Google makes it easier to find COVID-19 travel advisories

As the coronavirus continues to spread and countries introduce various travel restrictions, Google has seen an uptick in searches for travel advisories and cancellation policies. In response, it's making some changes to help users find that informati...

Spongebob fans! This Pineapple Villa will top your travel bucket list!

What is helping me get by these trying times is thinking about all the things I would do or places I will visit once the pandemic ends. Somewhere in the middle of all the wishful thinking and watching cartoons, I came across Spongebob’s Pineapple Villa and I had to look at it thrice to make sure my mind was not playing tricks on me. I can confirm it is real, the Pineapple from Bikini Bottom is actually a part of Nickelodeon’s resort in Punta Cana, and friends, that is where I want to be relaxing if we get our summer back. Welcome to Home Sweet Pineapple!

I will happily trade 124 Conch Street for a vacation in the Dominican Republic. The Pineapple Villa is not an exact replica of our beloved sea sponge’s home but, it is a lot more luxurious and human-friendly! The decor inside the villa has many iconic elements of Spongebob’s humble abode to make you feel like you are in Bikini Bottom – like the blue bamboo wallpaper, the floaty chair, the bulls-eye window, and the diving-helmet shaped tv. It has a private master suite with a king-size bed, both indoor and outdoor living as well as dining areas, and a complete marble bathroom. But my favorite part about the pineapple under the sea (or on land in this case) is the Aguas del Amor outdoor shower and freestanding tub. If that wasn’t enough, you can stroll through the villa’s private gardens, the Pineapple’s very own infinity pool or lounge on the sun-bathing beds while enjoying some of the show’s famous burgers. Anything outdoor that comes with butler-service at this point has my full attention.

“The 2-bedroom/3-bath Pineapple features all of the modern amenities and luxurious accommodations found in the Super Villas, but with a unique twist: all who enter are instantly immersed in SpongeBob’s world,” say those managing the iconic yellow structure. What makes me feel warm inside (yes, I realize I feel that way for a cartoon) is that this is probably the life Spongebob dreamed of having instead of flipping burgers. But what I do know for sure is that he would bury himself in the sand before he coughed up $3,800 per night.

Designer: Nickelodeon

To maximize usability and access, the SPLIT travel case has TWO front-faces

Call its design ambidextrous or two-faced or whatever you want, the SPLIT suitcase makes an important observation when it comes to packing for travel. There’s a difference between organization and access. Your travel case may have multiple slots and compartments to organize your items, but they’re all accessible through the same opening… so whether you want to grab something as small as your sunglasses case, or something as bulky as your jacket, it takes you the same amount of time and effort because your bag may have multiple compartments, but it has only one pathway of access.

That distinction is Split’s design brief. It comes with an organized central space for your items like most travel cases, but where it truly differs in its design is in the fact that it’s accessible from two sides, in two ways, for two reasons. There are items you pack with the intent of unpacking at your destination, and items you pack but may need to instantly access at any given point of time, like your laptop, ebook reader, passport, tickets, sunscreen, etc. SPLIT’s design takes cognizance of this dichotomy of need and comes with access flaps on both sides of the bag… one opening traditionally, for storing larger items that don’t need to be accessed easily, and another letterbox-style flap that lets you easily dip into your bag to grab your laptop or headphones.

Organization and access are what give the SPLIT travel case its edge. The bag comes with essentially two front-faces, eliminating the back panel, which usually houses the telescopic handle. Instead, the handle covers the sides of the SPLIT, giving you a bag you can easily wheel beside you rather than tugging behind you. The insides of the split come well organized for all sorts of travel, be it for leisure or work. A divider panel splits the inner mass into two, while acting as a detachable sleeve for your laptop, power-bank, mouse, etc., while a variety of SYSTEMA organizer soft-boxes let you separate your clothes, shoes, toiletry, etc. The SPLIT secures all your belongings with industry-leading YKK zips and a TSA lock that lets you lock and unlock both flaps on either side, and USB ports on the outside to charge your phone while waiting at airport terminals.

Built with a robust hard-case ABS outer, the SPLIT comes in three variants – Light, Business, and Premium, sporting different panels ranging from hard plastic to ballistic nylon, and even premium leather. The Business SPLIT gives you an extra slot on the inside for a tablet, and for business cards, while the Premium comes with the SYSTEMA organizer-boxes included. You even get a slick leather ID tag to complement your leather bag!

Designer: Appercase Design

Click Here to Buy Now: $249 $350 ($101 off).

SPLIT – The Dual Access Carry-On Suitcase

The SPLIT suitcase by Appercase design is a premium carry-on roller with horizontal and vertical openings on both sides for easy access to your essentials and dedicated pockets for laptop, cables and documents.

All the space you need for personal organization.

Adjust the interior space according to your business and personal needs.

For maximum security and selective opening (front and back panel).

Optimized interior space and increased stability, in a unique, sleek design.

Choose Your SPLIT

LIGHT With minimal interior organization, LIGHT is made from the best polycarbonate materials. The design is focused on durability and simplicity and the construction of the model allows maximum storage space for your personal belongings. Think less is more.

BUSINESS prioritizes the organization system that is made out of ballistic nylon fabric and provides a fully formulated luggage interior layout with assembling compartments for laptop, tablet, business cards, pens and many other items, keeping all of your devices and belongings safely stored while you travel.

PREMIUM design is made with leather and offers the ultimate comfort. Fitted with a full interior organization system with laptop and tablet pockets, it comes with an additional set of three removable organizer items from our SYSTEMA collection, included to complete the custom layout of this exclusive suitcase.


Click Here to Buy Now: $249 $350 ($101 off).

This winter hotel is built to blend in with the slopes

There is something so serene about a snowy landscape…when you don’t have to shovel it! When you wake up and look out the window to see everything blanketed in a white sheet of fluff, it brings a sense of calm and stillness. Snow to me is a state of zen and that is why I am forever swooning over hotels like this one that gives us a glimpse of what a vacation to Narnia would be like – and trust me, I would probably inquire about moving there permanently. This particular hotel almost reminds me of the bunny slope aka level 1 ski slope which really makes it stand out as a winter hotel while naturally blending in its surroundings.

Hotels like this usually do better in one season, so their form is more unconventional to make the stay as unique as possible given the niche audience it serves. The gently sloping roofs make it one with the mountains and the top-to-bottom glass windows bring the natural beauty in. An architectural build like this stands out without having too many elements – simple additions like the windows eliminate the need to brighten or add too much decor inside because the surrounding doubles up as the aesthetic. Come to think of it, this hotel’s form has made most of its environment and actually let it lead the interior instead of dictating the design.

High-altitude tourism is slowly but surely climbing up the hill of popular yet offbeat travel destinations. It allows time away from the noisy tourist spots and lets you have me-time either all cozied up in the hotel or skiing down the hill. Most hotels that are nestled in winter wonderlands have developed themselves as mini-ecosystems to sustain the establishment despite the weather, so there will be something to do for every type of traveler – unless of course, you are someone who would rather be laying on the beach. But even if you are a summer lover, just hanging out in a hot tub or a jacuzzi overlooking untouched snowy landscapes is bound to clear your mind and relax you.

One thing I am certain about is that no matter what your preferred travel destination or favorite season is, experiencing snowfall and drinking hot cocoa in an uncrowded space is a vacation for your soul.

Designers: Davit Jilavyan and Mary Jilavyan

This V-shaped aircraft is energy efficient and has double the cabin space!

Eliminating the distinction between a plane’s cabin and its wings, the Flying-V by Justus Benad assumes a unique V-shaped aircraft design that integrates the passenger cabin, the cargo hold, and the fuel tanks right into the wings.

Created as a part of his thesis project, TU Delft student Justus Benad designed the Flying-V to be a highly energy-efficient long-distance airplane. The Flying-V relies on a wider wing-span than most traditional aircrafts, but offers double the cabin space in the process. Think of it as having the same wing-span and seating capacity as an Airbus A350, but being only half as long. Its improved aerodynamic design helps reduce the aircraft’s overall weight, bringing down its fuel consumption by as much as 20%, making the Flying-V incredibly efficient for its capacity!

The interiors of the Flying-V are mindfully designed for its 314 passengers. The V-shaped cabin space comes with an unusually wide cross-section towards the front, quite similar to the MAVERIC concept from Airbus. Designed to help distribute weight efficiently, the cabin is fitted with experimental lightweight fixtures that provide a comfortable experience for the passengers. The cabin’s unique V-shape also provides the ability to introduce as many as 4 seating options: lounge chairs, group seating, individual seats and collapsible beds.

A team of engineers, technicians, and students at TU Delft built a scale model of the Flying-V with a wingspan of 3.06 meters with the plan to test-fly it during the year to measure its stability when cruising at low speeds and to calculate the right angle for take-off and landing.

Designer: Justus Benad (TU Delft)

Image Credits: TU Delft and Anton Weaver

This electric aircraft concept uses stratospheric air-friction as a power source!

If you’ve ever seen a jet blaze through the sky leaving a perfect line of smoke behind it, you’ve probably wondered why that smoke holds its shape so perfectly for so long, but doesn’t hold true on land when a motorbike or car zooms down the road. Air movement anywhere above the troposphere (the lowest region of our atmosphere) is extremely negligible. Jets, which fly in the stratosphere, leave behind that trail of smoke because the air there doesn’t move to disrupt the smoke trails. This also means that there’s immense amounts of friction when a jet travels at high speeds, cutting through the motionless air particles. Designer Michal Bonikowski believes that friction could actually be a source of clean energy that a plane could harness to reduce its carbon footprint.

The Eather One looks like any other airplane, except for the presence of triboelectric nanogenerators on its wings and top. These generators, as a simple Google search told me, harness external mechanical energy, converting it into electrical energy… sort of like a solar panel, but for movement. When the Eather One cuts through the air, the sheer turbulence of driving through our atmosphere generates friction as well as vibrations, which the nanogenerators capture efficiently, converting them into energy that the plane could store in its battery and use in flight. This does two rather important things. By virtue of being an electric aircraft, the Eather One becomes MUCH greener in comparison to regular aircrafts which run on high-octane aerospace fuel… and it also means the aircraft harnesses clean, renewable energy AS it travels, making it even MORE carbon-efficient!

Designer: Michal Bonikowski

An airline pilot designed the world’s most efficient travel luggage

Necessity is perhaps the best sort of design brief. If you want to solve a problem, ask for insights for someone plagued by the problem the most. In 1987, Robert Plath, a Northwest Airlines pilot revolutionized how we travel by simply adding a pair of wheels to his luggage. Decades later, strolleys are practically a norm, and anyone who physically lifts heavy bags is looked at as a luddite. If you want to innovate and create the best sort of luggage for travel, the best way is to talk to someone who literally travels every single day…

If anyone were to know the pain-points of traveling with suitcases, it would be Ethan Fischer. A seasoned airline pilot and entrepreneur, Fischer’s entire profession involves living out of a suitcase, so needless to say, he’s got a few insights on how travel cases should function. Fischer’s journey to designing the world’s most efficient travel luggage stems from the same sense of necessity Robert Plath felt when he sought to add wheels to the bottom of his suitcase. After years of development, and decades of having first-hand experience with badly designed travel bags, Fischer designed the Helix Pro Roller, travel-case that’s practical and strong enough to take the daily abuse of being used by flight-crew. By optimizing the bag to serve the 95th percentile, Fischer’s bag actually outperforms almost every other travel bag when it comes to functionality.

What forms the core of the Helix Pro Roller is its unique handle, an ergonomically designed grip with two-axis rotation and a carbon-fiber tube. This swiveling grip gives you a much more secure and comfortable hold on the bag, allowing you to pull it around without straining your wrist or fumbling with your bag. The two points of rotation allow you to grip the handle naturally, minimizing the load and helping you carry your luggage through the airport every day without feeling the stress of the travel. The bag comes with reinforced wheels too that Fischer claims lives up to the StrongBags brand. Described as the toughest wheels to be used on travel bags, these work wonderfully smoothly on flat surfaces, and absorb shock on rough terrain. In fact, the wheels are actually fashioned from the ones found on inline skates, so you could casually wheel the bag down a flight of stairs and the wheels would actually absorb a majority of the shock, keeping your belongings safe. They sit within a removable housing too, making them easy to periodically clean or even repair and replace.

The Helix Pro Roller was designed to literally be the Nokia 3310 of travel cases… user-friendly, ubiquitous, and practically indestructible. Created keeping flight-crew in mind, the travel case comes with a durable, waterproof, ballistic-proof CORDURA fabric exterior and is reinforced by a polycarbonate case on the inside. The polycarbonate endoskeleton is what gives the Helix Pro its unmatchable durability. Strong enough to take on any sort of impact, and sturdy enough that you could sit comfortably on your suitcase if there isn’t a seat available, the Helix Pro’s case comes rigorously tested to take you through the most hectic of schedules. This hard-case may give the bag limited non-expandable storage, but Fischer solves that by building J-hooks right into the front panel of the bag, letting you hang more bags from it, just the way flight-crew and pilots do. In the pursuit of durability, the bags come with long-lasting high-grade YKK zippers, and are designed to be completely repairable from top to bottom. Designed and perfected for air travel, the bags are appropriately sized to store your belongings and at the same time, fit right into in-cabin overhead compartments. Tried and tested not just by Fischer himself but also by various flight crew working both domestically and internationally who travel every single day and live right out of their travel cases, the Helix Pro Roller is long-lasting user-friendly design done right!

Designer: Ethan Fischer

Click Here to Buy Now: $229 $329 ($100 off). Hurry, only 3/225 left!

Helix Pro Roller – Flight Crew Luggage for Everyone

The Helix Pro is designed with frequent travelers in mind, from rotating carbon fiber handle, impact-resistant Polycarbonate frame, tear-resistant CORDURA Ballistic nylon to the strongest wheels on the markets makes this bag built to last.

The bag and its accessories are ergonomically designed to make your travels as convenient as possible. The handle joints and the stainless steel hook for your secondary bags ensure a centered and balanced system that makes it so the bag does all the work for you.

The handle rotates and pivots in your hand for comfort, instantly relieving stress in your wrist, elbow, and shoulder.

Their inline 650z skate wheels with sealed bearings are built for cobblestone roads and rough sidewalks.

The frame is made of impact-resistant Polycarbonate and is designed to absorb shock through the entire frame, lessening the impact abuse on other parts.

Click Here to Buy Now: $229 $329 ($100 off). Hurry, only 3/225 left!

This Airbnb Airship brings the stargazing to your room

Airbnb has single-handedly changed how the world travels – it has not only made travel accessible but taken it up to a different dimension altogether with its one-of-a-kind homestays. Airbnb filled this gap that benefits the traveler and the host but also provides multiple tiers between hotels and motels. Like many, I love to travel and sometimes on dull days I will check for the most unique Airbnb stays, you can actually book igloos, treehouses, sheep trailers, caves, castles, and even a POTATO – yup! To add to that bucket list is the Airship002 – a futuristic tiny house in the Scottish highlands overlooking the pristine Sound of Mull.

The superhost of Airship002 describes it as “comfortable, quirky, and cool. It does not pretend to be a five-star hotel. The reviews tell the story” and they have over 200 of them! The secluded pod designed by Roderick James almost looks like a glass submarine straight out of Spy Kids but with the aesthetics of a cool adult. The insulated cylindrical structure is made with aluminum panels riveted together at hard angles and porthole windows with wraparound dragonfly glass at both ends that truly brings the outside in.

Airship002’s interiors are mostly wood and aluminum with modern-rustic decor. With the large windows and steely exterior, one might assume it is cold but, natural fabrics and soft accent lighting actually make it cozy and inviting. Especially the wood-burning stove adds a touch of homely warmth – literally. My favorite part of this pod will still be the windows that not only let you soak in the gorgeous view but also fills it up with that natural light glow. You can just curl up by the fireplace with a good book (how many of us get the time to read anymore?) or a steamy bowl of mac-n-cheese with your favorite music in the back!

Another surreal feature of this Airbnb design is the pair of windows over the four-poster queen bed in the main sleeping quarters that let you stargaze all night. And the morning coffee (after all night of stargazing!) is even more comforting on the private waterfront deck. I would recommend this stay for a digital detox given how much we all need it right now, there are several opportunities to connect with nature and savor a moment with your soul. Go for a sunset hike in a field of blooming bluebells or enjoy bird-watching along the lake, and clear night skies filled with stars. The best part – you have this property all to yourself!

Designer: Roderick James