The word “smart” is one which has pervaded the language of the 21st century in a way that, as little as two short decades ago, might have been seen as somewhat counter-intuitive. Smartphones, smart TVs, smart watches – all incredible devices brought into the world by a few brilliant minds so that others don’t have to work quite so hard. Many have argued that the existence of these intelligent products makes the people that use them anything but smart; rather, it’s often suggested that they become complacent, needy for the instant gratification their gadgets can offer, as well as depleted of any sense of awe regarding the world around them. But what of technology that aims to turn our gaze outward instead of down?
I know it’s old hat to debate the whole “technological advancement is turning us into zombies” schtick, but it’s worth bearing in mind when I go on to explain what a team of travel-lovers based in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Austin, Texas, are setting out to do – that is, introduce a line of luggage that reflects the best things about the time of exponential technological growth we’re living in today. Suitcases made by Away aren’t “smart,” the company insists on their website; they’re thoughtful, created with the best interests of the consumer in mind. Away uses top-quality materials to create products with unbreakable shells, a multitude of secure interior compartments, and, perhaps most excitingly, built-in USB chargers, to ensure that an Away suitcase-owner will never be caught without access to the greater world while on their travels.
Access, after all, is at the very core of Away’s philosophy: in a world that’s growing increasingly connected with the help of technological advances, we truly do owe it to ourselves to reach out into the unknown, go somewhere new, and take a risk, all while knowing that the global community is there to help rather than hinder. This is why Away is proud to produce luggage that doesn’t set out to steal the show, but instead simply help you get there to experience it as only you can. In the words of the creators of this gorgeous, practical suitcase line, “It’s luggage that helps you find your way by staying out of it.” The ability to travel the world is a blessing like no other – and it shouldn’t be dampened by the sinking feeling a battered suitcase and a dying phone battery can induce in even the most indomitable jet-setter.
To bring this higher quality luggage option to a world of avid travelers, Away decided (as so many startups rightly do nowadays) on a director-to-consumer approach. While their products are created using the same premium materials as other leading brands, their overhead is lower, meaning that the cost is, too. Their line currently offers everything from carry-on pieces ($225 for the standard size and $245 for a larger version) to medium and large wheeled suitcases ($275 and $295 respectively), handy “everywhere bags” ($195) to inside-the-case packing cubes, which help customers avoid nasty squashes or broken objects that can ruin any unpacking experience (beginning at $45), to centerfold garment sleeves ($65) and a luxury monogrammed edition of their classic case (beginning at $245). All of Away’s travel pieces are available in a variety of bright, eye-catching colors that are sure to make their presence known on any conveyor belt they grace.
Away was founded by Steph Korey, pictured onsite “away in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon,” and Jen Rubio, shown exploring Kalapana, Hawaii. Associate manager of operations Eliza Weiss has seen the sights of Hydra, Greece, vice president of growth marketing and e-commerce Mark Chou has taken to the blue-green waters of Negril, Jamaica, and art director Sho Shibuya has strolled the shores of Vung Tau City, Vietnam. These are just a couple of the great minds behind Away, and just a handful of the adventures they’ve undertaken. Their collective experience of immersing themselves in the bounty of sights and cultures our planet has to offer is a clear indication that they’re a group of people that know what they’re talking about. It’s easy to imagine that they’ve experienced their fair share of dead-phone-dread; these are people who, putting it simply, are pretty worldly.
Interested in learning more about the international exploits of the Away team? You’re in luck. Along with cultivating a luggage line set to change the face of the way we pack for – and outright live – any upcoming trip, they’ve also invested their creative energies in producing Airplane Mode, a podcast that takes a look at why human beings feel the desire to travel so powerfully, and the amazing things that can happen when we give in to this urge. Each episode is between 30 and 40 minutes long, and is a must-listen for all those interested in stories about travel’s social impact, the ups and downs of work trips, international food-tasting, and even finding love abroad. Thinking of subscribing? Sounds like a smart idea to me.