This trip has really highlighted for me the drastic ways in which travel has changed in recent years. Not that it happened all at once — there's been a series of nudges that, summed together, create an entirely different travel experience, from beginning to end.
It starts with Renee's parents. They hadn't flown in years, so, last week, we set them up with the Delta app on their phones. I had really taken the convenience of etickets for granted a simple question from them - "are you sure we don't have to print these out?" - highlighted it to me.
Lodging? Yep, totally different. In Cambridge, we opted for an Airbnb instead of a hotel. This was my first Airbnb experience. We didn't really know what to expect on arrival as far as cleanliness, supplies, etc., which is one of the downsides of Airbnb as I see it (I pretty much know what to expect when I book a room at a Hilton or a Marriott, even if I've never been there before). But, we got an entire house, which was perfect for the size of our party and better than any combination of multiple hotel rooms would have been. And cheaper. And closer to Jonathan's dorm. And. And. And.
We used Uber to get around town during our visit. And not just for going from point A to point B, that's not really new. We did use it in a new way for us, though. Renee's mom gets tired after walking a bit, and the uneven sidewalks of Cambridge certainly didn't help that. So we told her — do what you can, and when you're ready, let us know and we'll get an Uber to take you back (to the Airbnb). I'm not sure she could have done this trip — to visit her grandson at Harvard for the first time — without this option. That's powerful, and really underscores the impact of some of the ways in which travel has changed.
And the food! Yes, we ate at some local restaurants. But, with long days of walking around campus, the option of having food delivered to our Airbnb was too convenient to resist. And not just traditionally delivered options like pizza. We had donuts and bagels delivered for breakfast, and Chinese food delivered for dinner. And, yes, pizza. But here's the thing with that — we weren't limited to the pizza joints that happened to offer delivery to our location. In fact, we didn't even think to search for a pizza place based on that criteria. Instead, we went straight to the website of Jonathan's favorite pizza place — Pinocchio's — and checked for delivery options. DoorDash for the win! So the entire family got to relax and visit with Jonathan, eating his favorite pizza in the comfort of a living room.
Entertainment? Well, we went to the Harvard v. Cornell hockey game on Friday night, which was a fairly traditional experience (Uber rides to and fro notwithstanding). And the Crimson won in dramatic fashion, which was great. On Saturday evening, as we ate our DoorDash-delivered Chinese food in our Airbnb living room, we realized the Crimson were playing again, this time against Colgate. We had so much fun the night before that we actually had a somewhat serious discussion about going again, but then realized we could stream it from the ESPN+ app onto the AppleTV in the living room. Ivy League hockey on the big screen in the living room while eating delivered takeout, all with family while visiting with Jonathan (and celebrating his 20th birthday, btw)...that moment, that evening, just could not have been a better experience (maybe if we had realized white rice is a separate menu item that needs to be ordered alongside the entrees...practical knowledge for next time!).
It's pretty remarkable when you think about it. A series of little changes, each quite innovative in its own lane, have suddenly congealed to revolutionize travel in a way that changes the experience for the better. They expand it, really. I think we've entered a new era of travel experiences, and I'm looking forward to the trip.
post published in /2021/11/07