As my Middle East trip had a rather complicated itinerary, involving multiple events each day and various hotel and flight bookings, I decided to sign up to TripIt.
TripIt is an online itinerary builder. You put all of your bookings into it, and it provides a complete overview of your trip that you can print out, or import into your calendar app. There are also mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Its most useful feature is that it can automatically parse booking confirmation emails, so all you need to do is forward these messages to TripIt and it will build out an itinerary for you, complete with seat numbers and contact details. If it recognises an address, then you’ll get a map as well. Of course, manual editing is possible as well but the automatic parsing saves a lot of time. TripIt can even be configured to automatically scan your Gmail or Outlook.com email account for booking emails, upon which it will magically create itineraries for you.
The parsing technology isn’t perfect. I forwarded a confirmation email for a recent train booking from Halifax, and it thought that was Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada and not Halifax, West Yorkshire. But errors like these are easily corrected. TripIt also automatically detects the correct time zone.
TripIt also has a social aspect. You can add friends how also use the service and see where they’re travelling to (trips can be made private if you don’t want to share them all). If a contact is nearby, you can then make arrangements to meet up.
Like many sites these days, TripIt operates on a ‘freemium’ model. All of the above features are available for free, but for $49 per year you can upgrade to TripIt Pro. This will let you add your airline frequent flyer accounts, and hotel loyalty accounts, and offer advice about how to make the most of them. You’ll also get instant updates about flight delays by email, SMS or a push notification in the mobile app, assuming you have internet access where you are. As an extension of this, TripIt Pro will try to help you re-book flights in case of cancellation, and also let you know if you are due a refund. TripIt Pro is available free for the first month, and if you use this link you can get it for $39 in the first year, a saving of $10.
I now send any hotel and travel bookings to TripIt as a matter of course. Partly because it saves me having to wade through emails to find important information, but also lets the two other people I know who use it where I’m going, in case our paths cross at any point. TripIt synchronises with my Sunrise calendar as well, so my trips show up alongside any other plans.
TripIt was great in the Middle East as it made a really complex itinerary much more manageable, but I’d recommend it even for much simpler trips. Having all of your important travel information in one place is great and I’m happy to endorse the free service to even the most occasional travellers. The premium service is probably only of interest to regular flyers, but at less than £3 per month it’s not expensive.