The best part about packing for travel is, well, nothing. It’s the least fun, yet most essential part of every trip. If you’re a hotshot business traveler making frequent back-to-back trips, keeping tabs on packing, unpacking, cleaning, and storing your suits and meeting-appropriate attire can feel like a part-time job. Enter the “virtual closet” and valet service from Dufl.
The concept behind Dufl is so simple, it’s a wonder no one thought of it a decade ago. First-time users register online or via a mobile app. The company then dispatches a large suitcase in which to place all your essential travel items, including clothes, shoes, toiletries, gadget chargers, and anything else you can’t live without on the road. You then schedule a pick-up, and, upon receiving your packed suitcase, Dufl photographs and inventories every item for your personal virtual closet, the contents of which can be reviewed anytime from the smartphone app. Once you’re ready to travel, launch the app, select the individual items you’ll be needing, and provide any relevant trip details (destination, dates, etc.). That’s it! Your packed suitcase will be waiting for you at your hotel.
At the end of your trip, you request a return pick-up and attach the Dufl-provided shipping label to your bag. You can then drop it at the front desk of the hotel and forget about it. Once Dufl receives your luggage, they’ll unpack, launder, and stow everything back into your virtual closet where it’s ready to travel again when you need it.
The beauty of this service, of course, is the ability to travel with minimal — even zero — luggage. You never need worry about lugging an army of suitcases through multiple airports, in and out of Uber rides, through sprawling business hotels, or onto subway platforms. Your luggage is simply there when you need it, and gone when you don’t.
Dufl’s founder and CEO, Bill Rinehart, launched the service after one too many business trips where he felt like he was on a hamster wheel of constantly packing, unpacking, and preparing for his next meeting halfway around the world. In the service’s official launch announcement, he cites how Amazon offers same-day delivery in many cities; Shyp will come to your house to pack and ship goods for you; and Washio offers same-day pick-up and laundering of your clothing. Yet, somehow business travelers are still packing like they did in the 80’s.
Dufl is billed as a premium niche service for a higher caliber of traveler (think executives, athletes, CEOs), but it’s just as useful for “average” travelers willing to pay for the convenience. Membership includes a reasonable $10 monthly storage fee for your virtual closet. Each trip then costs $99 total, which includes laundry service, three-day, round-trip, domestic FedEx shipping, and 24/7 concierge service should you arrive late or need to redirect your luggage due to travel cancellations or delays. Overnight service and international trips are extra. Considering the sky-high (and rising) cost of baggage fees, plus typical dry cleaning and laundry costs, and suddenly Dufl’s rates seem quite reasonable.