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The holiday travel season is upon us.
With 59% of Americans now fully vaccinated, experts are predicting Thanksgiving will bring the largest travel surge expected since the start of the pandemic. More than 53 million Americans are expected to travel this Thanksgiving weekend. In Los Angeles, two million are expected to come through LAX.
For those trying to make last-minute travel plans (and assuming you're vaccinated), here are a few apps and services—many of them based in L.A.—that can help.
For the spontaneous traveler
Elude: Available in the Apple app store
Elude is geared toward thrill-seeking travelers looking to save. After entering information like budget, time frame and trip preferences, you'll receive a number of flight and lodging options all around the globe. (If you need a specific location for the holidays, this is probably not the app for you.)
L.A.-based Elude has proven popular with Gen Z users, many of whom are starting to plan for New Year's. "We've been seeing a lot of people start to book for January, February time," said co-founder Frankie Scerbo.
Welcome: Available in the Apple app store
Whether you're traveling out of town or staying in a neighboring city, Welcome has 6.5 million listings that include maps of museums and other events nearby. The L.A.-based app also includes user-generated blogs and photos, news articles, and relevant travel and food stories.
For the budget-minded traveler
Having trouble knowing when is the best time to book a flight? Hopper, which is headquartered in Canada, predicts the prices for flights and will advise you on the right time to book for optimal savings. The app also features a color-coded calendar that helps travelers spot the cheapest days to travel.
For lodging accommodations
How Jurny Hopes to Make Hotel Booking and Check-in an 'Uber-like' Experience dot.la
Jurny: Available in the Apple app store
The app offers contactless check-ins to 600 hotels and short-term rental units including Blue Moon Hotel in New York and Casa De La O in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Jurny, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, allows travelers to check-in and unlock their door from the app and can even adjust the temperature of their room. There is a huge presence in Miami, Nashville, Tel Aviv, New York, London and Central America.
If Jurny doesn't quite work, there's always the old app standby: Airbnb.
SF-based HotelTonight allows the user to book stays the same evening and up to seven days in advance. The hotel rooms are categorized into basic, luxe, charming and high-roller. HotelTonight also rewards its users anytime they reach a specific spending threshold which will grant access to perks like free in-app concierge, credits or cheaper rates.
For anyone looking to improve the airports better
Everyone dreads the long check-in lines at the airport, especially at TSA. MyTSA allows travelers to check how busy the airport is likely to be on your specific day and time of travel based on historical data. This app will also let you check wait times at security checkpoints at major airports.
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The L.A.-based meditation app offers its users guided audio meditation and says it can reduce stress by 14% in just 10 days. Currently there are over 70 million members and 600,000 reviews. Headspace also offers courses for people with different lifestyles, whether you're a runner, student, or kid, they've got a meditation option for you.
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Most hotels still make you wait at the front desk to check in, receive your key card and confirm your payment by verifying with an ID. Los Angeles-based hospitality startup Jurny wants to make that process faster and easier -- for both the traveler and hotel .
"The idea of Jurny was to really consolidate this very fragmented space into a one-stop solution from both the guest standpoint and the operator's standpoint, because it's fragmented from both sides," Jurny CEO and co-founder Luca Zambello said, adding he sees the hospitality industry as one of the last to automate.
The startup provides software and services to hotel and short-term rental operators in an effort to streamline their operations and make guest service available from a single dashboard. Travelers can do everything from change the temperature in their room to unlock their door from their app.
Hotel and rental operators -- many of whom were hard hit by the pandemic -- can automate pricing, cleaning services and monitoring systems from Jurny's dashboard.
On Monday, the startup announced it raised $9.5 million in funding, led by the Santa Monica venture firm Mucker Capital, in addition to Okapi Venture Capital and SaaS Ventures.
Jurny CEO Luca Zambello
Zambello said he created the company because he wanted to provide travelers with an "Uber type of experience." It's currently available only in Apple's App Store and Google Play.
The 33-year-old Zambello is regarded as one of the early pioneers of Airbnb's platform, building a house-renting business on the app. He said the experience helped him see the need for a more streamlined, on-demand hospitality service that could make staying in hotels easier for guests and operators.
Jurny works on a revenue-share model. The company receives a percentage of the hotel's earnings, based on the package an operator chooses and the services it needs.
Zambello said the company will use the new funds to expand, develop more features and make integration easier for independent property owners and hotels.
So far, the app hosts New York City's Blue Moon Hotel, Mexico's Casa De La O and Nashville's 121 Hotel, among others.