(The Road Warrior is a column that explores how apps, mobile devices and online technology can make the life of a traveling man or woman so much easier…and certainly more entertaining.)
Before I dive into the nitty-gritty, let introduce myself: My name is Rod Paddock, and for the past two decades I have been an independent software consultant, technical trainer, book author and conference speaker. One of the unique aspects of this type of career is the ability to travel. In the ensuing two decades I have racked up over a million seat miles traveling domestically and internationally. Traveling this much is interesting to say the least.
Over the years, I have developed some fairly interesting travel habits. One habit of mine is to simply get on a plane and head to my destination without any of my travel details on hand. Often I have no idea what hotel I am staying at, many times looking up the details on my mobile phone, while in the cab on the way there. My directions to the cabbie: “Head downtown. I’ll get you the name of the hotel in a sec.”. So why the heck didn’t I just print this stuff out? Easy: It was simply too much work to print out the details for hotels, rental cars, airline flights, etc. for 20-30 business trips a year. This was my life. Until I found an indispensable mobile travel application: Tripit.
A few years ago a fellow “Road Warrior” recommended I take a look at Tripit for organizing all of my business trips. Initially I was reluctant to use an app to organize my business trips. Why the heck would type all of my details into yet another application? This is where the “indispensable” part comes in. You don’t need to type your information into Tripit. Tripit does the heavy lifting for you, via e-mail. E-mail ? Yes e-mail. The secret sauce of Tripit is its amazing ability to parse confirmation e-mails from nearly every airline, rental car company, hotel chain and travel site in existence.
Here’s how Tripit works. First you set up an account on their website: www.tripit.com. Once you set up an account you simply forward any confirmation e-mails you receive to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tripit parses that e-mail and creates itineraries for your trips. It does a remarkable job of grouping your airline, rental car and hotel conformation into unique “Trips”. Figure 1 shows my hotel, rental car and airline information for a trip I took in November.
One of the great features of Tripit is that it includes more information than just the details from conformations. If you look closely at figure 1 you’ll see that Tripit included a map of my hotel’s locaton. Tripit also included directions from the airport to my hotel. Figure 2 shows the details Tripit gathered from my hotel confirmation including the address and a hyperlinked phone # that will dial the hotel for me. Its the little details that make this application invaluable.
There are a number of other aspects to this application that I love. One of them is the social networking aspect of Tripit. I know a lot of other people that travel and use Tripit. I can become “friends” with these people and know where and when they are traveling as well. This is a nice feature when I am traveling to a place alone and might want to arrange a meet up. Another nice touch is that Tripit keeps track of all my past travels and gives me metrics. How many flights, how many miles. It also ranks my travel against other road warrior friends of mine. These are all part of the free aspect of Tripit.
I am also a subscriber to the “Pro” version of tripit. This is yet another invaluable aspect of Tripit. I subscribe to this part of Tripit for one reason: notifications. Tripit sends me text messages whenever a significant travel event happens. For instance today Tripit sent me a flight delay message (Figure 3). This was nice as it allowed me to have a longer lunch with my family before catching my flight today. Another message will occur when this flight lands. Tripit will notify me of my connecting gate information so I don’t need to hassle with the reader boards at the airport. One other features of Tripit-Pro is that it will watch for lower fares. If it finds one it will notify you so you can contact your airline for a refund.
If you are a frequent or infrequent traveler Tripit is a must have tool. I have not found a more friction free travel tool than this. Happy travels.