It’s reassuring to know that, jaded as I am, every so often, I can still stumble across a service that makes me think: “At last! I’ve waited years for this to exist!” So I’m exceedingly pleased to tell you all about AirWander, a web site built for peripatetic travel junkies like me; one which — at last — allows you to easily search for, and book, multinational flights with multi-day stopovers.
This is admittedly something of a niche market. Most people want to travel straight to their destination. But the truly itchy-footed, like myself, love the notion of spending three days in Nation X on the way to Destination A, and maybe three more days in Nation Y on the way back. Alas, I can tell you from painful experience, most online booking sites are terrible at this sort of thing; they theoretically offer “multi-city” bookings, but their search algorithms either roll over and die before returning any results, or they offer you ludicrously overpriced bookings with byzantine routings only a mileage runner could love.
AirWander is noticeably better. It’s not perfect, of course. Hey, it just launched last month, at TechCrunch Disrupt London. But I can assure you, as an inveterate traveler (I think I’ve been to ~90 nations now? Though as the numbers mount up you realize that both “been to” and “nation” have a surprising number of edge cases) and frequent airfare hunter, they are definitely a step in the right direction from anything that previously existed.
Consider: I’m loosely plotting a trip to Japan sometime this spring. On a whim, I told AirWander to find me an itinerary with a 3-day stopover in Jakarta on the way there, and 3 more days in Hanoi on the way back. It promptly fetched up multiple itineraries for a decent price ($1800.) It wasn’t perfect — for one thing, between time zones, the International Date Line, and connecting flights, I’d actually get only about 36 hours in Jakarta — but it’s a far better aspirational airfare browsing experience than its competitors, which generally insist on knowing precisely when and where you want to fly if you’re planning anything more complex than a round-trip, and then make you tap and type for what feels like ages.
(As a semi-irrelevant personal aside; I’ve been columnizing here for more than five years, and I get something like a dozen PR pitches a day, but this is only the second time I have ever written a piece as a direct result of a cold email pitch. I suppose the moral is: don’t lose all hope, PR people, but don’t harbor much, either.)