The other day I was talking to a group of attoneys about some of the most useful apps on my iPhone and I mentioned TripIt. Soon thereafter, I realized that I've never posted a review of TripIt on iPhone J.D. This review is long overdue because TripIt has long been one of my favorite apps on my iPhone. The TripIt app is free (as noted below there is also a $0.99 version) but to use it you need to sign up for an account. The TripIt website offers both a free account and a $49/year TripIt Pro account. I use the free account, and the free account is all that you need to use almost all of the features in the iPhone app. The Pro account offers flight status alerts — and as noted below, I have another recommendation for that — and other tools and services such as finding alternate flights.
Once you create a TripIt account on the website, TripIt knows your email address. This is critical because whenever you make travel plans with an airline, hotel, car rental service, etc. and the vendor sends you an email with your travel details and confirmation number, you simply forward that email to firstname.lastname@example.org. TripIt knows how to understand all of those emails and automatically puts together a travel itinerary. (TripIt understands emails from over 200 airlines, over 200 hotels, over 60 rental car companies — just about every service you are likely to use.) It also understands that when travel occurs at the same time that it should organize trips. Thus, if you forward an email with plane travel on the 1st and the 4th, a hotel during those same dates, and a car rental during those same dates, TripIt automatically puts it all together into one trip.
From there you can manage your trip on the TripIt website, but I rarely do so. Instead I just use the TripIt app on my iPhone. When you launch the app it automatically downloads all of your upcoming travel itineraries (and your prior travel) into the app. And this is the real beauty of TripIt. You have a central location on your iPhone with everything that you need to know about your upcoming trips — your airline flight numbers, your hotel confirmation numbers, the address and phone number of the hotel, maps that show you where the hotel is located, etc. Having everything in one location is so much easier than having to hunt through emails to find a confirmation number.
For example, earlier this year, I traveled to Chicago to speak at ABA TECHSHOW. I took a flight from New Orleans to Chicago, stayed at the Chicago Hilton, and then my family met me up there and we all took the overnight train back home from Chicago to New Orleans. (We had a sleeper car on the City of New Orleans train made famous by the Arlo Guthrie song of the same name — "Good morning America how are you?" — and I had as much fun on the train as my kids did.) After I simply forwarded the confirmation emails to TripIt, Tript assembled all of the plans into a trip itinerary without me having to do any extra work:
You can tap on either of the legs of the plane flight to get more details:
And you can tap on the hotel or train entries to get more details:
TripIt also offers a $0.99 version of the app that has no ads. I never found the ads obnoxious, so the free version may be all that you need, but frankly I didn't even realize there was a paid version of this app until I started to write this review. I just downloaded it a few minutes ago — why not pay a buck for something so useful? — and I already see that without the ads you can often see one more row of information without having to scroll, which is nice and I think is worth a dollar. If you're not sure, just start with the free version.
If that was all that TripIt did, that would be enough for me to love it. It remembers all of the details of my travel so that I don't need to worry about it, and everything is there on my iPhone when I need it. But you can also tell TripIt to give other services (that you select) access to your travel details. I use a great $9.99 app called FlightTrack Pro that always knows all of my travel plans (because it connects to TripIt). FlightTrack Pro does a fantastic job of keeping track of flight details such as gate changes, flight delays and cancellations, etc. And it usually knows the details before they are even announced to other travelers. So I have frequently been waiting for a flight at a gate when FlightTrack Pro alerts me that my flight is delayed or the departure gate has changed several minutes before the gate agent announces the changes to others. Thus, I am the first to know that I have extra time to go get a snack or I should start looking for a seat at a different gate. I believe that TripIt Pro offers many of those same features, but rather than pay $49/year I've been happy with my one-time purchase of FlightTrack Pro years ago.
My point here is not to plug FlightTrack Pro — although it is a great app — but simply to mention that if you want to use other travel apps on your iPhone or iPad, there is a good chance that they will integrate with TripIt because the service is so popular. Click here to see the huge list of other apps and services that work with TripIt.
And TripIt offers lots of other features that I haven't even tried yet. For example, if you use Gmail, you can give TripIt permission to automatically find travel-related emails in your inbox and create itineraries for you, saving you the step of forwarding emails (not that this step takes more than a second or two of my time anyway). And there are tools to put trips on your calendar, share trip details with others, etc.
TripIt also works on the iPad, although I must admit that I don't use it that much. When I am traveling, I'm on the go, and my iPhone in my pocket is just much more convenenient to use. Having said that, sometimes I'll be using my iPad for another purpose and I'll want to check a trip detail, so it is nice to also have the TripIt app there.
If you use a travel agent or similar service to plan and monitor all of your travel, perhaps you don't need TripIt. But if you don't already have someone else handling the grunt work for you, TripIt is an incredibly useful and free service and app. Every single time that I travel, I find myself using and appreciating this app.
Click here to get TripIt (free):
Click here to get TripIt with no ads ($0.99):
Click here to get FlightTrack Pro ($9.99):