30 October, 2008

Organize and share travel plans with TripIt

I just learned about TripIt last night, as I was discussing an upcoming conference with a friend. this is a website that I am excited about, even though my travel has dwindled considerably. TripIt is an easy to use trip organizer. The Internet has made it easier than ever to plan trips, make reservations, and send friends and family information about that trip. Until TripIt, though, you still had to keep every booking, every plan, and every detail in its own format scatter over the Internet, in your email box, and on printouts.

With TripIt, you can enter all the data into one place, and build an itinerary that can be accessed from anywhere; an itinerary that can be shared with friends and family; and an itinerary that you can print and have all in one easy to read format.

There are so many easy to use features, it's difficult to know where to start in explaining. In planning my trip, I added my hotel arrival date, departure date, and other data I received when I booked it. When I added my airline info, the hotel information was updated with arrival times based on when my plane landed plus travel time. It also added directions and a map to travel from the airport. Using the airline information, it added links so I can easily go to the airline site and check-in and get my boarding pass.

Now of course the site didn't know that I am planning on taking public transportation from the airport to the hotel, but it was easy to add those details too. I added a new Note, had it entered in my itinerary after arriving at the airport, and added the pickup and drop off information, so I'd have it handy. The Note even supports graphics, so I added a picture of the airport with the location of the pickup location.

With arrival and departures added, each day has its own heading with a small graphic showing the weather forecast and high and low temperatures. It also automatically added a map of the area. I clicked on my first full day, and added my plan for the day (an 8 - 5 conference). It was then easy to copy the plan to the subsequent days. One easier approach would have been a reoccurring option, such as reoccurring meetings in Outlook.

So now I have my trip details entered, and I want to share it. With a single click I can share it with other TripIt members, or a second click lets me add email addresses. My friends and families don't need to be TripIt members to view my itinerary, which makes them happy. I also see in this process that I have a colleague in TripIt who has a trip at the same time in the same area. Now I have someone I can connect up with, when the business meetings are done, instead of spending the rest of the night cooped up in the hotel room.

I'm still not done though. If I want to add it to my calendar, and it support iCal, with a single click I can do that. iCal is an open format, but there are available plug-ins so you can even get it into Outlook. If I want to get alert notifications, I can add them to my RSS reader. Alerts appear to be notifications of itinerary changes made by people that I am following through TripIt -- perhaps that colleague who's going to meet me on the trip.

When I'm ready to go, I can easily print my itinerary too. Before printing, I have the option to select the level of details, such as whether I want the maps or not. Or if I want to save a few trees, I can just use their mobile phone interface, which can be accessed through a mobile web browser and via emailed commands (e.g. "get trip").

Finally, in addition to gathering airline information for you, TripIt has plug-ins for some popular websites such as LinkedIn, Expedia and Travelocity business services, Fandango and TicketMaster, popular hotel chains, and rental car companies. With these linkages, it just makes it even an easier tool to use.

Founded in 2006, TripIt is just a beta product. As I interact with it tonight to write this, at times it seems a big sluggish. I'm sure that will improve. If you want to see for yourself, but you're not ready to sign up or don't yet have a trip to plan, check out TripIt's demo videos. If you're not much of a traveler yourself, but you have loved ones that do travel, have them give this a go and share their itinerary with you.

1 comment:

petercharrison1 said...

Hey Chris, Peter from TripIt here. Thanks for the kind words! I wanted to make sure you knew that you can also forward your travel confirmations to plans@tripit.com and get all your email details automatically entered into your TripIt itinerary. One of our coolest features. More at http://www.tripit.com/uhp/learnMore and you can reach us at support@tripit.com. Take care!