It’s hard to believe that 2018 is on the horizon—and so is the time when New Year’s resolutions are on the brain. As I stare down January, travel is certainly at the top of my list. (Experiences over things, right?) Still, it feels like it’s becoming more and more of a challenge to plan creative trips, especially when the goal is seeking out an experience that’s far from cookie cutter. That’s why I’m excited about this new crop of travel services that are breaking the mold when it comes to offering an original getaway that’s tailored just for you.
To Help You Fly Better: JetSmarter & JetSuiteX
Flying commercial isn’t getting any cheaper, which is why JetSmarter, a members-only service for private jets, piqued my interest. It works like this: At any given time, there are actually dozens of grounded jets, not to mention hundreds of empty seats on charter planes. Become a member of this service (the cost ranges between $5,000 and $50,000 to join) and you’ll be able to nab a spare seat on a private flight within minutes. Yes, that’s a pretty penny, but if you travel a ton for business, it might be worth looking at.
Shuttles between major hubs are included in your membership price, and international routes (like New York to London) might set you back a few hundred to a few thousand dollars extra. The main advantage is that you can skip the airport hassle and fly comfortably, which—depending on how often you jet—could be worth the price of membership in gold.
JetSuiteX gives you that same baller feeling (skipping the big city airports and security lines) at regular-airfare prices. You just show up to their private terminal (I valet parked, walked 10 steps into the hangar where my jet was parked, NBD. A waiting room was stocked with great coffee and snacks, but I didn’t wait long: Within 15 minutes we were on the flight and ready to taxi.
Right now you can only jet between a few major west coast cities (I was on board with a whole pile of Silicon Valley bros when I flew to Concord, CA), but they offer seasonal flights to ski stops like Mammoth, and expansion to other cities is coming soon.
To Help You Sleep Better: One Fine Stay
Airbnb is great and all—until you show up at an apartment that isn’t quite what the pictures (or customer reviews) promised. Oh, and the air conditioning is broken, or the sheets are… ewww. If you love the idea of staying in a home instead of a hotel, but not having to sacrifice hotel amenities, One Fine Stay gets you. This service gives you the option to choose from a range of private homes and villas in over 180 destinations ranging from Miami to Paris. Each location has been curated by One Fine Stay— I’ve seen a couple of their LA properties and browsed a bunch more online, and they’re all truly special and unique. They also come with access to 24/7 concierge services, fresh sheets and towels, and high-end amenities once you get there, just as if you were shelling out big money for a hotel.
Prices range from $100 to $3000 or more per night, depending on the location and size of the space. So, if you want a private pied a terre in Paris that’s just above the Louvre, it might set you back a few hundred a night versus the opportunity to rent Necker Island (owned by Richard Branson and large enough to accommodate 36 people), which will cost tens of thousands per night more.
To Help You Sightsee Better: Black Tomato
Travel itineraries that aren’t one-size-fits-all shouldn’t be so hard to put together. At least, that’s the motivation behind new custom travel booking site Black Tomato, which interviews you about your destination-of-choice—and travel goals once you get there—to put together a vacation that will be unlike anything else you (and your travel companions) have ever experienced.
What’s cool about Black Tomato—aside from the fact that they don’t charge any trip planning fees—is that they’ll take your travel concept, then raise the bar. How? Mainly, through custom itineraries. (For example, instead of simply traveling to the UK, you could opt into one of Black Tomato’s signature—and Netflix’s The Crown-themed—experiences that will give you a backstage pass to England and Scotland, royal experts and castle tours all included. (For the record, this is one of many UK itineraries, not to mention one of many destinations, which range from Europe to the Middle East.)
Say, you’re not crystal clear on the travel experience you’re looking for, or simply want a way to make it as epic as possible. Black Tomato’s services include something called Blink, a pop-up travel experience that is dreamed up only for you. It works like this: Black Tomato will assemble custom accommodations (say, a yurt in the middle of a French winery), then tear them down when you check out so no one can experience them in quite the same way as you.
Another service they offer: Get Lost. This is your chance to truly go off the grid. In fact, you won’t even know your destination—just that you’re safe in the hands of Black Tomato, about to embark on a journey where all you do is select your terrain of choice (polar, jungle, coastal, desert or mountains) and show up at the airport. Next-level travel.
Would you try any of these services? What destinations are on your radar for 2018?