Thanks to little things like globalization and the internet, the world is feeling smaller and more connected—and that can require a lot of air travel. These days, we’re all over the map, whether it’s for work or wanderlust. And while it’s amazing that we can cross the globe in less than a day, the romance of flight kinda comes to a screeching halt when you’re waiting in your socks while your belongings run through an X-ray machine.
Air travel is an industry ripe for disruption. Many companies and travel bloggers are taking steps to solve some of the most common frustrations in packing, traveling, and surviving long layovers. Some airports have even undergone amazing transformations to incorporate fine dining, yoga rooms, and even indoor surfing. (Seriously.) With these accessories and services, you’ll be flying easy the whole way.
BEFORE YOU GO
If you care about your stuff, you should invest in a decent luggage companion. This carry-on sized bag is small enough to fit into most overhead compartments, but boasts a multitude of impressive features to make it sufficient for any trip. The Away carry-on suitcase includes a two-part, spacious interior that fits all your travel must-haves, with an attached nylon laundry bag for any dirty items that need to be separated from the clean stuff. A sturdy case lets it stay safe through some travel bumps, and the built-in, TSA-approved combination lock keeps your things out of the wrong hands. Got a few hours? Charge your smartphone or tablet with the USB port. You didn’t even know suitcases could do this much, did you?
When you’re juggling a suitcase, a messenger bag, and a coffee, it would be nice to have a flat place to put things down when you to need to grab your wallet. So why are most suitcases rounded at the top? The impeccable design of the Samsara suitcase features a level surface, which makes a handy desk or shelf whenever you need it. Really makes you wonder why we didn’t have it all along. If your phone or tablet starts running low from all that work (or passing-the-hours-waiting-for-a-flight) time, charge them up to ten times with the savvy USB port. The suitcase is made out of the same extra-durable material used to build planes (how meta!), so you know your case won’t get crushed mid-flight. And thieves, beware: Built-in sensors send notifications to your phone if your suitcase leaves your side or is opened without your knowledge.
ARRIVING AT THE AIRPORT
Security lines are no joke. Nothing drains your energy more than tacking on an extra hour of travel time just to stand in a winding line, and shuffle through an X-ray machine in your socks. Even TSA pre-check can have a considerable crowd these days. Fortunately, there’s a new name cropping up in airports across the country: Clear. It’s perfect for those of us who hate shuffling to get our boarding pass and driver’s license in one hand while lugging our stuff in the other. With Clear, you don’t even need your ID—simply check in with your fingerprint or a retina scan and sail through security in five minutes or less. (Is this the robot future we’ve been told about?)
Nothing puts a dark cloud over the day like lost luggage. Connecting flights and identical suitcases can wreak havoc on your travel zen. When you just can’t afford a time-consuming snafu, invest in a Trakdot. This compact device sits in your suitcase and transmits location information to your phone. If your plane lands at LAX but your bag ends up at SFO, you’ll know soon after you land. Instead of waiting for an airplane agent to solve the puzzle, you can coordinate a transfer right away.
AT THE AIRPORT
Even as airports add better dining options and feature art installations, most still aren’t enough to comfortably survive a four-hour layover or flight delay. Where’s a weary traveler supposed to curl up for the day? Find your haven with LoungeBuddy, the app that lets you buy day passes to tons of airport lounges. Many offer complimentary WiFi, cocktails, printers, and even showers, so you’re covered for any want or need. Reading the newspaper with a drink in hand? Almost more relaxing than being at home.
Airport lounges sure are comfortable, but they’re still not an ideal place to get some shut-eye. Take a stand against jet lag and find yourself some z’s. Some merciful airports are introducing sleeping pods, which give travelers a fantastic nap spot by the hour. Check for names like Minute Suites and GoSleep at airports around the world. Just need a nap? Rent a GoSleep Pod for as low as $14/hour. Staying the night? Book it for $65. It’s a dream come true.
ARRIVING AT YOUR DESTINATION
Zipcar at Airports
You’re ready to go the second the plane hits the ground. You grab your carry-on, check your seatback pocket, and embrace the newfound freedom of walking—until you hit your next obstacle. Hours of sitting don’t exactly prepare you for waiting in line at the car rental counter.
Lucky for you, Zipcars live at airports across the globe, so you can use the same, simple routine of reserving, tapping to unlock, and driving away. No clipboards, no paperwork, and no mad dash for a decently priced gas station right outside the airport. (You still gotta leave ¼ tank, though.) If you’re in a city with one-way zipping, you’ve got wheels from the airport to your hotel, meeting, or just for sightseeing along the way. They’re also the perfect getaway cars for really long layovers.