A few months ago, two friends of mine and I went on a road trip from Las Vegas to Denver. Our mission was to visit national parks along the way and maybe a few hot springs. It was a mission that was ultimately successful but involved passing a number of Google Docs back and forth during its planning stages.
My friend Sara, for instance, was our park guru and came up with what parks we should visit and the hikes we should do there and made a great doc with maps and info about each one. My friend Claire researched the best hot springs along our route, and I was in charge of finding us the best accommodations and places to eat.
We all were great at creating our respective pieces, but when it came to putting them together things weren’t quite as easy. Scout is a website that could have changed all that.
The site allows you to build a collaborative trip itinerary but in a simple, intuitive way. While you could use it for something like our road trip, the tool really shines when you’re planning a trip to just one city.
Each itinerary starts by simply listing the things you want to do. For instance, I have a friend visiting San Francisco next month who has already told me they’re interested in checking out the regular tourist stops like Alcatraz, Pier 39, and a few museums.
Scout starts you out with a map of your destination and lines where you can enter in just the places you want to visit. As you type in the destination, the site will pull Google Maps data for the city for it as well. For instance, when I added Alcatraz to the “Attractions” list for my friend’s trip the site not only auto-filled that line as I was typing it, it dropped a pin on the map where Alcatraz is. You can invite your friends to add their own must-haves as well.
The idea here is that you can make that ultimate list of places, see where they are in the city, and then build an itinerary that takes those locations into account. When you’re travelling somewhere you’re not familiar with, it’s easy to accidentally schedule yourself on a journey that zig-zags the city for no reason. This way you can see what might make the most sense.
You can also let everyone throw their hopes and dreams on the list. In the case of our road trip, Claire really wanted to go to a hot spring that involved bath tubs on the side of a mountain. It looked amazing, but we thought it was too out of the way. While we were driving we were looking for a spot to take a break and the hot spring just happened to be a few miles from where we were.
Clicking on a map pin brings up things like a location’s hours, address and phone number. There’s also a spot where you can add notes. For instance, you might add a note to a restaurant about who suggested it or what you should order there.
Once you’ve created lists of all the things you want to do, a separate page allows you to drag and drop those items into the perfect multi-day itinerary. The site will then show your suggested itinerary on the map, so you’ll be able to see any transportation mishaps you may have inadvertently created, and in theory, build the perfect itinerary.