The story of my (long) journey from Maine to New York City
I wish connected cars powered by AI were already mainstream! It would have made a day full of frictions much easier! You know… THOSE days when pretty much everything goes wrong?
Long story short: a massive traffic resulted in a series of chaos: out of hours car rental drop off, missed my bus to New York, had to pay rebooking fees, almost got my hotel in NYC cancelled, and I paid a FORTUNE in roaming fees!
How the story began…
Following GBTA Convention that was held in Boston, Massachusetts, I (obviously!) opted for bleisure travel (and you’ll soon read about it on the blog). I rented a car and headed up to Maine to enjoy the beauty of Acadia National Park (I am a big fan of hiking/biking in open spaces). And to my point: this is where the potential of connected cars begins: when you are on a road trip… We’ll get there!
…then how it went wrong
I was leaving Maine and needed to drop my car at the agency in Boston, head to the bus station, and hop on a 5:30 PM bus to New York City. Of course I did make sure I would have enough time between the connections. I’m a savvy (business) traveller after all eh! 😉
I cross checked the traffic information online before leaving. All looked good: 280 miles to go. Expected time to reach Boston: 4 hours and 50 minutes. Turns out that after a couple of hours, the traffic started to be very congested in several areas. Delays delays delays… I had no way to check updates online while on the road as roaming costs a fortune. Note that I didn’t buy a local SIM card. I was in the nature anyway.… **BTW this is a call for global connectivity at AFFORDABLE rates!!!**
This all resulted in a 9-hour drive instead of 5h. I experienced a series of pains:
While I was driving, I realized I was going to miss my bus. Luckily I bought a flexible ticket. I naively thought I could easily change it via the app of the famous bus company… (I had to turn on roaming on my smartphone!). Well well…. NO! I had to call the customer service to sort this out… but it resulted in an endless and extremely painful conversation ending with « you have to check that directly at the bus station ». Thank you. Super helpful to buy a flexible ticket ONLINE and not to be able to amend it while on the go! (I won’t use that company again in the future).
I missed the opening hours of the car rental agency and I dropped the car later than expected… Luckily no late fees have been applied!
As expected I missed my bus to New York… I did go at the counter of the bus company – as per advised. They rebooked me for a 10PM bus and I had to pay a 20$ fee for that.
I needed to notify my hotel in NYC of my super late arrival to make sure they didn’t cancel my reservation and did not apply no show fees. Easiest option was to call them as I needed an instant confirmation and as the WiFi of Boston bus station is not working properly (I usually use Twitter for this type of requests).
Bonus : my rebooked 10PM bus got delayed… because of a breach!!! There was no proper information at the station and we all had to wait for hours to be able to hop on another bus. This means: another round to call the hotel and notify them I would arrive even later than announced! And again: friction… delays… no information… and a very approximate and non reliable WiFi.
I paid tremendous roaming fees. If you want to bankrupt: turn of WiFi while in the US or in Asia if you’re European. BTW: kuddos to the EU for making roaming fees free across the Euro zone.
And why it couldn’t have gone so wrong!
My connected car would have been aware of my whole itinerary because I would have pre-loaded my itinerary. Say goodbye to fragmentation! Dots are connected. Personalisation (really) begins!.
Bonus – did you see Facebook’s recent recommendation feature? When it locates you in a city, it tells you who of your friends have checked in and where they have been and also displays places that have received great reviews around you. Imagine your car does that for you. A simple tap and you add that to your itinerary. Your navigation system is updated.
My car would have known my ETA in Boston and would have deducted I was going to miss my pre-booked bus. It would have facilitated the rebooking of my bus – if not fully taken care of it, and would have noticed the car rental agency of my status.
My car would have facilitated my transfer to the bus station in Boston, once my car dropped – to save time. For example, facilitate a cab ride, or display the public transports options and ETA at the bus station.
As my car would have had a 360° view on my whole itinerary, it would have notified my hotel in New York of my late arrival.
Instead of that… my experience was only about stress. When you’re travelling on your own it’s not always easy to handle disruptions. You’re on your own. Technology is a BIG enabler in that sense and can change our life as travellers! Bleisure travel can be as painful and horrendous as business travel.
This post is a plea to more simplicity! I want a seamless and hassle free experience when I travel.
My thoughts arrive at an interesting timing: Elon Musk has recently announced on Twitter that Tesla is working on hosting their driver profiles on the cloud. That would mean that any Tesla you drive in the world (rental car, friend’s car…) could automatically become your Tesla and adjust to your preferences. Read more here.
This is now personalisation brought to a whole new level! I wish this will inspire the travel industry.
Do YOU have a travel anecdote to share? Comment this post!