Quality Hunters are again on the look out for better travel experiences. The concept is, in brief, to crowdsource great ideas related to air travel. The initiative is very much Finnish, the project involves Finnair and Helsinki Airport. The present QH 2013 is the third round of searching, QH 2 took place in 2011 and QH 1 in 2010.
This year, the approach is actually less thematic and more linear: we’re talking about time at home, at the airport, on board and on arrival. As of now discussion is at the first stage: at home. Where does travel experience begin? What is important before traveling?
I was just planning to drop a comment on their blog, but then, as usual, thoughts and words started flying and I had to write a blog post. It’s like getting a permission to dream about traveling AND talk about it aloud.
I heard on the radio today that from this April/May onwards, we can collect our new passports from R-kioski (link in FIN), the Finnish equivalent to a 7-Eleven. Previously, getting a new passport has been a dreadful, time-consuming effort involving lots of queuing at the police station. Maybe in the future you can have your passport delivered to R-kioski at the Helsinki airport (instead of the nearest R-kioski to your house)? Amazing innovation from a country who loves its officials.
Anyway, my passport is fine for a couple more years. The biggest task is always finding the passport before leaving.
For my travel plans, I nowadays mostly use SkyScanner and TripAdvisor. I particularly like using both apps with iPad. I don’t often use airline or airport websites, but when I do, the information I look for is almost always the airport floor and service plan in visual, downloadable or printable format. I need to see where I am, and besides, it’s crucial sometimes to know exactly where to turn right from, when you’re trying to make it on time to the next flight or trying to get out of the airport as fast as possible.
But my love for maps does not end at the airport. I love map services connected to all sorts of travel sites. It is important for me to see where I’m going, how’s the airport situated to the town, how’s the town situated to the country, how does public transport work etc.
I’ll share an example. Last December, I was traveling to Malta. As I’m a big fan of German Christmas markets, but did not want to fly to Germany only because of the market, I a) chose a return flight from Malta with a 4-5 hour layover in Frankfurt, b) checked the how, where and how long of public transportation from the airport to town, and c) checked the location of the nearest, most convenient Christmas market to the train station. End result: enjoying a few mugs of delicious mulled wine and stocking up on roasted almonds with zero haste.
Another example is from years back, but it’s a similar one. I was traveling to Brussels, and happened to notice an interesting concert in Paris around the same time. So I ended up securing a concert ticket in Paris first, and then booking a one-way flight to Brussels and a one-way flight back from Paris. A concert in La Cigale, one night in Pigalle. Great! Did you know the train connection between these two cities is fabulous and very fast?
Packing information to visual format is a very welcome, relatively new approach in many areas of life. I wonder if this blog post could have been presented in visual format instead of carefree rambling?
♣ In the meantime: Was just reading about the Finnish start-up Supercell in Forbes. Looking at those jaw-dropping figures and hearing the CEO Ilkka Paananen say (at least in Finnish media, link in FIN) that they pay their taxes happily makes me feel hopeful. You can have a prosperous business and not have to drain employees empty of all energy, kill the environment or bend rules on a regular basis. Impressive!
♠ Song of the day: Ralf Gyllenhammar, Bed on fire (this should have been the song to represent Sweden in the Eurovision song contest)