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Tripping the Life Fantastic | Travel True
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Tripping the Life Fantastic

Ah, the good old days.

Alright, it’s time to share one of my absolute favorite travel tools. Traveling frequently, especially when you are trying to travel cheaply, can quickly overwhelm you with flights and connections. After your third delayed flight in a day, trying to orient yourself in a new airport and make it to another new flight on time when you don’t even speak the local language can be very confusing and disorienting, to say the least. Trying to sort through all of those flight printouts while figuring out what time it is in this part of the world is something I’d rather not do, especially when I’m discombobulated from the flight and just want to go see the city until it’s time to pass out.

TripIt takes care of all of this annoying, constantly shifting paperwork, and it’s completely free. It’s dead simple, does all of the work for you, and does it well.

Whenever you get that obligatory email confirmation of your flight/hotel/train/piggyback ride, just forward it to plans@tripit.com (after signing up) and it will automatically pull out everything you need, reformatting it into something you can actually read. Not only that, it uses that information to automatically provide your seat layouts, possible flight delays, local maps, and directions for everywhere you are going.

It also has a nifty social aspect, where you can link to friends and see who will be traveling near you that you may not have expected. More than a few times I’ve found out someone would be near me and had an unexpected great night out on the town with an old friend. Did I mention this is all free?

Here is a quick sample of my end-of-the year last year. Nice and compact, all in one glanceable place.

Why I'm discombobulated

Where this really gets fun is if you have a smartphone. They have an app for every major smartphone on the market that allows you to access all of this information on the fly, so you never have to print anything and you have all of your information at your fingertips. You never have to remember any of the details again, and it even keeps a history of all of your trips for easy access when customs asks you where you’ve been and what the flight numbers were. No more digging through all of your pockets hoping you didn’t throw away your ticket stub from that flight a week ago while the officer stares you down.

TripIt does have a paid version ($75 per year) that will automatically check flights, and if one gets delayed it will send you an SMS to let you know when and where to go. This could be handy if you don’t have a smartphone, as all of the information comes directly to you. However, if you do have a smartphone, FlightTrack Pro uses your existing TripIt account to send you the same updates, right when they happen, so you never have to worry about rushing to the gate for a flight that was delayed by a few hours. It’s only $10 (lifetime), which is an amazing price for so much worry being taken away, and well worth it the first time you get a heads up that you need to call the airline to change a flight before anyone else finds out the connection was cancelled.

I’m always on the lookout for fast, cheap ways to make travel simpler and more convenient to focus on the adventure instead of the logistics. Most of the options out there are complicated, expensive, or just don’t provide anything useful. TripIt is one of those rare exceptions that provides so much for free that I always gush about it to fellow travelers.

Sign up, and make me a friend. Maybe we will serendipitously end up in the same city and find an unexpected adventure.

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