Trip Planning with TripIt

By | October 17, 2007

When I first read about TripIt, I was interested. Now that I’ve tried it, I’m totally sold on the idea.

TripIt automatically builds up trip plans for you from the confirmation emails you receive when you book flights, hotel rooms, car rentals, etc. All you have to do is forward the emails to a email address. You can also manually enter information or edit things that their software parsed incorrectly. I just set up two trips using confirmation emails from United and Southwest. TripIt imported the information flawlessly.

Currently, weather forecasts for near term trips and historical weather data for longer term trips is added to your trip pages. Links to maps, seatguru pages for the exact airplanes you will be flying on, flight check in and flight status web pages, etc. are also added.

You can easily give your friends access to summary information about your trips. This is great, because I often forward the confirmation emails for my business trips to my wife and she has to keep track of them herself if she wants to know exactly when I am going to be out of town. Now all she has to do is log in and she can see my up to date travel plans. You can even take this a step further and add other people as viewers or collaborators for a trip. That gives them access to even more details, and in the case of collaborators, allows them to edit the trip plans.

TripIt also supports iCal, so if use a calendar app like Google Calendar that also supports iCal, you can subscribe to the calendar feed for your TripIt plans. Unfortunately, the Sunbird Lightning calendar extension for Thunderbird doesn’t yet support iCal.

They also have a Listserv style API. You email it commands and it emails you back short summaries for things like your trips for today or some future day. You can also request just the flight, hotel or car rental plans. And in true Listserv style, if you send it an email with the command “help” in the body of the email, it will send back a helpful list of the supported commands. That could be very helpful if you have a cell phone with email service, but no mobile browser or a tiny screen. I tried accessing the site on my ancient Treo 600, but the page was way too big and took far too long to load. It would be really cool if they added an optimized site for mobiles.

Yet another cool feature is the TripClipper bookmarklet. After selecting some text on some other website, like info on a restaurant you want to go to on a trip, you select the TripIt bookmarklet (I keep a folder of useful bookmarklets in my Firefox personal toolbar) and then assign the clipping a date. Here’s one thing I thing could be improved, though. Even though I picked a date that fell within one of my trips, my clipping was added as a note under Unfiled Items. While it was easy enough to click on the move link to move it into the right trip, the date I assigned the clipping should have been enough information to automatically assign it.

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