Love to travel but hate to pack? Just rent your clothes!

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The future of Millennial travel could be flying luggage-free. After Airbnb and ride-share programmes, the sharing economy has birthed another form of travel in the form of wardrobe rentals that allow jetsetters to travel bag and hassle-free.

And the early adopters for this new way of traveling are Millennials, for whom sleeping in strangers’ apartments and hitching a ride in a stranger’s car, is the new norm.

In the Global Travel Trends 2016 report released recently by market research group Euromonitor, researchers point to a range of shoe and clothing rental services that have launched in recent years by hoteliers and young start-ups.

One of the more innovative start-ups cited as an example is unPack, a concept that was pitched on the US entrepreneurial TV show Shark Tank.

The premise is simple: After filling in an online form that includes clothing size, preferred brands and travel destination, unPack will send a suitcase filled with clothes and toiletries to the hotel, ready for pick-up upon arrival.

At the end of the stay, users simply return the suitcase to the front desk.

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For business or leisure travelers flying from one climate to another – Los Angeles to New York, for example – a companion winter unPack service features a suitcase with a down jacket, winter hat, scarves, gloves and umbrella, eliminating the need to pack winter gear. The service also helps fliers avoid baggage fees.

Hoteliers have likewise recognised the opportunity for retail rentals. Starwood’s Westin brand, for instance, rents out running clothes and running shoes to guests, allowing them to save space in their suitcase.

Retailer Pimkie also installed Mini Fashion Bars at hotel rooms in Antwerp, Brussels, Milan in Italy and Paris in France last year.

Much like a mini-bar service, the fashion bar allows guests to buy clothes and accessories which have been selected to match the city’s local weather and location from the comfort of their hotel room closet.

“The clothes rental trend has implications beyond travel as it offers great potential to the fashion industry,” said WTM senior director Simon Press in a statement. “Savvy clothes designers and retailers can reach out to a large captive audience, especially as there is an estimated 28.5 million hotel rooms worldwide.”

Virgin Hotel Chicago also has a concierge service allowing guests to buy clothes from the Gap and have them delivered straight to their room. – AFP Relaxnews

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