Re-Introducing My New Travel Planning App – PlanMoreTrips

Welcome Back To Frequent Flyer University

It has been a while since I last posted but a few of you may remember 6 years ago way back in 2014, I built a travel planning app called Tripsy.

At the time, I was frustrated at how difficult the travel planning process was because, like many of you, I was the primary person in my family planning our trips. It was a constant struggle of trying to find award availability and then easily sharing those potential flight options with my family.

That major pain point gave me the idea to “scratch my own itch” and build a comprehensive travel planning app called Tripsy that would streamline the travel planning process by creating an easy way to save and organize potential flight and hotel options.

Tripsy App – Version 1.0

My partner and I built the app and Tripsy launched to great fanfare in April 2014 at Frequent Traveler University in Seattle.

"FTU Launchpoint"

“FTU Launchpoint 2014”

Once Tripsy was launched, we made some great initial traction getting over 2,500 users on our pre-launch waiting list, pitched at TechCrunch, and developed a corporate travel partnership with Concur (owners of TripIt). However, in the end, we ran out of money and had to shut down.

After Tripsy’s failure, I took a break and went backpacking in Southeast Asia for 3 months and during that trip I quickly realized that most travel backpacking gear is terribly made and not designed for long-term travel. It gave me the inspiration to develop travel gear specifically designed for backpackers and TravelMore was born. We did a Kickstarter and it developed into a nice little business that has done over $15,000,000 in sales.

During that time I put Tripsy aside and fully expected in the last 6 years that someone would make an app that makes travel planning easier.

To my surprise, no one did…

So even today in 2020, travel planning is exactly the same as it was in 2014.

People are still planning trips with shared Google spreadsheets, email, text messages, and now Slack channels.

Why Is Travel Planning So Difficult?

It doesn’t matter if you are planning a short weekend getaway to New York or an extended 3-month tour of Asia. The entire process of planning a trip is terrible…

When travel agents existed, you simply told them where you wanted to go and they would go search and come back with a couple of itinerary options to pick from based on your dates and price.

In 2014 2020, thanks to sites like Google Flights, Booking.com, Airbnb, etc we have all become our own travel agents!

Now instead of a couple of pre-set itineraries that a travel agent gives you, there are literally thousands of travel sites that you need to manually search and then construct your own custom itinerary.

While it is great there are so many travel search engines, once you go onto Expedia, Airbnb, Travelocity, Kayak, etc and find something you like, there is no easy way to save and share what you have just found with the other people who will be traveling with you.

If you find 3 flights on Google Flights, an apartment on Airbnb, a hotel room on Booking.com, and a car on Hotwire, there literally is no easy way to share all those options with your spouse or travel partner.

My short-term solution to this problem has always been to create a shared Google Doc and then invite everyone going on the trip to join it. Then when I would find flights and hotels, I would take a screenshot and copy-paste it in so everything was in one central place for everyone to see.

"Google Spreadsheet For Flights"

“Google Spreadsheet For Flights”

I have literally been doing this same terrible process for the last 10 years and this past summer while planning a trip, I finally had enough and decided at a minimum I was going to build Tripsy 2.0 for myself to at least make my travel planning life easier.

After building a very basic Tripsy 2.0, I shared it with a few frequent flyer friends. They liked it so much and found it so useful that they convinced me to develop it a little more and release it to the public.

As part of the version 2.0 launch, I am rebranding Tripsy as PlanMoreTrips.

I think the new name is pretty self-explanatory ; )

Meet PlanMoreTrips

PlanMoreTrips is the easiest way to plan a trip.

PlanMoreTrips solves the 3 major problems travelers face when planning a trip:

  1. SAVING — PlanMoreTrips allows you to save ANY flight or hotel option directly from the travel site you found it on. No more copy-pasting into spreadsheets!
  2. ORGANIZING-Anything you save gets uploaded to a centralized PlanMoreTrips itinerary where it is organized and searchable.
  3. SHARING— You can share your PlanMoreTrips itinerary with anyone going on the trip so they can easily view and comment on all the potential options you found. Here is a real-time PlanMoreTrips itinerary for an upcoming Spring Break trip.

How PlanMoreTrips Works

I tried to make PlanMoreTrips as easy as humanly possible.

All you have to do is install the free PlanMoreTrips Chrome Extension and then it automatically loads on over 1,000+ travel sites and literally does everything for you.

Get The Free PlanMoreTrips Extension

PlanMoreTrips Chrome Store

The PlanMoreTrips extension automatically works with over 1,000+ travel sites including:

Once the PlanMoreTrips extension is installed, you can go onto any travel website like Google Flights, Airbnb, United, Kayak, Southwest, etc and PlanMoreTrips will automatically load and allow you to save any flight and hotel options you see in 1 click.

PlanMoreTrips Demo

PlanMoreTrips automatically captures all the flight times, airports, prices, dates, etc in 1 click so no more copy-pasting!

Since a frequent flyer built it, you can rest assure that you can even save mileage options.

Whatever travel options you save, they are automatically uploaded to a central PlanMoreTrips itinerary.

You can see a real-time PlanMoreTrips itinerary here.

Everything is organized and easily accessible. In the future, the prices will update in real-time and alert you if they change.

Flights Saved To PlanMoreTrips

 

PlanMoreTrips also allows you to save lodging directly from sites like Airbnb.

Save Directly From Airbnb.com

All Potential Lodging Options In 1 Place

Once you have found all your potential flight and hotel options, you can now easily share your potential itinerary with your travel partners with a link. You can see a real-time PlanMoreTrips itinerary here.

Easily Share Your Itinerary In 1 Click

Your travel partners can view all the options you found and they can even leave comments on their preference. In the future, they will be able to also add to the itinerary with options they found.

When you are ready to book, you can just click on the link and it takes you back to the original site to finalize your purchase.

No more shared Google Spreadsheets, long email chains, lost text messages, or poorly formated flight data.

Everything for your trip is now centralized and shareable.

I haven’t done any promotion of the app yet and already random people have found it and have told me that they have saved 75% of the time they normally spent travel planning.

Final Words

If you had told me 6 years ago that I would still be working on Tripsy / PlanMoreTrips, I would have thought you are crazy.

Thankfully those 6 years have given me a whole new perspective on how to build and market this app, so hopefully this second time around, Tripsy / PlanMoreTrips will take flight and help many of us travelers save time and energy planning our next trip.

Thanks to everyone who has been reading FFU since 2012 and has supported me on Tripsy, TravelMore, and now PlanMoreTrips. I literally couldn’t have done it without you!

Please give PlanMoreTrips a try and let me know what you think. This is still version 1 so there may be bugs or things that I forgot to add, so let me know if something isn’t working.

Also if there are any additional features you would like to see, please let me know and I will try to add them.

-Parag

Follow me on FacebookTwitterInstagramRSS, or Email !

Introducing The Jetpack 20L – Pre-Order On Kickstarter + TravelMore Giveaway

What I’ve Been Doing For The Last Year

As many of you have probably noticed in the last year or so, FFU hasn’t been very active!

While I wish I had more time to blog on here because I have a ton of great content and travel tips in my head, all my time has been occupied running TravelMore!

If any of you regular readers remember, last year on April, 14, 2015, I wrote a post on FFU launching my new travel gear company TravelMore.co.

The goal of TravelMore was (and still is) to encourage and inspire people to travel more.

If you ask most people what they really want to do in life, 99% of people will give some variation of the answer that “they want to travel more”, so the goal of the company is to convince as many people as possible to go from wanting to travel more to actually doing it!

TravelMore started off with a few products but over the last 12 months, we have slowly started expanding and started creating our own line of TravelMore products.

I’m happy to say now, TravelMore has a full line of travel products and we sell in 22 countries around the world!

Needless to say, the last 12 months have been a wild ride. If you follow me on Instagram, you also know I have fully embraced the “digital nomad” lifestyle and now spend time traveling around the world trying to avoid the cold Chicago winters.

Much of my time in the last year has also been spent developing and refining a new TravelMore product that launched on Kickstarter last week.

We had a modest goal to raise $7,500 but broke that in about 36 hours with no publicity and unexpectedly became the fastest funded daypack in Kickstarter history.

Introducing The TravelMore Jetpack 20L – The Perfect Daypack

AdamSpin

In the miles & points community, only a couple of us cover the lowly world of backpacking, staying in hostels, and flying economy class to maximize miles. Therefore no one really talks about travel gear or anything like that unless it starts with Tumi or Rimowa.

I know there are some young people interested in backpacking gear, so as I wrote about last year, I’ve been using the Standard Luggage 40L Carry On Backpack on my backpacking adventures around the world. Even after 20 countries & 30,000+ miles, it has held up extremely well and is great because I can carry all my stuff in it but have no issues carrying it on the plane.

While there are good large travel backpacks like Standard Luggage, one thing I noticed is that there aren’t really any good travel daypacks and most lack basic functionality like being able to hold a water bottle, being water resistant, having enough pockets, or having a laptop sleeve for digital nomads.

In the end it was such a hassle trying to find an acceptable daypack, that I decided maybe TravelMore should try and build the perfect daypack from scratch.

For the design of the Jetpack 20L, we actually started by interviewing hundreds of backpackers / travelers around the world to understand what features they actually needed in a daypack.

Early Jetpack 20L Sketches

Early Jetpack 20L Sketches

After we had a pretty good list of features that travelers actually needed, I had the “pleasure” of going to China for 1 month to try and turn the Jetpack vision into reality.

Once the prototypes were created, we had multiple international backpackers spend over 8 months testing the Jetpack 20L on the road.

The Jetpacks were severely abused and tested traveling over 50,000 miles across Australia, China, Thailand, Nepal, India, United States, Iceland, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Finally after 8 months of extensive R&D and testing, we finally arrived at a final product that we can confidently say is the perfect daypack.

What Makes The Jetpack 20L Different?


 

The full list of features can be found on the Kickstarter but here are the highlights:

  • Built For Travelers, By Travelers – Unlike traditional daypacks, the Jetpack 20L was actually designed by people who travel for a living. Every single feature of the Jetpack 20L has been purposefully designed thanks to the input of hundreds of travelers who were interviewed before the bag was designed.

 

  • 3 Awesome Colors – To combat boring daypacks, we created 3 colors for the Jetpack including blue, black, and purple.

Best_Womans_Daypack

best_womens_daypack_for_travel

 

  • 100% Collapsible – When not being used, the Jetpack 20L packs down into itself for easy transport. When collapsed, the Jetpack 20L measures just 8 x 6 x 2 inches and weighs only 12 oz.

Best_Packable_Daypack

Best_Collapsible_Daypack

 

  • Designed For 2016 – Almost everyone travels with a laptop, tablet, or kindle these days, so the Jetpack 20L has a dedicated electronics sleeve that can hold electronic devices up to 15 inches.

daypack_backpack_with_Laptop_sleeve

 

  • Secure & Water Resistant – The Jetpack 20L is designed with ultra strong ripstop nylon that is water resistant. In addition, the Jetpack 20L also has built in YKK zippers that can be locked.

theftproof_backpack_daypack

 

  • Lots of Pockets – This seems like a no brainer but you would be amazed by how many daypacks only have 1 or 2 pockets. The Jetpack 20L has at 6 separate pockets to hold all your stuff.

Daypack_with_Lots_of_pockets

 

  • 365 Year Warranty – All TravelMore products come with the world’s first 365 year warranty. Yes, you read that right, 365 years. We 1000% stand behind our products, so if they break for any reason, customers can exchange them for a new one, no questions asked!

Thank You For Your Support Over The Years + TravelMore Giveaway!

Writing a blog on the internet can be a weird thing because you know there are people reading this but you rarely get to meet readers in real life or interact with them offline.

With FFU, TravelMore, and all the other crazy travel projects I have worked on over the years, I have been extremely fortunate to have been supported by all the awesome people who started reading this blog way back in 2012.

None of these projects would have gotten anywhere if it wasn’t for the amazing FFU community of readers who have supported me over the years, so I just want to say thanks!

To show my appreciation, I am giving away a full TravelMore swag package including basically everything we make.

Total value of this package is over $200.

Winner will get 1 of everything below plus of course a TravelMore Jetpack 20L.

best_tsa_Locks

Reviews_Of_Packing_Cubes

best_travel_towel

To enter the contest, just leave a comment saying where you would take your Jetpack (or where you are traveling to next). Please be sure you leave your real email, so I can contact you. I will pick a winner next week.

-Parag

Standard Luggage Carry On Travel Backpack Review

If you haven’t recently been following me on Instagram or Facebook, I have once again been on the road backpacking around the world (hence the lack of new posts).

After my 3 month trek around Asia in January, I headed back to Chicago for a few months but felt the travel bug biting again, so I decided to spend the summer living in Amsterdam. Using Amsterdam as a home base, I burned 14 free Club Carlson nights touring Copenhagen, Bergen, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, and for good measure Vilnius.

As a “backpacker” spending around 6 months this year living out of a backpack, I get a lot of questions from readers asking what type of backpack is best for backpacking?

A couple years ago, I wrote a post about the luggage I used while traveling which at the time were a Samsonite hardshell luggage set and a 40L REI Vagabond backpack.

I still use both sets of bags and have taken both sets all over Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Australia, India, etc without having any real issues.

While my Samsonite hardshell luggage set is doing great and still considered “top of the line”, since 2012 there have been significant innovations in the travel carry on backpack space with many new companies jumping in including MinaalTortuga, and Standard Luggage.

Basically over the last few years, minimalist traveling has now hit the mainstream and is considered “hip”. On Reddit, an entire community dedicated to minimalist traveling has popped up.

While I love my REI backpack, the one thing that annoys me is that there is no dedicated laptop sleeve so I have to manually unzip my entire bag to take my laptop out at security. As someone who works from their computer and travels all around the world with it, that feature is kind of a big deal for me.

So after much deliberation I decided it was time to get a new carry on backpack and donated my old REI backpack to a fellow traveler.

Narrowing Down The Options

There are quite a few options in the carry on backpack space, so it was a bit difficult narrowing down which travel backpack to get. Below is a quick run down of the available options:

Minaal: $299 + $19 U.S Shipping

Minaal is probably the “coolest” and “sleekest” looking travel bag out there but it is also the most expensive…

Minaal_Carry_On_Backpack_Review

I almost bought the bag until I dug a little deeper and found out that the bag is only 35L capacity. Minaal makes a huge deal saying “size” doesn’t matter but I beg to differ.

I also came across this in-depth review by Carryology that made me think twice about buying a Minaal backpack.

Tortuga – $199 (Free Shipping in U.S)

Tortuga is probably the most well known carry on travel backpack company and they have done a great job helping to make carry on travel backpacks popular.

Tortuga_Travel_Backpack_Review

My friend had their bag so I was able to try it on and use it. While the Tortuga bag is highly reviewed and there isn’t anything wrong with it, there were a few features below that I thought were missing from their bag like it not being able to expand.

Standard Luggage – $175 (Free Worldwide Shipping)

I came across Standard Luggage by accident, as they were running a Kickstarter for their product, the SOLO bag.

Standard_Luggage_Carry_On_Backpack_Review

If you supported their Kickstarter, you were able to get the SOLO bag for $115.

As it was a brand new un-reviewed product, I had a ton of questions for the company about the bag so I emailed the company and the CEO was nice enough to call me on Skype and answer all my questions. Talk about customer service!

While to the untrained eye, the Tortuga backpack and Standard Luggage backpack look very similar, the thing that stood out to me about Standard Luggage’s SOLO bag was the versatility.

The Standard Luggage backpack can also be used as a professional looking shoulder bag with the backpack straps hidden away, which makes it great if you travel for work and have to go straight from the airport to the office.

While the small details like that really attracted me to the bag, the feature that really sold me was the expandable capacity.

While the normal capacity is 40L, the Standard Luggage SOLO bag also has a zipper that allows it to expand to 50L!

Now the expandable 50L probably doesn’t “technically” qualify as a carry on but it is definitely nice to have an extra 10L available to you if you are traveling by bus or train where there are no carry on size limitations.

So with all that in mind, I went ahead and took a leap of faith and ordered the Standard Luggage SOLO bag.

Standard Luggage Solo Bag Review

PROS

Maximum Allowable Carry On Size

My first impression of the bag was that it really looks like a carry on roll-aboard without the wheels, then I quickly realized that was intentional.

Carry_On_Maximum_Size

When filled to 40L, the suitcase is designed to fit the exact dimensions of the dreaded metal cage at the airport, so you should technically never have to check a bag because your bag dimensions are too big.

Front Loading / Clamshell Design

If you are going to buy a travel backpack, make sure you get a front loading one!

It is literally the most important feature to have and it amazes me that people travel with hiking backpack that are top loading because it is so difficult to get stuff out from the bottom of your bag

Standard_Luggage_Review

With the clamshell design, it is really easy to pack (especially if you have packing cubes).

Laptop Sleeve

As I said earlier, this was one of the features that I really wanted in a backpack and Standard Luggage has delivered.

Not only does the bag fit my 15 inch laptop but I can also store my power cords and other electronics things in there.

Backpack_With_Laptop_Sleeve

When I go through airport security, it is now extremely easy to pull my laptop out.

Built In Organization / Tons of Pockets

One thing that most carry on luggage (rollaboard & backpacks) lacks are pockets.

Most travelers these days now have phones, wallets, boarding passes, headphones, etc in their pants pockets.

This bag does a great job of having over 10 different pockets (inside & outside) where you can easily stash stuff.

Also the bag has a few zippered pouches where you can store small items that can easily get lost like paperclips to open SIM cards slots, locks, or SD cards.

Raincover

I actually didn’t know this when I bought the bag but it does come with a free rain cover which is a nice touch.

Changeable Colors

On the Standard Luggage website, the bag is shown to have orange accents but the bag actually comes with 2 colors set, orange and teal.

A great feature is that all the accents are 100% removable and interchangeable so you can swap out the colors or take them all off and have a solid black bag if you want.

Lifetime Warranty

When I bought my REI bag, it was a huge selling point knowing that it came with a lifetime warranty. Thankfully I never had to use but it was good to have just in case.

The SOLO bag also has a lifetime warranty.

CONS

This list of cons is really more a wish list because I do love the SOLO bag. If Standard Luggage is reading this, please consider adding these features in the next round.

Water Bottle Side Pocket

Outside of the US, water fountains and free tap water can be rare so I always travel with water bottle. In a perfect world, the SOLO bag would have a expandable side pocket to fit a water bottle because right now I have to carry it by hand.

Central Point To Lock All The Zippers

This is really being knit picky but the laptop compartment and main zipper compartment are separated by a few inches but they require 2 locks to secure the bag. If there was a way to use 1 lock to secure both zippers, that would be amazing!

Final Thoughts

As I got this product from the Kickstarter, I really had no idea what to expect.

The product could have been an absolute flop but I am extremely happy that I took the chance and ordered the SOLO bag.

I have been using the bag now for over 3 months and absolutely love it.

Best_Travel_Backpack

I literally can’t imagine that I used to travel with a backpack that didn’t have a laptop sleeve!

Not only is the bag extremely functional and well designed but you can really tell by the small details that the creators of the bag are travelers and are really passionate about building a high quality bag.

As this was only the first round of the bag, I am really excited to see what Standard Luggage has to offer in the next round of bags they design.

Overall after using the bag on the road, I would 150% order the SOLO bag again and recommend it to anyone out there that is thinking about backpacking.

If you are interested in purchasing the bag, as of right now you can get the bag for $175 including free worldwide shipping.

If you have any questions for me about the bag, please leave them below and I can answer them based on my experience using it.

-Parag

Follow me on FacebookTwitterInstagramRSS, or Email !