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Software Eats Travel: Discoveries from a regular coast-hopper

As a frequent (very frequent) traveler, I’ve lately come to very much appreciate how technology has changed how I travel. I have been flying back and forth from Louisville to Silicon Valley for over 15 years. During that decade and a half, travel has gotten infinitely easier. Don’t get me wrong, racking up the miles still has its share of hassles. But the mobile web is really mitigating them and is changing the way I approach my monthly trips to the bay area.

Dufl: Software Eats Packing

Until you don’t have to do it anymore, you don’t realize how annoying packing, unpacking, and transporting suitcases are. I discovered the Dufl service about a year ago, and those headaches have disappeared.

Dufl allows you to upload your work wardrobe to the cloud. Once you download the app, a large, beautiful suitcase is delivered to your home via FedEx. Fill it with all the items you’d normally take on a business trip and use the app to schedule a pickup. Once your clothes arrive at their warehouse, the Dufl team does a fabulous photoshoot of all your clothing and toiletries, then posts those photos in your own virtual closet on the app. When it comes time for a trip, select the items you want in the app, let Dufl know when and where you want your suitcase delivered, and you are done. The feeling of flying through the airport without a checked bag or a carry-on is strange at first. But it’s extremely liberating and easy to get used to. I just grab my briefcase and head out.

The feeling of flying through the airport without a checked bag or a carry-on is strange at first. But it’s extremely liberating and easy to get used to. I just grab my briefcase and head out.

Once you get to your destination, your bag is waiting for you there. (Depending on your hotel, it’s often already in your room.) And its not just some old suitcase stuffed with clothes. It’s a gorgeous, sturdy bag that has been meticulously packed by a very OCD, design oriented person, all carefully wrapped in pretty blue tissue paper and sealed with a silver sticker. There is usually a nice little surprise gift tucked inside as well. One trip they sent me some gourmet teas, one time some fuzzy socks.

When your trip draws to a close, throw all your dirty laundry back in the bag, attach the enclosed fedex sticker to the handle, and drop it off with the concierge. Use the app to let them know it’s time for a pickup. Your items are shipped back to the warehouse, laundered or dry cleaned, and stored until your next trip. No more coming home and dumping a bag of dirty clothes on the floor. No more unpacking. No more big dry cleaning bills. Simple as that.

Dufl costs $10/month for storage and $99/roundtrip. Considering checking a bag on most airlines costs an average of $30-$40 each way, it’s a pretty great deal. You just have to get used to someone else washing your clothes and packing for you. But that’s a concession I’m happy to make. They do it better than I do anyway.

Silvercar: Luxury for the Masses

After years of playing Russian roulette with rent-a-cars, often getting an awful little (sometimes smelly) car that I feared for my life driving down the freeway, I recently discovered the joys of Silvercar. The premise of Silvercar is simple: they only rent brand new Audi A4s. Silver ones. That’s pretty much it. On top of that, the price is typically about the same as I’d pay at other rental car companies.

The premise of Silvercar is simple: they only rent brand new Audi A4s. Silver ones. That’s pretty much it.

I have no idea how this company makes money or if they have a special deal with Audi, but I’m not questioning it. There’s never a line to rent from them, their concierge comes to pick you up at the rental car facility when you arrive at the airport. And of course, the entire rental process is done from their mobile app. Enter your profile once, schedule your trip, scan the barcode when you get to your car. Easy peasy. I’m loathe to even write about Silvercar here because I prefer them to be an undiscovered gem. But yes, you should definitely check them out.

Luxe: Parking, Schmarking

I admit it, after years of driving around the bay area, I still forget how bad the traffic is there. No matter how much time I give myself to get to a destination, it always takes at least 15 minutes longer. Driving in San Francisco is an added challenge, especially with all the construction going on in SOMA and the Financial District, where many of KBD clients have their offices. Looking for parking garages that aren’t full in the middle of the workday is an added challenge. Enter the Luxe app, a valet parking service that comes to you. Drive to your destination (or close to it, if you are stuck in traffic) and a uniformed Luxe messenger will meet you at your car on their Razor scooter, pop their scooter in your trunk, and drive your car to their parking garage for you. When you are ready to retrieve your car, let them know using your app and they’ll bring your car back to you. Thank god for technology.

Drive to your destination (or close to it, if you are stuck in traffic) and a uniformed Luxe messenger will meet you at your car on their Razor scooter, pop their scooter in your trunk, and drive your car to their parking garage for you.

So, today, on my first monthly sojourn to San Francisco of 2016, I woke up at dark o’clock, summoned a taxicab using a mobile app (so as not to wake up my family), scanned my boarding pass on my Delta app, flew through security with no bags thanks to the Dufl app, bought my coffee using my Starbucks app, got prepaid wi-fi using my Gogo app, called for my rental car concierge using my Silvercar app, and checked in to my hotel using my Marriott app. I’m not sure whether that sounds elitist, Orwellian, or fantastic. Maybe a combination of all three. In any case, modern travel with mobile web is definitely convenient and mostly hassle free. With the exception of the annoying guy sitting in front of me on this airplane. Is there an app for that?

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