Whether you travel once a week or once a decade, you need to have a Tripit account. There aren’t many programs that we feel that strongly about — we’re willing to concede that some people may prefer alternatives to Gmail and maybe even Evernote — but Tripit is one of the few applications that has no true competitor. Let’s take a more in-depth look at what it offers, why you need it, and talk about how you can win a free upgrade for a year of Tripit Pro.
First, we should state we know there actually are services that try to replicate what Tripit does, like TripCase and WorldMate. Some of these services even have unique features that Tripit lacks, but the accuracy, usability, accessibility and functionality of these services are, overall, so far behind Tripit that realistically speaking we don’t consider them to truly be competitors. Secondly, although Tripit knows we are writing a story about the service, we did not give them the opportunity to review it before posting, they did not influence us in any way, none of us are paying users of their service and they are not sponsors of 40Tech. This is truly an unbiased review based on experience.
What Does Tripit Do
Tripit’s tagline says it all: “All your travel plans in one spot.” This seems like a simple idea, but it’s only simple because of Tripit’s tools, user interface, and near universal accessibility. Most people probably travel with a folder jam-packed with print-outs of their agenda, travel confirmations, contact numbers, lists of restaurants and local attractions and more. Tripit replaces that folder and all of those print-outs with a website and mobile apps that quickly collect and succinctly display all of that information in one place, saving a few trees and saving you a few hassles in the process.
So how does it work?
Airfare, Hotel and Rental Vehicles
The first step to making Tripit useful is to import your travel plans. There are several options to import your plans and start building your itinerary. For airfare, hotel and rental vehicles, you can forward reservation confirmations to Tripit, or have them monitor your email and auto-import the reservations for an even easier process. I recently used the auto-import option for a trip and it worked perfectly. Tripit emailed me, less than an hour after I received the confirmation from Continental, to let me know that the reservation had been recognized, processed and was ready for my review. From the email I received from Continental, Tripit automatically built this:
As you can see it even pulled Continental’s customer service number and website if I had any questions or problems.
I went on to book my rental car and hotel, which again were auto-imported very quickly. From the confirmations they pulled a similar level of detail and even included notes about where to catch the bus to take us to the rental car facility, directions from the rental office to my hotel, a map of the city and the local weather forecast during my trip.
So far so good!
There is, of course, more to a trip than flights, hotels and rental cars. If there is one area where it can be said that Tripit could use some work this would probably be it, but even here it’s really a shortcoming in comparison to how amazingly well they did with my reservations. There are 10 additional types of plans that can be put in manually to build out your itinerary and each has separate settings and sub-categories of activities.
All of this gives you a lot of flexibility in what information you would like to store in your Tripit itinerary but there are some drawbacks to this as well. There doesn’t appear to be a general activities area for a trip, you must assign a day for each activity. This makes a lot of sense for say a business trip where each day is planned out, but if I am taking a family vacation there are certain things we are going to do on the trip that won’t have a set day until we get there. For example, we know we’ll go to the zoo, but we haven’t thought about what day yet.
It would also be nice to be able to edit the type of activity. For instance, if I wanted to change a destination to directions, it seems like there should be an easy way to do this. Right now you have to delete the old item and reenter the information as whatever activity you’d prefer it be identified as. This is a small price to pay to have all of your travel information in one place, though, so it is simply an area to improve upon rather than a true problem with Tripit.
Traveling With Tripit
So up to this point Tripit has done a great job of parsing out my travel information and presenting it in a very clean and easy format for me to work with on my computer and on my phone — but there are a few more tricks that Tripit has up its sleeve. In fact there are so many little tricks that will help you during your travels that I won’t be able to go into too much detail on them! Here are a few that really caught my attention:
- they email you with a full itinerary the day before the trip
- flight check-ins right from your trip page
- full integration with Flightstats.com for one click flight status checks
- if you email them (at firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject line “get trip” within minutes you will be emailed a full itinerary
- tons of cool apps and tools like full integration with Yapta so that you are informed if prices go down and you are eligible for a partial refund
- for those who prefer the folder approach, or just want a backup, you can print a complete itinerary
- each trip has a calendar feed to sync plans with your calendar or you can download a calendar file
- with a pro account, you set mobile alerts and they provide you with information on alternate flights if you are stuck, and they will track all of your travel rewards and miles and even provide membership to other travel programs like a one year membership to Hertz Gold.
There’s a social aspect of the site which I haven’t used but it looks pretty cool. You can build a Tripit network by importing your contacts from email, and there are Facebook and LinkedIn tie-ins. If sharing is your thing Tripit has got you covered. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where all of this sharing would be very useful, like you travel to a conference and learn that a former co-worker is also attending the conference.
When I am running out the door to make a flight with a million things on my mind it really is nice to know that I have all of my travel plans and confirmations in one place and accessible on my phone. Considering everything above it’s no wonder that it gets so much recognition as one of the best travel apps, one of the best apps on Android, and a top iPhone app.
So now that you know about Tripit, we would like you to share your worst travel stories in the comments section. Whether it is having to sleep in a third-world airport on Christmas day or losing your luggage on the way to a major conference, let us know. The best/worst story will win you a free one-year Tripit Pro account upgrade to try for yourself. We’ll randomly draw the name of the winner next Sunday at 9 PM U.S. Eastern time, and announce it a day or two later.