Guest Author - Julia Reed Zaic
I think I have discovered the most useful travel tool yet. It is a beta site I learned about from the Frugal Traveler in the New York Times (the King of Travel, in my opinion). Gone are the days where you print out every different confirmation of every different online booking you make and try to keep in a separate paper or email folder. Simply sign up for this free service and carry your automatic itinerary with you on paper or on your PDA. Little to no assembly required.
Your road to automatic itinerary building begins with visiting TripIt.com Create a free account, just like you would on Orbitz or some other travel-related site. Then, once you have established your account, you can personalize it if you choose to share your itineraries with others.
Now, when you book your next flight and receive an email confirmation, simply open that email, and forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s it. The system matches your name on the confirmation email to your TripIt account. Do the same with rental car reservations, hotel rooms bookings, side trip confirmations (concerts, restaurant reservations, museums, etc.). When you sign back into your TripIt account, there will be a “Trip” created based on the confirmation emails you have forwarded. It might be called “New York, NY”, or whatever destination you have booked.
Open the “trip” that has been created from your confirmation emails and behold the power of 21st century technology. Like a seasoned engineer, your itinerary has been built into the shape of the trip you haven’t even taken yet. For example let’s say you forwarded your flight reservations to Washington D.C. on JetBlue for Monday morning to Tripit. Then, a few days later, you forwarded a rental car reservation confirmation. Then, two days before your trip, you book reservations for dinner on OpenTable.com at Restaurant 701 for Tuesday, and Oya on Wednesday. Then, you can’t sleep the night before you leave and decide its time you took that trip to the top of the Washington Monument you’ve been curious about since you were eight years old, which includes an email confirmation of date and time, and you forward that to Tripit.
Now, the morning of your flight, you open your Tripit.com account, and there it is. Everything you forwarded to your account for your four day trip to D.C. starting with your first event (the flight) rolls out before your eyes. Not only that, there are even maps offered between events that are automatically included to spare you the hassle of doing a Google or Mapquest search for directions between your events, e.g., the airport and the hotel. All of your confirmation numbers, addresses, accommodations and other information included on the confirmation emails you received and that you forwarded to your TripIt account are automatically sent through the magical travel blender and served up just waiting for you to hit the print button.
Have an important meeting to which you can’t be late? TripIt allows you to manually add events to your automatically built itinerary that will calculate maps and travel time between your hotel and meeting locations with estimated travel times included. An added advantage is, you don’t need paper. You can access your TripIt account on your Blackberry, iPhone or other PDA with internet access. Just follow the simple directions after signing in to your account.
Also, safety is key, especially amongst solo female travelers. TripIt allows you to forward your itinerary that breaks down every step of your trip to family, friends and colleagues who also have TripIt accounts.
Gone are the days of arriving at the airport or your hotel and not being able to find the printed confirmation you surely placed in your carry-on. TripIt simplifies your business and leisure travel so you can worry about, well, adding more events to your trip!