Given my tendency to be an early adapter when it comes to the Internet and technology, I’ll admit that I was a big slow to hop on the smartphone bandwagon. It took me a while to invest in an iPhone, and when I did at first I primarily used it as a phone (fancy that!) and to play music. It took me a while to put any apps on my phone beyond a few game for my kids.
All this is to say that I’m discerning about which apps I actually use for family travel. They have to work easily and well and solve actual problems or I can’t be bothered. And one app that I have used on every trip during the past year is TripIt.
There are two versions of TripIt, one free and TripIt Pro, which is $49 a year. TripIt didn’t ask or pay me to write this review of their product, which I’ve liked since I started using it. But I did receive a year’s subscription to TripIt Pro for free as an attendee of the TBEX conference for travel bloggers last June. I like it so much that when my subscription runs out, I plan to renew it on my own dime.
To sign up for the free version of TripIt, simply visit the website and enter the email address you use for trip planning and a password. You can choose to use TripIt in its online version only, but to get the full benefit, I recommend also downloading the app to your phone or tablet.
When you purchase a plane ticket, book a hotel reservation, or rent a car and get an email confirming your reservation, TripIt will pull that information into its tool and create an itinerary for you. The itinerary includes all the vital information you need, like addresses, times, and confirmation numbers, but you can also easily customize it with maps and other details if there are things you want to add. TripIt is smart and automatically groups together items that are clearly on the same trip.
Having my entire itinerary for a trip with links on my phone is absolute genius, especially since I don’t even have to think about collating the information. No more painstaking data entry, staring at screens in airports to try and find our gate, or juggling folders and sheets of paper along with all of our family’s gear. You can sync TripIt with your online calendar as well and if you have friends, a spouse, or family you want to share your itinerary with, TripIt allows you to easily email it to them.
TripIt Pro is an even more robust tool because it sends you alerts that remind you to check in for flights or let you know when there are delays or gate changes, in my experience often ahead of when the airlines themselves let you know. This is a valuable service for any traveler of course but is even more critical for families who might use that extra hour before arriving at the airport to let their children expend some energy before being confined to an airplane seat. There are other benefits that come with TripIt Pro including a promise to let you know if you are eligible for a refund if the price of your flight goes down.
If you’re into the social networking side of things, TripIt offers the opportunity to create a profile and share your trips publicly (you can of course also keep them all private). If you like, you can also sync with your other social media profiles and if you’ve got other friends there who are TripIt members with public profile you’ll see where they are going and can even engage in some friendly travel one-upsmanship.
Got your own favorite travel app? I’d love to know what it is and why. And don’t forget to check out Travel Tips Tuesday over at Walkingon Travels and Suitcases and Sippy Cups where you’ll find all kinds of other travel advice.