This past week I had a trip planned from Baltimore, MD to Boston, MA. When I parked the car at the Baltimore airport parking garage and got out, I realized that I didn’t have my wallet. Here I was at an airport without any form of identification or credit cards and I had a flight to catch in an hour. There was no time to go back home and get my wallet. I was amazed at the things I could do without my wallet and have listed three below.
1) Board a domestic flight
I nervously looked up online to see if I could travel without an ID and found a TSA blog that suggested that I could. Gathering some confidence, I went up to the TSA agent, handed my boarding pass and admitted that I didn’t have an ID. The officer asked if I had any old receipts that had my name on it. Since I had just cleaned out my bag the previous night and thrown out old receipts, I didn’t find any. She then proceeded to ask me a couple of fairly basic questions to verify my identity, my bags were checked thoroughly and, to my surprise, I was soon on my way to the gate to board my flight.
2) Dining with the ‘Square’ app
I had Square installed on my Iphone and that gave me options to eat at some great local restaurants. Square not only helped me find local restaurants close to work, but also enabled me to pay using the app. Square has my picture uploaded and the restaurant used that to authenticate my identify before charging me. With Square, I didn’t feel the need to walk around with credit cards all the time, which gave me a sense of security.
3) Checking into a hotel
Being a member of the Marriott hotel’s rewards program made check-in a breeze. They had all the necessary information such as my reservation details and my credit card information on file. I had originally planned to use Marriott’s new “Travel Brilliantly” campaign that enables you to check in using your mobile phone and avail your room keys at the hotel’s mobile check-in kiosk without an ID. Again, to my surprise, I was able to check-in without any ID at the hotel reception and did not have to use the “Travel Brilliantly” campaign.
I could not, however, rent a car. Budget Rental accepted some forms of identification, but I had none of those and they would not allow me to rent a car using just a picture of my driver’s license.
Given this recent travel experience, I wondered if my mobile device has become the most important travel “document” that I own. The mobile device is now enabling travelers to go places without carrying their wallet. A driver’s license is needed, but all other documents can quickly become redundant if you have a phone. To think travelling around the US without your wallet just 5-7 years ago seemed impossible to me. This has to be tempered with privacy concerns and the laws have to evolve to prevent abuse. With wearable devices like google glass just around the corner, the next 3-5 years promise to be exciting time in terms of where electronic gadgets can take us.