I received an evaluation copy of TripIt Pro several months ago. Unfortunately, I had to cancel the first trip after that. And the one after that as well. But I have had time to explore the latest version of TripIt Pro, which now sits ready to support a trip in July 2022. Earlier versions of the service proved valuable in trips across the globe. TripIt offers value before trips and during them. The services insights help subscribers realize how many adventures they have shared. A free version will serve for most, while a Pro version at $49 will likely find more than one way to pay for itself.
What is TripIt?
TripIt is the ultimate travel companion for travels, either business or casual. I find it not only the ultimate travel companion but an essential one in these days of travel uncertainty.
At its root, TripIt put all travel documents in one place. No need to find e-mails, screenshots or anything else. Just open TripIt and the content is there.
That all of your content exists in TripIt presupposes you placed it there. TripIt makes capturing traveling information easy by tying personal e-mail addresses to a profile. Simply send itineraries to firstname.lastname@example.org and most of the time, TripIt’s content parsers populate the database for the trip. Based on days and locations, TripIt combines information, such as airfare, hotel, and rental car, without manually bringing them together.
To make it even easier, TripIt also connects to inboxes, scanning them for travel information and putting that information into the database without the owner’s intervention.
The typical name for a trip starts off with either the destination or the starting point and destination plus the dates, depending on which document creates a new record. All of that information is easy to edit.
The remainder of the documents, from maps or photos or PDFs, can all be integrated with TripIt manually. Sometimes I travel so much that I forget which room I’m in on any given night. I take a picture of the door when I get to the hotel and associate that with the hotel reservation.
TripIt also offers a doubly secure section that requires a second long-in or facial recognition to access and capture all of the data associated with one’s driver’s license and passport.
TripIt is a service, not just an app. So, if all of your documents are stolen, along with your phone, you can still recover all of your information, including your passport information, by logging into your TripIt account.
The service also offers travel insights, some critical, some for fun, or for personal information. For current travel, its COVID-19 Travel Guidance offers the latest information on restrictions and requirements at destinations, starting at the local airport.
On the fun side, TripIt delivers travel statistics. They have slowed appreciably over the last two years but will hopefully pick up soon.
And for environmentally conscious travelers TripIt offers a view of a flight’s carbon footprint.
And with TripIt no more manually typing travel entries into your calendar. Simply subscribe to the TripIt feed and all travel plans show up on a Google or Microsoft calendar.
How well does TripIt work?
I have never had TripIt fail me on the road. Everything I put into TripIt was easily accessed. I had every number and reference, so it didn’t matter what the hotel, rental car company, car service, or airline I was looking for, I had it.
Some features do require basic setup, but most of it consists of either entering an e-mail address or cutting and pasting a string. TripIt is not a tool that requires technical prowess beyond casual familiarity with the target operating system.
iPad users will enjoy a rich, landscape experience that understands the value of the iPad’s real estate and honors it with a native app rather than a stretched iPhone app.
Can TripIt be improved?
TripIt and parent company Concur are constantly updating their product. Recent months updates include the launch of a Spanish version, offered different alert languages, an update to their itinerary logic for shorter trips, implemented dark mode on Android, UI updates for clarity, and visualized travel statistics. Those updates demonstrate customer listening and a continued commitment to new features and quality improvements.
The only thing I find annoying in TripIt is the lack of deep integration with its records. For instance, when I’m putting in my birthday for a passport or driver’s license, I should only enter it once, ideally in my profile (that is, the profile should be extended to include this kind of common metadata—even better, it should connect with the owner’s record in the contact app).
The same is true of travel contacts, which should default to pulling them from the contacts database on the device.
TripIt’s setup experience would improve with metadata updates focused on the traveler. I’d also like to see image fields on records like passports, TSA letters, and licenses, so travelers have a complete record of their documents should they be lost.
On the services side, some reservation formats don’t work well with the parser. Don’t assume that if you sent a document to TripIt that it was automagically put into the database. Read the messages from them. Some will indicate that the document was captured but could not be read. When that happens, you need to manually intervene to create the write record type and input some metadata.
This issue occurs rarely, and usually with content from smaller companies that TripIt doesn’t see as often as it does a Marriott or an American Airlines. Documents that can’t be read show up in the unfiled section of the app for disposition.
Beyond that, TripIt delivers on its promises with a solid experience.
Why should I go TripIt Pro?
Although I did not take my last two trips, Tripit Pro caught price changes (Fare Tracker) on both trips. When I called Alaska Airlines they confirmed the price changes and credited me back the difference. That feature alone is worth the pro upgrade even for infrequent travelers.
Other TripIt Pro features include Go Now, which looks at traffic to the airport and at the airport, providing a comfortable window to arrive at the airport and get through the various lines.
For those who need to rethink a booking, Alternative Flights, right in the travel record, offer information about alternative paths.
And in reference to paths, arriving at a new airport often equates to frustration that gets exacerbated especially after getting lost. TripIt Pro helps subscribers navigate an unfamiliar airport.
And if you like a good seat, Pro offers Seat Tracker to let you know when a better seat becomes available. TripIt will not change the seat for you, so it is incumbent on the traveler to make the change. More legroom is always a gift.
TripIt Pro will also prompt travelers for check-ins, automatically share travel information with groups of friends, family, or colleagues, tracks travel reward points, and provides background information on international destinations.
Flight price reductions will certainly make TripIt Pro useful to occasional travelers, but meaningful price reductions will likely be rare and non-predictable, so it may not prove its worth in all instances instantaneously. For frequent travelers, however, seat changes alone may make TripIt Pro a worthy upgrade, with all of the other management features gravy on the legroom (I’m sticking with that metaphor regardless of what Grammarly recommends).
TripIt Pro: The Bottom Line
Every traveler should use the free version of TripIt. Having all your travel documents in one place offers peace of mind. Frequent travelers should have no issue justifying the $49 annual fee for Pro. With extra seat costs and frequent price changes, a single upgrade or refund easily covers the cost—and of course, if you travel frequently, the $49 is probably also a tax write-off.
I just booked a trip to San Diego for Comic-Con International where I will be leading a panel on the science in science fiction. I hope that this trip takes place. And if it does, you can rest assured that TripIt will play a key role in making the trip as smooth as possible.
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