When I was a road warrior, one of the things I dreaded was cobbling together itineraries for planes, trains, car rentals, hotels, dinner reservations… Thankfully, the age of apps has delivered itinerary building and tracking options such as TripIt and AwardWallet to mention just two. I’m a HUGE fan of TripIt Pro. How big? It’s #1 of the 60+ travel apps that I access on my phone. I turn to it many times a day to review and share my travel plans and see how my travel plans are (alas) changing.
Many people within large corporations may be familiar with TripIt as it’s part of SAP Concur that powers travel for hundreds of thousands of corporate travelers. (Your company may offer you a version of TripIt if you book travel through Concur). There are two public versions of TripIt available. One is free while the Pro version costs $49 a year (although I now have it essentially for free and will explain how below). TripIt and AwardWallet can be accessed via an app or online.
What Do TripIt and AwardWallet Do?
Interestingly, both can build and update travel itineraries and aggregate credit card, hotel, airline and car rental points in real time. (For those of us who have 20+ credit card, frequent flyer and hotel accounts having it all in a single view and being able to track in real-time is invaluable). Also very interestingly, while they both can provide nearly the same info. in my not very scientific poll of friends, TripIt wins for itinerary management while AwardWallet is preferred for points/miles aggregation.
Today, I will focus on the itinerary building abilities vs account (points, miles…) tracking. (IMHO both do a super job at account tracking, but neither one can fully track points — for example neither TripIt or AwardWallet can scrub your email to find out your balances for Delta, Southwest or United, but you can set up an email auto-forward. Cumbersome but workable.)
TripIt Free Offers
As noted, I’m a huge fan of TripIt in either flavor. Why? For so many reasons. Here are a few:
- TripIt will organize all your individual (hotel, car, airplane, train, AirBnB…) plans for a single trip based on date ranges you set into a single “folder” that you can easily name, e.g. “Chicago Business” or “Africa”. You can effortlessly access the info via the web or the app. You can view both upcoming and past itineraries.
- You can either forward individual itinerary items to email@example.com or have TripIt “scrape” your email and import for you seamlessly.
- Share with others easily and quickly. My 90 year old mom lives in NYC and likes to know where I am. Our babysitter likes to know so she can make plans based upon our schedules. With TripIt, I can share plans with 1, 2 or 10 people..
- I’m more a fan of the layout of TripIt vs. AwardWallet. Both can share the same info, but I like TripIt’s visuals — they are more aesthetically appealing.
One of my road warrior friends Jeff M finds TripIt very useful to “… keep all my itinerary data and add my restaurant reservations, tour bookings, etc in there.” So, he has a one stop visual shop to see all his activities.
These are just a few of the features of the free version. So, what do you get with a $49 subscription that is incremental to the free version?
Why Pay $49 a Year?
I asked my world traveling friend Jackie W. what makes TripIt Pro worth $49 vs the free version. She particularly likes that TripIt Pro will push via email and on her phone an alert of a schedule change or delay. With that intelligence, she “…can then start wheeling and dealing to a better itinerary.”
Mid-flight while online, I’ve received notifications from TripIt Pro about a change to my connecting flight (before the plane landed) and made changes while on the first flight before being electronically notified by the carrier. Information earlier than others is critical when trying to make changes.
Recently by knowing that my connecting flight in Seattle was departing a) later than planned and b) from a different gate than originally scheduled, I was able to intercept my friends via text and let them know when/where to meet me. This is comforting to me and my travel companions.
One feature which I came to love within a few weeks of paying for the service is that it monitors for fare refunds. Specifically, I received an email alerting me that a Southwest Airlines flight had gone down in cost. I called Southwest and within minutes had a credit for $50+ dollars. TripIt Pro paid for itself right then and there.
The list of Free vs Pro features is long. Some of the items I like include transportation options upon arrival, seeing which plane you are on, where you booked (sometimes I just can’t recall through which service I bought my ticket through), what class of service and even my carbon footprint.
Where TripIt really shines is in complex travel aggregation: My family and I are going to a wedding in Hungary in May from LAX and NYC and then some of us go on to Italy while others go home. With TripIt, I can see our 13 flights, 2 AirBnBs, 5 hotels, 2 car reservations… in real time in one place complete with confirmation numbers, seat info, addresses and other details. Plus, with TripIt Pro I will be notified if any of our flights are delayed and can act quickly — often before the airline notifies me. “Honey, your flight is delayed 2 hours. Go to the following Lounge at gate XYZ and relax”. This kind of oversight combined with the visual overview (all in one place) is invaluable to me.
I book flights for the entire family including my mom who lives in a different time zone. She doesn’t know how to check in for a flight online so I appreciate the email reminders and push notification from the app that tells me when to check in. In this way, I rarely miss checking in (for her, me, us…) right on time.
Try It. I’m 99.9% Sure You’ll Like It
I could go on and on about TripIt Pro, but honestly, just try it yourself. I would be surprised if you don’t like it especially if you need to keep other people updated about your travel arrangements. You can trial TripIt Pro for free for 30 days and if you like it, keep the $49 subscription or downgrade or drop it completely. It paid for itself within two weeks for me. TripIt Pro has had very high ROI — it’s been paying off every day as I make new travel plans, itineraries adjust or dang it, the airlines/weather gods/FAA force flight changes upon me. Travel well!