When Veronica Woodruff was pregnant with her first child, people would tell her she wasn’t going to be able to travel as much as she used to. But as a flight crew member with a passion for travel, she was determined to prove them wrong. When baby Lucia was born, Woodruff took her everywhere—California, Puerto Rico, Hawaii. But the more Woodruff traveled, the more issues she ran into toting her baby stuff. Things would be forgotten; airlines would lose or damage strollers; rental car companies wouldn’t have the promised car seats.
“I just couldn’t understand why there wasn’t a service that caters directly to families when they travel,” Woodruff says. “There’s this group with needs that haven’t been met anywhere within the airport ecosystem.”Veronica Woodruff
At that same time, Woodruff was entering hackathons (competitions where participants create functioning hardware or software by the end of the event) and winning.
“As I continued to win them, I thought to myself, ‘If I can provide a solution for these larger enterprises, I can create a solution of my own.’”
She began reflecting on the issues she had when she traveled with her child and spoke with other families to see if they encountered the same problems.
“I asked parents what would make travel easier, and most of them said, ‘If I didn’t have to bring everything with me—my car seat, my stroller, my pack-and-play,’” Woodruff says. “And some said that they just need help, and there’s nowhere to receive it. When you’re traveling you really don’t get that extra layer of assistance until you reach the aircraft. So there’s that whole time from ticketing to planeside where you don’t have help, and if you’re a traveling mom with multiple kids you’re relying on a kind stranger or maybe an airport worker that you can ask gently for assistance.”
And thus, the idea for Travelsist was born. The main goal for Travelsist was to provide families with assistance when they travel, whether that be through high-quality gear rentals or a personal concierge who meets you at the airport to help with baggage, connections, or simply to hold your baby while you use the restroom, order food, etc.
Travelsist officially launched in 2020 and currently services the Atlanta airport with gear rentals, which include strollers, car seats, playards, and carriers. Woodruff sources only the best quality items from brands like Nuna, Britax, UPPAbaby, and others. After booking your gear rental online, a Travelsist representative will meet you at the airport the day of your flight to provide you with your
“Our Travelsist team consists of a group of parents who have high expectations,” Woodruff says. “We ensure that our gear is high quality and clean. I would not rent out any gear that I wouldn’t use for my daughter. We train our employees to make sure that they’re cleaning the product, that they’re handling the product, that they’re delivering the product in a way that is professional.”
If you’ve opted for the concierge service, a team member will meet you where you’ve requested the help (upon arrival or departure or on your layover). They’re trained to know the airports they service and can be of assistance with something as simple as directing you to a good restaurant or in more complex scenarios such as dealing with delays or canceled flights.
The rates for both the concierge service and gear rentals are meant to be accessible and affordable for all. Gear ranges from $12-15 per day; concierge service is $30 for 30 minutes, $60 for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
“We want to make it easy for everyone to do this,” Woodruff explains. “Of course you could get assistance if you’re an AmEx Platinum member, or if you’re flying on Emirates. But we’re making it affordable for everyone-—not just the first class people.”
And it’s not only for those traveling with kids. Elderly people or those who don’t quite qualify for the airport’s wheelchair assistance can also take advantage of the concierge service. It often helps to have the reassurance of someone assisting you in navigating the airport if you’re a first-time or novice traveler. Woodruff also noticed in their beta testing that friends and grandparents would rent gear when they had relatives with kids visiting.
She plans to expand the gear rentals to four additional major airports in 2022, with even more
on the horizon. In a world of increasing on-demand service, Travelsist fits right into that.
“In our traditional lives, we’re always paying for outside service: we pay people to go grocery shopping for us; we pay people to come in and clean our clothes; we’re paying them to do everything for us,” Woodruff says. “We’re living in a world of on-demand service and we need it the most when we’re outside of our environment.”
Woodruff still regularly travels with her daughter, who is now 5. She hopes that via Travelsist parents
will rethink traveling with kids.
“People always say, ‘I’m not taking my kids on a vacation.’ But when you travel, you want to share that with your kids, you want to show them the world,” Woodruff says. “It’s incredible how much they learn. And that experience is so priceless.”