Is it worth using the free TripIt app for keeping track of your travel papers?

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Is it worth using the free TripIt app for keeping track of your travel papers?

TripIt is a website that promises to organise all those PDFs of itineraries, hotel bookings, flight tickets and other papers you need when you go business travelling.

One of the perks of my job is that I get to travel quite a bit. However, it's a hassle managing multiple itineraries, tracking flight delays and changes and finding my way from airports to hotels and other navigation challenges.

Usually, I keep PDFs of all these documents in a folder in Google Drive that I sync to all my devices as well as paper copies I carry with me. However, I was offered a trial of TripIt Pro so I thought I'd see if it's a better system than my current one.

Getting data into TripIt

TripIt is an online service that works with an app that seeks to alleviate these and other travel-related challenges. 

The first thing to note about TripIt is that they endeavour to reduce the amount of data you need to key in on your smartphone – there are versions for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry available through their respective app stores. I chose to get my trip details into Trip by forwarding itineraries from Jetstar and American Express Travel to TripIt via email.

For an upcoming trip I have several key pieces of information

  • A flight itinerary with flights, seat allocations and other important data
  • Hotel information
  • Travel documents like passports, visas and insurance

This system worked well for me. All my flights and connections were automatically scraped out of those PDF documents and added to my travel profile. However, my hotel information, which was in the body of the email, was missed.

A colleague tried TripIt's alternative method. You can give TripIt access to your email and it will look through your messages and find itineraries and enter them into your travel profile. This did not work for my colleague.

As well as flights and accommodation, you can also add car rental, cruises, rail and other trip details to your itinerary.

While travelling

When I created my TripIt profile I chose to use my Google credentials for authentication. This means I don’t have to remember another username and password combination. I also provided TripIt with my mobile phone number as it can text reminders and flight information. For example, if a flight is delayed, TripIt can send me a text letting me know.

Although some airlines do this I'm not frequent flyer member with every airline so having alerts handled by one service for every flight, regardless of the airline, is a useful feature for me.

Before getting on a plane there's the check-in process. This is where I hit my first snag. When I tapped the link to check into a Jetstar flight I was directed to Jetstar's US site which doesn’t work for domestic flights. I had to manually shift to the Australian site.

Getting to hotels is reasonably easy as there's integration with Google Maps so you can get driving routes.

Extras

One extra feature we found useful was the integration of points tracking for different frequent flyer programs. We added our accounts for Virgin Velocity and QANTAS Frequent Flyer.

You can also share travel plans with friends over social media although we'd suggest using that with caution as you don't want to tell the world that your home will be unoccupied.

Overall

Not everyone is a frequent traveller. If you only travel once a month of so then managing your itinerary is probably pretty straightforward. But if you travel regularly to multiple locations with complex flight plans involving stopovers and connections, then having a system that lets you know of impending schedule changes is very useful.

I'd also like a place to store information such as passport numbers, emergency travel contacts such as credit card companies and

There are still some issues for Concur, the creators of TripIt, to deal with such as directing users to the correct, localised version of airline sites for check-in and doing a better job of finding travel itineraries within inboxes automatically.

Is it worth the effort? For frequent travellers we'd say yes but for occasional travellers it's probably overkill.

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