I’m a planner. I’m not the type A, OCD type of planner, but I like to keep things organized and in its place. Never is this more apparent than when I am planning the details of my vacation.
I like to have all of my flight, hotel and activity confirmations in one place where I can access them at any time.
I started out using the calendar feature of Microsoft Outlook. I could easily record all of my confirmations by keying them in on the appropriate dates; then the day before departure, I would print out each day’s activities and have them ready to go.
I really didn’t have an issue with preparing my itinerary this way. That is, until I found a quicker and easier way to do it. Enter the app, TripIt. I found it while searching through apps on Linked-In, of all places.
It allows your linkedin connections to see where you are headed to next. This can be a bad and a good thing, I chose to disable this feature since I didn’t necessarily want everyone of my connections to know my complete schedule in real time.
However, you can input all of your information via their website by opening an account at TripIt . You can even give TripIt permission to auto import travel plans from your email inbox (this can be rescinded at any time). When you receive confirmations of your airline, hotel and tour bookings via email, TripIt will automatically scan your inbox and capture those bookings into your TripIt account. Each screen shot that you see below was automatically scanned into my account when TripIt discovered it in my gmail account.
The only time you will have to actually key in data is when you make a direct reservation over the phone and get a verbal confirmation. I use the free version of TripIt because it does pretty much everything that I require and I’m…um….budget minded.
Once you have created an account, you can begin to start inputting your itinerary (assuming that you will do it manually the first time around). At the top right of the page, you will see a menu bar.
Click on “Add a trip”. You can key in your destination city and your trip dates. You may decide to assign a name to your trip or indicate if you want this trip to remain private or if you want to share it with your previously selected connections (like Linked-In, or even the people who will be traveling with you).
Lastly, you can select if it’s a business or leisure trip then you can click the “Create Trip” button.
Your new trip itinerary page will show a calendar of the dates of the trip. You may click on a date and select a category for each activity whether it’s flight, hotel, restaurant or activity reservations. Continue until you have captured all of the pertinent information for your trip from your confirmation emails. You may copy/paste everything just to be sure, but I can’t recommend highly enough that you allow TripIt access to your email and let them plug in the info for you.
I decided to stay at an airport hotel since our flight was early in the morning. I know…you’re asking why would I spend $106.00 on a hotel when I didn’t have to. Here’s why: It was close to the airport, we didn’t have to fight through rush hour traffic, we got a free breakfast and free airport shuttle before heading out. The best part was that with that “Park, Sleep and Fly” reservation, we got up to two weeks free parking on site. When you compare that to what the park and fly lots charge for 10 days we made the right decision.
I like to detail the hotel’s checkout time too. It allows a smooth transition from the hotel to the airport so that I can get to my gate in a timely fashion. We were able to enjoy a nice breakfast before taking the shuttle to our American Airlines gate.
TripIt left no stone unturned when copying my confirmation email to the itinerary. I used miles to get from ATL – MIA, hence the small fare which really was the airline fee. We had a six hour layover in Miami, we chose to spend our downtime in the Delta Airlines Crown room (we got a free pass for opening an AMEX Delta Gold card) surfing the net, eating and having a cocktail or two.
We arrived at the first leg of our trip, Lima, Peru, early the next morning. All of our itinerary info for Lima was ‘automagically’ inserted into TripIt for us.
TripIt will offer maps to get you from point A to point B. Since we were meeting our driver at ground transportation, there was no need to utilize it.
We would be arriving way before check in but I made sure to notify them via email that I would be coming in the wee hours of the morning. They were ok with it since there is always someone at the front desk. I booked the reservation via Expedia (after reading great reviews on tripadvisor.com) and when the confirmation email was sent, TripIt was to the rescue again, plugging in all of the itinerary info into my account.
Once again, in our attempt to travel cheaply we settled on a hostel for Lima. It was nice, we got free breakfast and coffee too. The front desk clerks and housekeeping were exceptional….even when we were locked inside our room for two hours! That’s a long story that I will have to write about sometime.
I had booked two tours before leaving home and those tours were entered into TripIt. I decided to leave one day free in between where we could just spend the day getting to know the city.
Next, we detailed the hostel departure date and time. Also, the second leg of our trip from Lima to Santiago, Chile is detailed here along with info on the apartment that we decided to rent in the heart of Santiago. Again, we had a driver so directions to the apartment were unnecessary.
We got there fairly late in the day, so we went next door to the grocery store and bought food for the week. We had a tour early the next morning so we spent the day getting to know the city. We took a daytrip to Valparaiso the following day. I decided to copy/paste info about the city that I found on lonely planet into the itinerary.
Note that next to the date, the weather forecast is indicated for that particular day.
I had to determine when I needed to leave the apartment in order to catch the third leg of my trip to Easter Island. The flight was rather early and since only there was only two flights a week, we could not miss it. This is where TripIt really comes in handy because it allows you see how your reservations impact one another at a single glance.
Finally, the departure from the hostel is posted along with the first leg of the return to our hometown of Atlanta.
You can download a free app version for android, iPhone, Blackberry, Windows 7 and iPad here: TripIt on Mobile
If you think you might want more features and are willing to pay for them, there are several premium options available to you as a TripIt Pro ($49.00 per year) user that you might find useful like: