Keeping track of travel reservations can be quite a chore. I’m looking forward to the day when I’ll be getting emails from airlines, hotels, car rentals, trains, meetings, appointments, tickets and whatever else I’m planning for a trip. Back in the day, I used to keep a folder with printouts of all this information and brought it with me wherever we went. I also needed to bring a backpack full of maps and travel books. Now I’ve traded in that folder for a website and phone app that keep all this information organized for me.
Since 2009, I’ve used the website TripIt to keep my travel plans organized. The site and subsequent smartphone apps have grown into a robust way to store travel plans and share them with others.
Here’s how the website works. You register your email addresses with TripIt. When you receive a confirmation email, you then forward the email to TripIt and the system processes the info and adds it to your trips. If you want, you can register your email address with the leading providers (Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook) and the website will scrape your email and automatically add any new reservations to your account.
TripIt has become “smarter” over the years. When you get a reservation that doesn’t fit into a trip, a new trip is created for you. The way TripIt orders your reservations has also improved. Previously, your reservations were entered in time order. TripIt now puts them into a logical sequence (i.e., you arrive on a plane first, rent a car and finally check in to your hotel).
You can link your TripIt calendar to other calendar programs such as Outlook, Google Calendar or Apple iCal, so the information is easily accessible. If you’re traveling with others, or have people you want to share your trip plans with, it’s easy to give them access to any of your trip plans.
All these functions are all available with the free version of TripIt. I upgraded to TripIt Pro, which costs an additional $49 a year (but you can get a 30-day free trial).
TripIt Pro has everything the free version does, but also gives real-time flight alerts for changes and helps find alternate flights and better seats. It also will tell you if you can get a fare refund due to a drop in price.
There are options to TripIt. If you have an Apple device, Siri will scan your mail and make suggestions to add events to your Apple calendar. The same for Gmail. AwardWallet also keeps track of your reservations, but only if they’re linked to your loyalty account, so there’s more chance for ones to slip by unnoticed.
I’m staying with TripIt. I feel safe in saying that the TripIt website and the smartphone app have been one of the game-changers in the way we travel.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary