Forget word of the day, smart is the buzzword of the decade. In the past few years, there has been the emergence of smart homes and smartphones -- but what about smart luggage? Jen Rubio and Steph Korey found an answer to that question, creating Away, the revolutionary carry-on case that is designed with the digital-savvy, contemporary traveler in mind.
Their inaugural product, the Away Carry-On, is the definition of functional. Not only does it feature a built-in charger for smartphones and tablets that can charge your devices up to five times over, but it also features 360 degree spin wheels, a laundry separation system that keeps everything organized,and fits the size requirements for all major airlines. Basically meaning, all your travel needs are covered in one sleek carry-on. And as an added cherry on top, the Away Carry-On rings in at an affordable $225 (most luggage of its caliber can be charged well into the $1,000 range).
As the duo claims, "We knew we could offer people who travel a much better luggage option that was beautifully made of the highest quality materials without it needing to cost more than the trip you're taking it on."
It's a testament to the way they view the modern jet-setter: someone who understand that performance and innovation are now vital cornerstones for any travel.
We spoke exclusively to Jen Rubio and Steph Korey, the founders and brains behind the design, to talk about how Away cuts out the middle man, their favorite places to travel, and more!
What was it like conceptualizing the Away carry-on? What void in the luggage market were you hoping to fill?
There were so many problems with the legacy luggage market: prices for quality products were outrageous, the consumer experience was lackluster, and there wasn't a brand that could really stand out from the crowd as having values that we were excited about. We set out to make the one perfect carry-on, free of gimmicks, designed for the way people truly travel. And we decided to sell it exclusively direct to consumer so that we could sell a product at a quality level that's typically in the $500-$1000 range, for just $225.
If you could take a snapshot of the design process, what would it look like? Who were the key players to making Away come to life?
The foundation of the design process was painstaking research. We used surveys and focus groups to learn from hundreds of travelers what would make luggage perfect for them. We then partnered with San Francisco-based industrial design firm Box Clever to turn that research into a physical design. There are dozens of parts that go into a suitcase, and we worked alongside Box Clever and our manufacturing partners to get every part of it just right. We did 20 iterations of just the wheels!
What are the benefits of the direct-to-consumer model? Why cut out the middle man?
Direct-to-consumer is better for the consumer in every way. The most obvious benefit is that the price the consumer is paying is much closer to the manufacturing cost in this model, because in traditional models the consumer has to pay enough for both the brand and the retailer to have their markups. Beyond strictly the price-to-quality ratio factor, direct to consumer is better because the consumer is always interacting directly with the brand, and as a result there's a continuous feedback loop that leads to constant improvements. That gets lost in the wholesale cycle.
Give us your elevator pitch for someone on the fence about incorporating a high-tech carry-on into their luggage repertoire.
What makes our carry-on so great is that it was designed for the way people truly travel. Four, silent wheels from the highest end wheel manufacturer, the lightest yet most durable polycarbonate shell, an interior organization system that actually makes sense for how you pack throughout your trip. The charging capabilities are a bonus because everyone is always frustrated about scouting for an airport outlet. Even if it's rare for your phone to be dying (in which case, tell us your secrets!) it never hurts to have a backup plan while you're away. With your Away carry-on, you can forget to bring a charger altogether for a weekend trip and still be covered.
"What makes our carry-on so great is that it was designed for the way people truly travel."
Jen Rubio and Steph Korey
Where are your favorite places to travel to?
Steph: Anywhere I've never been! My favorite part of travel is discovering new places and cultures. I recently went to the southeast part of Italy, a region called Puglia, that's right on the water and surrounded by vineyards and these ancient farmhouses called Masserias. The food is unbelievable and there are no foreign tourists, I loved that it felt like a more authentic experience than the usual parts of Italy that foreigners tend to visit
Jen: I love Tokyo and Stockholm. I've been lucky enough to have the chance to explore both cities pretty well over the last few years—each has such a strong sense of design that's completely different from the other one, but I love seeing how culture, behavior and traditions drive the aesthetics. Each city is a great example of this.
What's one traveling hack you swear by?
Steph: If you check a bag, especially if you have a layover, bring your first 24 hours of essentials with you in your carry-on. If your checked bag doesn't make it, most of the time you'll get it within a day, but you don't want to be stuck without a toothbrush and something to wear when you arrive.
Jen: On a less practical note, if you have time before a long-haul flight, treat yourself to a massage just before boarding—even a 15-minute neck and shoulder chair massage at the airport can you make you feel more relaxed for the trip and completely transform your attitude.
What are the three things that always have to be in your carry-on?
Steph: The micro-USB cord that comes with the Away carry-on to be able to re-charge the bag mid-trip, Outdoor Voices leggings, sweats and hoodies for when I need maximum comfort, and Glosser's rosewater mist and moisturizer for combating dry plane air.
Jen: An amazing eye mask, a large scarf that can double as a blanket on the plane (we call this a blarf), and noise-canceling headphones.
For even more travel inspiration, scroll through the gallery below!
25 must-see Paris landmarks travel - AD
This new luggage brand will change the way you travel for good
Just take a 20-minute walk in Paris and you’re likely to glimpse a handful of major landmarks. The Eiffel Tower shoots up from one end. The gilded cap of the Les Invalides gleams just a few blocks away. The Louvre stretches across its waterfront plot, just across the Seine. But in between the staple Paris attractions—or in some cases, a short RER ride away—you’re in close quarters with dozens more significant sites, like the recently renovated Picasso Museum, situated in a 17th-century mansion in the Marais, or Oscar Niemeyer’s slick, undulating design for the Communist Party headquarters, out in the 19th arrondissement. If you can’t keep track, AD has compiled 25 things to do in Paris, both on and off the beaten path.
Located on the Île de la Cité, a thin island in the Seine, Notre Dame de Paris is perhaps the most famous cathedral in the world. Characterized by its classic French Gothic architecture, the structure was one of the first to use a flying buttress.
In 1806 Napoléon ordered the construction of the Arc de Triomphe to honor those who fought in the Napoleonic wars. The massive archway, which wasn’t completed until 1836, anchors the Place Charles de Gaulle at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. Architect Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin modeled the monument after the ancient Roman Arch of Constantine, which he doubled in size.
The Centre Pompidou—designed in the 1970s by Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, and Gianfranco Franchini—garnered much attention upon completion for its high-tech style. Its color-coded, tubular façade (green pipes are plumbing, blue ducts are climate control, electrical wires are yellow), with an elevator that climbs in diagonals up the front, looks straight out of Super Mario Land.
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica, designed by Paul Abadie between 1875 and 1914, crowns the summit of Montmartre, the highest point in the city.
Devised by Gustave Eiffel in 1889 as the entrance to the World’s Fair, the iron lattice Eiffel Tower that was originally viewed as an eyesore has become an emblem of the City of Light. At the top of the tower visitors can now glimpse the petite apartment—complete with paisley wallpaper and oil paintings—that Eiffel kept for himself and his most prominent friends.
A dramatic contrast to Paris’ majestic palaces and cathedrals, Oscar Niemeyer’s command center for the Communist Party in Paris—completed in 1972 when it was still a major political force—makes quite a statement with its undulating glazed facade. Niemeyer, a staunch Communist himself, built the structure free of charge.
A central landmark in Paris, the Louvre is a must for anyone visiting France. Originally built to house the royal family in the late 12th century (it officially opened as a museum in 1793), the palace has undergone countless renovations and extensions since, including the installation of I. M. Pei’s iconic glass pyramids—which topped the museum’s new entrance—in 1989.
Located in Paris’s business district, La Défense, La Grande Arche—the 20th-century counterpart to the Arc de Triomphe—was conceived by Danish architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen and completed by French architect Paul Andreu. Shaped like a cube with its middle cut out, the structure is made from a concrete frame encased in glass and Carrara marble.
With its gleaming, gilded dome, Les Invalides is easy to spot from anywhere in the city. Established by Louis XIV in 1670 for old or unwell soldiers, the complex of buildings now houses several museums, a church, and—staying true to its origins—a hospital and home for retired soldiers.
Frank Gehry’s striking Fondation Louis Vuitton, an art museum located on the outer rim of Paris in the 16th arrondissement, resembles a futuristic ship with its overlapping glass sails. Be sure to explore its verdant grounds, adjacent to the Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne.
For Paris’s Panthéon, modeled after the original in Rome, architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot embellished a classical structure with Gothic detailing. Though it originally served as a church, the building now acts as a burial place for notable French citizens.
After a five-year renovation and expansion that was completed in 2014, the Picasso Museum looks better than ever. Devised by architect Jean-François Bodin, the enhanced space includes more square footage, inserting contemporary white-wall galleries into the Hôtel Salé, a Baroque 17th-century mansion. Keep an eye out for mesmerizing plaster-white lighting and furniture by Diego Giacometti.
The Cinémathèque Française—the original location of which was the site of mass leftist student protest in 1968—moved into a postmodernist, Frank Gehry–designed building in 1993. The museum and cinema holds one of the largest collections of film documents and paraphernalia in the world.
The opulent Opéra Garnier was built in the late 19th century by Charles Garnier and famously served as the setting of Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera.
The Grand Palais, resembling a giant greenhouse, has hosted a military hospital (during WWI), the World Fencing Championship, and Paris Fashion Week. Most days, though, the Beaux Arts building serves as the venue for one of the city’s many fine-art museums.
Paris’s City Hall—the Hôtel de Ville—has served as a grand home to the Mayor of Paris since its purchase in the year 1357. These days, the building also moonlights as a magnificent party venue.
Jean Nouvel merges interior and exterior so seamlessly in his Fondation Cartier, designed in 1994, that, when museumgoers stand inside the contemporary glass-and-steel structure, they remain surrounded by the lush gardens outside.
Built in 1861, the Jeu de Paume first housed tennis courts, then Nazi plunder in the 1940s. It’s now hung with modern and postmodern photography. The building, located on the north corner of the Tuileries Gardens, was revised by Antoine Stinco in 1989 to create a light-filled exhibition space.
The Jardin des Plantes, one of the Museum of Natural History’s seven departments, comprises the Galerie de l’Évolution (shown), the Mineralogy Museum, the Paleontology Museum, and the Entomology Museum, in addition to the gardens. The establishment started in 1626 as a medicinal herb garden for Louis XIII.
Located near Notre Dame on the Île de la Cité, the the Palais de Justice is part of a complex that contains some of the oldest buildings from the former royal palace, such as the Sainte-Chapelle, built in 1240, and the Conciergerie, a prison where Marie Antoinette was held before her execution.
The Palais de Tokyo was revitalized in 2002 by architecture firm Lacaton & Vassal, which stripped away the building’s monumental interior to reveal a raw backdrop to the modern and contemporary art on display.
The Philharmonie de Paris, designed by Jean Nouvel and completed just last year, is constructed from cast aluminum and reflective steel, with a shimmering façade made up of 340,000 tiles that depict abstracted birds.
The Musée d’Orsay, located on Paris’s Left Bank, originated as the Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. Now the popular museum houses works of art from the period 1848 through 1914.
Originally built in the 17th century for Marie de Médicis, the mother of Louis XIII, the Palais du Luxembourg was transformed after the French Revolution into a legislative building, which has served, since 1958, as the seat of the French Senate.