When I travel, I like to be highly organized about my plans. My schedule, confirmation numbers, the exact departure times, and so on have to be at my finger tips. I almost never use travel agents as I usually have a very clear idea of what I want to do and how much I want to pay. Having these details can be very important with hotel reservations so that you can make sure that the rate you reserved is the one that you actually pay.
This is where Tripit.com comes in. TripIt is an online service that manages all these things and creates a clear and easy-to-read itinerary for you. Before TripIt came along, I used carry a whole wad of printouts, and it could be confusing when a trip was long and complicated. If you’ve ever arrived at an airport wondering whether you need to go to the Hertz or Budget counter to pick up your rental car, you’ll probably find this service helpful.
When you get a confirmation from a vendor by email, you simply forward it to email@example.com, and TripIt recognizes you based on your e-mail address. It parses the confirmation and extracts all the essential details. The result is an organized plan that you can access on line or print out. There are versions for mobile devices, including both iPhones and Blackberries.
TripIt comes in two versions, the free version and TripIt Pro, which costs $49.00 a year. I got the Pro version last year, but I am beginning to question its value. The main difference is that it monitors your travel and sends you alerts if your plane is canceled or delayed, a service that duplicates what most airlines do for free anyway. It also monitors alternate flights, which can be quite helpful if you are trying to make plans after a cancellation. Another feature in the Pro version is PointTracker, which puts all your airline points into a single place. This is handy, but I don’t find it works all that well.
Despite a few quirks, I do find TripIt to be useful. There seem to be few vendors whose confirmations that Trip can’t interpret. I have used it with quite a few, including Budget, Hertz, Metropolitan Opera, Megabus, British Airways, United, US Airways, Royal Caribbean, Expedia, Orbitz, Lufthansa, Air Asia, Hilton Hotels, and Hotwire. That is quite impressive, and I like the way it can add your opera seats into your travel plans.
For the most part, TripIt reports your trip and adds it to the schedule flawlessly although there are a few weird things:
- When you travel across time zones, it is not entirely intuitive whether you should enter local time or the time that you usually use. Sometimes, I find that TripIt is trying to be too clever and manipulates the time of an appointment.
- I have written about this before, but it doesn’t work well at all with Megabus. For example, if you book five Megabus round trips, TripIt interprets this as one long trip, and it is quite bothersome to separate them into discrete trips. Even more annoying, the mobile version of TripIt doesn’t display the one piece of information that you really need: the confirmation number that you have to show to the driver!
- TripIt also seems to create random times for your hotel departures. For example, let’s say I am leaving a Hilton in Orlando to catch a plane from Orlando to Baltimore at 5:00 in the afternoon. TripIt might place my hotel departure after my flight departs throwing my schedule out of sequence. With most hotels requiring you to leave by 11:00 or 12:00, I don’t know why this isn’t a default checkout time it TripIt!
TripIt is conceived as a social network, and, by default, reports all your movements to everybody in your network. There are also connections to other social networking sites, such as LinkedIn and Facebook. It is probably a matter of taste and a question of manipulating my privacy settings in TripIt, but I have no interest in announcing my movements to everyone in my network!
I am going to continue to use TripIt for the moment, and I have a few trips that are coming up over the next six months, but I am going to cancel my subscription to TripIt Pro. I’ll look at other competitive products as I do find the quirks a little annoying, and may come back if they fix them.