots to organize.
Here are 7 creative businesses that are improving and easing family travel as we know it.
INNOVATIVE BUSINESS #1
Airbnb. Online lodging marketplace Airbnb has taken the travel industry by storm, helping travellers to see a new side to the places they visit, often in a more cost-effective way. Since its launch in 2008, several other similar companies have also sprung up, such as One Fine Stay. Airbnb allows you to book space in a private house or apartment, whether that’s a the whole place to yourself, or a room in a shared house. If you’re staying somewhere for a week or more, it’s nice to come back and relax in a place that feels like home each day.
Hosts are carefully vetted and reviewed, so it’s easy to find a safe and comfortable place to stay. With kids running around, sometimes it’s more convenient to stay in a self-catered home than it is to stay in a hotel – which is often more expensive. You might not necessarily want to eat out all the time, so having your own kitchen gives you the flexibility to eat in on occasion too. This is especially useful if you have a baby or a child with allergies.
You also get the benefit of local knowledge – most Airbnb hosts are local residents who are only too happy to provide suggestions for things to do and see. While the concept of staying in a stranger’s home is not a particularly new one, Airbnb has facilitated easy access and much more choice. Check the host overview and reviews to find out whether a property is suitable for you – most will have a policy on children and pets.
INNOVATIVE BUSINESS #2
TripIt. Keeping hold of all of your various details and documentation while travelling with your family can become a bit of a nightmare. How often have you found yourself digging around in various bags of luggage with one arm trying to find that hotel reservation or car rental confirmation, while holding onto a small child with the other?
TripIt is a free app that keeps all of your travel plans organised in one place, including all confirmation codes and emails. From this, it creates a master itinerary that will keep you on track, with real-time alerts that will help you to bag the best seats on the plane, or schedule an alternative flight if yours is delayed. You can choose to selectively share your whole itinerary (or just specific travel plans) with friends, family, or colleagues.
The app is free, but you can also opt to upgrade to a more comprehensive version (without ads) for $4.09 per month. This version gives you additional benefits including flight refund notifications, reward points tracking, and VIP luxuries.
INNOVATIVE BUSINESS #3
Hello Scout. We all have those friends who put questions out there on Facebook at the last minute: fun things to do in Amsterdam, anyone? Off to Bali, who has recommendations? We trust the advice of people we know, but we may not always get the flurry of responses we hope for.
This is where Hello Scout can be super helpful. Wouldn’t you like to have your own personal travel assistant? With their mantra ‘more fun, less planning’, Hello Scout hooks you up with real local experts who will recommend and even book personalised activities for you and your family. Even better, the service is free – but a modest tip is included when a service or activity is booked. Unlike TripAdvisor, which is a reviews site, Hello Scout is like having a concierge who is just a text away.
INNOVATIVE BUSINESS #4
Revolut. Depending on where you are in the world, you will likely always need a little bit of local currency on hand for those emergency necessities like handy wipes, snacks and sunblock. But when exchanging currency, it’s always a guess as to how much you’ll need, and requires research to find the best exchange rates. It’s much easier to pay by credit card abroad than it used to be, but you always run the risk of overseas charges or being blocked by your bank for ‘unusual activity’.
A neat solution to this problem was designed in 2015 by founders Nikolay Storonsky and Vladyslav Yatsenko with their global banking app, Revolut. Linked up to a prepaid Mastercard, the app allows users to track and spend in 23 different currencies – all at the best possible exchange rates. Users can choose to make payments using their phone, or apply for a physical card. Transferring money is also made simple, and can be done easily via email, SMS or WhatsApp. Ideal for families who want to spend securely and without hassle as they travel from place to place, or for teenagers to take with them for emergencies when they are out on their own.
INNOVATIVE BUSINESS #5
Uber & Grab. If you’ve ever tried in vain to hail a cab in a busy metropolitan city, or spent 30-40 minutes stood waiting for a bus that never comes, then you’ll understand that inner city travel can be confusing at best, and perilous at worst. Even worse is when you do manage to grab that taxi, only to be greeted with an obscenely large bill on the other end. It’s for this reason that many of us, families and individuals alike, now choose to use apps like Uber and Grab.
Uber now serves 300 cities across 6 continents. You can check out the full list to see if it applies to your destination. With its GPS journey plan and online payment system, no cash is required and your route is fully tracked. All drivers are identified and rated (much like hosts with Airbnb) and once you pinpoint your location, they come straight you – no need to hail them down or search for the nearest taxi rank. Ideal if you plan on exploring a larger city with less desirable public transport, or if you prefer not to carry cash on you.
Likewise, Grab runs on a similar premise and is very big throughout Asia. It’s usually cheaper than Uber (being more about convenience than luxury) and gives you the option to pay with card or cash – whichever you prefer.
INNOVATIVE BUSINESS #6
Trunki. When you’re travelling with kids in tow, most of us will do what we can to make the trip more fun and stress-free for them – particularly at the airport or during a flight. If your family travels frequently then you’ve probably already seen the popular Trunki kids’ suitcases around – they’re the cute, brightly coloured ones that kids can sit on and ride when they get tired. It’s genius.
Trunki comes from humble beginnings. It created its website using a simple DIY online store builder back in 2006 after appearing on BBC2’s Dragon’s Den. Trunki’s simple solutions for kids’ travel have given countless parents an easier time of it while navigating airports. If your children are younger – around 3-6 – you can whizz through the airport terminals, as well as use them to stash spare clothes and toys should you need entertainment or an emergency change. There is a handy carry strap too, in case you ever need to carry it yourself.
INNOVATIVE BUSINESS #7
Postagram. Last but not least, this fun and simple app enables you to send a physical postcard featuring a photo from your smartphone – all you pay is $1 for a stamp. To send your first Postagram, you do the following:
- Download the app and create an account through the Apple Store or Google Play
- Add the recipient’s address to your address book
- Click “Create a Postagram”
- Select your photo and adjust the position
- Type in a personal message
- Select one or more recipients
- Check the preview
- Confirm and send
Friends and family love to receive postcards, but there’s something pretty special about a non-generic postcard that actually features your loved ones having the time of their lives. Say goodbye to cheesy postcards and hello to fun family memories!
It’s clear that new businesses and technology are already shaping the travel experience in all sorts of ways. Over the next few years, travellers and families will likely come to see an increasingly personalised range of services that will make the holiday experience safer and easier, taking into account their likes and dislikes. Do you have experience of using any of the listed travel products or services? Let us know your thoughts about them below.