All posts in “travel”

This futuristic luggage lock doesn’t need any keys

Image: AirBolt

Everyone’s worst nightmare (other than being back in middle school) is losing their luggage or worse, having something stolen from a checked bag. Travel locks are more popular than ever, but not all locks work well. In fact, many can be cut easily and there’s always the possibility you’ll lose the key. 

That’s why you need to invest in a lock that’s actually useful, like the AirBolt Smart Travel Lock.

Unlike other TSA-compliant locks, AirBolt works by syncing to your phone, so you can lock and unlock it with the push of a button using an iOS or Android device. 

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Here are just a few of its useful features:

Connected to an app

AirBolt’s lock is a traveler’s best friend. It connects to your smartphone so you can unlock it using an app and a Bluetooth connection. The location tracking means you’ll never lose track of your luggage, and you can even get alerts to notify you if your luggage moves. If you forgot to tie an obnoxious ribbon on your luggage and it looks similar to everyone else’s black bag, you can use the app to ping your luggage. 

Extremely secure (but TSA-compliant)

You can even set a security PIN to prevent unauthorized access to your luggage in case your phone gets stolen. But it’s not a bulky or overbearing device. In fact, AirBolt won the 2017 Good Design Award from Good Design Australia because of its aesthetic appeal. Plus, if you accidentally unlock it from your phone, the AirBolt will re-lock itself if it’s not removed. Welcome to the future.

Shared access

If you’re traveling with friends or family, you can give everyone access to the app so you won’t be the only one managing the luggage situation. If something smells fishy, you can also check the lock’s access history within the app. 

Durable and versatile

The AirBolt comes with a micro USB cable so you can always make sure your lock is juiced up. It’s even weather-resistant if you’re an adventurous traveler who tends to throw their bag around a lot. Plus, why restrict your AirBolt to travel? You can use it to lock up sensitive items around your home or office easily. 

If you’re interested in picking up an AirBolt Smart Travel Lock, they’re usually $79.95 — but we have them 31% off in the Mashable Shop right now for just $54.99.

Babierge might just be the answer to your baby gear travel nightmares

Traveling with a baby for the holidays? First you’ve got your own gear to worry about, then a stroller, something for the baby to sleep in like a bassinet or pack n’ play, a baby carrier, toys, snacks, a diaper bag, possibly a car seat and whatever else the plane might allow you to shove into the overhead compartment or check at the gate. Then you’ve got to soothe and entertain the little one so everyone on the plane doesn’t hate you. the struggle. is. real.

But one startup out of New Mexico hopes to at least take care of the gear portion of your personal travel nightmare. Babierge (think baby+concierge) is a baby gear rental marketplace where, instead of lugging everything around with you from city to city, you can rent baby cribs, strollers and whatever else you’ll need from individuals wherever you go.

It’s also a way for families, called “trusted partners” to make an extra bit of cash for the baby gear they already have.

It works like this: those needing baby gear log onto the site and choose the destination city they’ll be traveling to. From there, you’ll see the family willing to rent and the equipment they have to offer listed below. Choose what you need and then select the dates you’ll need the equipment. From there you’ll see if the gear is available and the total price depending on how many days you want to rent. If all looks good you can check out and arrange for delivery wherever you may be in town.

© Nancee E. Lewis/San Diego Union-Tribune via ZUMA Wire

It’s conceivable the company could go beyond baby gear at some point. This month, some on the site are even offering holiday packages beyond baby gear such as delivery of a full-bodied faux pine Christmas tree that comes pre-lit with 300 mini-white & 300 mini-colored lights or a Menorah with candles and matches. However, given the name and focus the site isn’t likely to branch out further than a few of these one-offs.

Still, its growth is a testament to fulfilling a need in the market. According to Maier, Babierge has served about 5,000 traveling families this year, fulfilling more than 400 orders during Thanksgiving alone.

The company launched a mere 18 months ago and so far covers more than 100 markets in the U.S. and Canada. Babierge co-founder Fran Maier also tells TechCrunch Babierge is adding about 5 new markets a week — and all that on very little funding of about $500,000 from friends and family so far.

Of course, activity is going to spike around big family travel days like Thanksgiving and Christmas and Babierge will need to figure out how to sustain sales and revenue throughout the year. It’s also seen fast adoption from those wanting to rent their goods in several markets and will likely need more cash to help it safely scale.

Maier told TechCrunch she expects to get to about 6,000 orders by year’s end and has considered raising from venture capital or “wood for the fire” for next year.

In a way, the startup is a bit like Airbnb in the early days, but on a niche, baby scale. Still, it’s able to learn from those who’ve gone before and I’m told it does offer liability insurance to ensure no harm comes to either party in the process.

Or perhaps it’s more like a Craigslist. Trusted partners choose the pick up and delivery details and list their pictures, emails and phone numbers on the site. Babierge will need to scramble that contact info or create a messaging system to prevent unscrupulous individuals from abuse.

But Babierge says it also offers required safety and cleanliness training for all partners and is a good way for stay-at-home moms to earn a little extra cash for used baby items. The average partner makes about $600 per month, according to the startup.

Overall, it seems like a pretty useful idea and without much competition, excepting one company out of Colorado called Babies Away, which offers similar rental services in about 80 locations throughout the U.S.

“But they haven’t changed,” Maier says. Though Babies Away, which has been in business since 199, does offer more equipment on the site.

But it doesn’t come with the same personal touch or family friendly feel as Babierge. There’s no Christmas tree delivery, for instance.

It’s also not geared towards moms hoping to make a few extra bucks on extra gear. Babies Away partners run their shops like a straight up business.

But it’s a niche industry, either way. Parents (and grandparents and other family members hosting the parents) don’t need to rent gear all the time. Just a few time a year when families are traveling. Still, Babierge fills a definite need for those not wanting to lug their entire nursery with them around this time of year and i’m glad it’s around as I’ll be joining this special lot in the next few months.

Featured Image: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Airbnb might actually make virtual reality useful

Image: carl court/Getty Images

Airbnb thinks virtual reality could one day help you plan, and survive, your vacation. 

As tacky as that sounds, this could actually be a really good use of VR. 

Airbnb is making changes. Airbnb’s CEO, Brian Chesky, told Mashable that the new Airbnb hopes to immerse its guests — to connect them not just with accommodations, but with destinations and experiences. 

Last November the rental company launched its Trips feature, allowing travelers to organize their vacations in addition to renting rooms, via the Airbnb app. The update allowed users to book restaurants, find experiences and events in nearby communities, and read reviews. 

The next step in a vacation-rental app’s quest to become your go-to travel-booking company: integrating augmented and virtual reality into your travel experience. 

Airbnb claims it will soon provide 3D scans of rental options to give prospective renters a better sense of the space they’re renting. Further down the line, the company predicts, it may provide a virtual reality platform to allow travelers to explore potential destinations and plan vacations remotely.

During your vacation, Airbnb hopes augmented reality can make a real-time translation tool — you could open the app and see labels on the objects around you. Or, it could help you pull up information and history about the objects and locations around you — perhaps you could point your camera at a building and get its name (in the local language), history, and reviews floating in the air.   

But will Airbnb follow through on these promises? 

It’s unclear. The company’s announcement is full of hopeful, broad sentiments: Phrases like “experimenting with,” “looking at ways to,” and “building tools for” give Airbnb a lot of wiggle room. The press release contains no concrete proposals, plans, or (most importantly) projected release dates. 

Augmented reality apps and VR platforms are often ambitious, and begin with lofty goals: to change the way we people live their lives or interact with devices. When Facebook launched its social VR platform, Spaces, this past April, Rachel Franklin, its head of social VR, claimed that the product would “transform the way people around the world stay connected with their communities and those closest to them.” So far, however, reviewers have emerged from the platform with skepticism, and the company still struggles to sell enough Oculus headsets to make the product a viral success. 

This isn’t to say that Airbnb’s VR ambitions are necessarily destined for the same fate. Unlike the broad goal of “socializing” which new generations constantly reinterpret and redefine across platforms, all travelers can point to concrete shared grievances (such as language barriers, getting lost, trouble finding a trustworthy host) which AR and VR could certainly help to solve. The question of whether Airbnb’s platform will be effective at doing this — and whether the solution will be more innovative than kitschy — is one we can’t answer until we have more information.  

But while it’s a bit early to celebrate Airbnb as an innovator in VR and AR, as the platforms struggle to find a foothold in the gaming and social markets, it’s encouraging to see companies seeing promise in the medium as they look to expand their audience and influence. 1d0d aa50%2fthumb%2f00001