September 6, 2019

Five for Friday: Travelling

From the couch to the phone, and the classroom to virtual reality, these Finnish companies are on the move.
From the couch to the phone, and the classroom to virtual reality, these Finnish companies are on the move.
Julia Bushueva

Grab your passport and get ready to take off with these Finnish innovations that are designed to get you moving.

The recent news that Finland is the best country to visit for wildlife travel got us thinking about other ways in which we are travelling ahead of the pack.

Last year we gathered five digital travel innovations that reached for the moon with their pioneering spirit. What better way to follow up than this quintet of ways that cover the A to Z of travelling from point A to point B?


Bookshelves both offline and online are increasingly crowded with travel books featuring the two cents’ worth of anyone with access to a word processor. How to stand out in a crowded marketplace? This original take on travel journalism first went for an application. Recognised as the most sustainable and best digital solution in the field of culture and tourism, the app kicks up travel tips from journalists with local knowledge of the destination, as well as maps, bookings and immersive technologies. The app has since spawned a series of books.

“We are the kind of travellers who want to really get to know the culture and the people, and where the local people go and what they eat and what they make there,” Paula Kultanen Ribas said earlier this year. “That’s the whole point.”


Do you find carry-on luggage a pain in the neck? You’re definitely not the only one, as the success of this startup attests. These coats and vests are custom-made for travelling, featuring different kinds of pockets, an inflatable travel pillow and a hood that brings some privacy for naps. Now they are looking forward to a bright future to boot, with a Kickstarter campaign in the immediate pipeline to launch what they call the “perfect hybrid between travel and everyday jacket”, Neckpacker 2.0.

“We all know how useless regular inflatable pillows are,” CEO Niklas Kuusela told us last year. “With Neckpacker, travellers can adjust the pillow in countless ways, so everyone will find a cosy position. Sleeping well bites off a good chunk of a long journey.”

MaaS Global

Mobility as a service – that’s the abbreviation in the company title above. What does this mean exactly? Well, MaaS Global’s Whim app is a one-stop shop for all your mobility needs: taxis, city bikes, public transport and even hire cars are all available either as a pay-per-ride option or monthly package whereby you can mix and match your way around town. MaaS Global is aiming to establish itself as a major player in the growing mobility sector and has rolled out in cities in Finland, Belgium and England, with Japan and other markets to follow next.

“The road may be long, but the industry is on track to become massive, and someone will end up benefiting greatly,” stated CEO Sampo Hietanen. “I don’t see why it couldn’t be us.”

Virtual Traveller

Prefer to see the world from the comfort of your own home? Many of us lack either the money or the time (or both) to travel to all our dream destinations, and some of us have physical disabilities or health restrictions that stop us from fulfilling our travel-related dreams.

This online platform is for sharing and viewing 360-degree videos from fascinating places in all corners of the world. And the fact that 360-degree cameras and VR glasses are becoming increasingly inexpensive means that this world is opening up for all.

“360 virtual reality isn’t mainstream yet, but it’s headed that way, as it’s a great media for engaging people,” CEO Donna Kivirauma told us. “You can surprise people time and time again, because there’s always another angle.”

Educational travel

Has the world ever been more curious about Finland? Visitor numbers are on the up and up, and our approach to education continues to attract awe. A perfect marriage of interests, perhaps?

Well, Finnish companies and educational institutes have welcomed groups of visitors from around the world already for years. These educational influencers, teachers, principals, students, pupils, researchers and owners of private schools want to see how our education system works in practice.

Local tourism industry operators have also recognised the need to cater and package educational tours for this new international group of visitors.

“Finland’s innovative approach to education resonates on a global scale,” Visit Finland’s Anne Lind said last year. “Now it is time for the world to see first-hand what all the fuss is about.”

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