How might we capture the spirit of travel in a local context?



Traveling is exciting, but the headaches of trip planning are not. Wonder designs stay-cations that give all the perks of travel without all of the hassle

Wonder is an an app-based service that guides locals on surprise adventures through their own cities, building in anticipatory touch-points in the days leading up to the excursion.

In collaboration with Gahee Kang.



Research and Testing Lead; Ideation, User Journey Mapping and Wireframing (shared)



An average vacation creates no positive effect on happiness or stress.
— Shawn Achor, Positive Psychologist

Vacations are stressful.

According to leading psychologist Shawn Achor in Harvard Business Review, vacations may not have as many positive benefits as we hope. In fact, travel stress can increase stress levels to the point where people are more stressed than when they left. Yet, a typical "stay-cation" doesn't generate the same anticipation as a trip to a foreign country. But what if there was a way to capture the excitement of traveling without the stress? We began to imagine ways to generate the delight and surprise in traveling abroad with the convenience of local surrounds. We designed Wonder, an app for "a stay-cay that's better than a vacay."



Swapping indecision for discovery

Wonder capitalizes on under-utilized free time, and uses it to capture the adventurous spirit of travel through it's unique, app-based service. Participants select an adventure type, and are sent to a series of mystery locations based on their mood and interests. Each adventure is themed, with multiple options within an adventure to accommodate individual preferences and needs. Adventures accommodate different price ranges, from free discoveries to premium experiences. Wonder can partner with companies such as Groupon, Timeout, or pulsd for unique experiences at reduced price points.


Interview Insights

Free time can be paralyzing

We conducted a series of interviews around how people spend their free time, versus how they would like to be spending it. From interview insights, we found that in cases of unplanned free time, people usually don't know what to do with themselves. They typically resort to what is familiar or comfortable, which in some cases, may be spending 6 hours straight on Facebook or binge watching Netflix. We found that one of the key factors was the amount of time it took to research new activities, as well as gauging whether the experience was worth the time and monetary commitment. Wonder alleviates the cognitive overload of researching and weighing options through curated surprise adventures.



User Testing

Adventure time

To test the viability, my project partner and I conducted a user test where we planned each other's adventures and then went on them, sending hints and locations along the way. Each adventure had a different pre-determined price point, and while I went on my adventure with a friend, we deliberately opted to have one solo and one group experience. For my adventure, my partner, Gahee sent me and my +1 on a low-cost adventure to a pop-up food market, a trip across the East River Ferry, with a final stop at The Museum of Modern Art's PS1 exhibit. In the extra time between planned excursions, my friend and I went on a mission to find the perfect belt (my friend's pants were falling down for the first leg of the journey). 

Many of the times we’re happiest when we go traveling are the times we stumble across things we didn’t expect.
— Nat Ware, The Expectation Gap

From our user testing, we found that the our favorite moments were the unplanned ones, and the adventures were wonderful whether they were gone on alone or with company. Based on our findings, each adventure incorporates extra time for participants to explore the unplanned and make the experience unique.


testing insights

Photos are a part of the journey

While testing the idea, we sent photos back and forth to each other about where we were and what we were up to. The first location for my partner was Amelie, a French restaurant in Greenwich Village, where she this photo.

Sending and receiving photos made the experience more fun for both parties. We decided to incorporate photo-taking into the adventure process, where in order to unlock a new location, the participant adds a photo. At the end of the adventure, photos are aggregated into an album chronicling the journey. 


User Journey Mapping

Hints and clues for each step of the way

We used insights we gathered from our experiment to inform our User Journey and map the emotions and expectation throughout the experience. As our final step, we mapped out key points of our user journey, and built a series of app screens to see how our one-to-one Wonder experience could be delivered through a mobile application.



Preparing you for the unexpected

Wireframes were designed to help illustrate key points of the user flow through before and during the adventure. To generate excitement, daily hints are given for the week leading up to the adventure. When there are 4 days remaining, the packing list is unlocked, which includes suggested items to bring depending on the secret itinerary (water bottles, backpacks, cash, sunscreen, etc). On the day of, users are presented with a theme song for their adventure, and can go through the packing checklist. Once ready, they head out to their destinations, which include step by step directions, pacing, and options to take photos that aggregate into an adventure album.