Quick Review: TripIt

I spend quite a bit of time travelling. On average, I fly about 120,000km per years and spend 100 days or so away from home. That means managing a lot of flights, hotel booking and airport transfers. For the last three years, I’ve trusted one app with all that – TripIt.

I’ve used TripIt on an iPhone for some time as well as Android handsets and on computers via web browser.

The service’s premise is simple – handle all those itinerary attachments that you get via email and extract their data to present a single itinerary in one place.

You can do this manually, of course. But TripIt automates the process. There are a couple of ways it can do this.

The simplest is to give TripIt access to your email. When a new travel or accommodation booking document lands in your inbox, TripIt recognises it and automatically extracts the data.

However, I’m not happy giving a third party app access to my mail. Although TripIt is made by Concur (who was acquired by German software giant SAP) I’m not quite ready to trust them.

I use TripIt’s other handy feature. I simply forward travel and accommodation bookings to an email address. TripIt identifies the email as coming from me through the “from” address and imports the data.

The real smarts in TripIt come from its ability to extract the relevant data from the attached PDFs or the body of the email.

Once in TripIt I get alerts, via my smartphone’s notification systems and SMS, for when check-in is available, if flights are delayed, for gate changes and other journey-related alerts.

Often, flight delay alerts come from TripIt before the airlines’ alert systems before official messages from the airline. This can be really handy. I’ve been able to get to the front of the line when trying to change a flight to compensate for a delay.

TripIt can also track loyalty programs such as frequent flyer and hotel rewards.

You can choose to have TripIt automatically sync to your calendar so all your travel information is in your calendar. It’s pretty good at managing different time zones but does, very occasionally, make mistakes, particularly if you go on a trip where you move between multiple time zones.

And you can share trips. There’s an option to share over various social accounts – something I don’t do – or to specific people. I use this to let my partner know where I am and she also receives notifications of flight delays.

After three years, more than 400,000km of travel and close to 300 days away, I’m totally dependent on TripIt.

The basic service is free. TripIt Pro costs US$49 per year. If you want all the flight alerts, points tracking and detailed trip itineraries then you’ll need to splash the cash.

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