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Travel Apps To Keep You on Track

In this post we’ll take a look at two great travel apps that can simplify the management of your travel plans.  I’ve used the first one extensively for the last couple of years and have started to utilize and compare it to the second app recently as my company’s new travel agency promoted its use.  The two apps are:

I’ve logged enough miles to remember a time before smart phones and mobile GPS units.  I used to depend on printed directions and maps from Mapquest, just one step ahead of the Rand McNally Atlas.  My needs at the time were mostly for business travel. Before each trip I would:

  1. Print my boarding pass.  I have always used e-tickets for flights when and where available.
  2. Print my Mapquest directions, Google Maps wasn’t out yet…
  3. Print out the emails from my travel agent with the contact info and confirmation numbers for hotel and rental car
  4. I would then file all of the paper work in a transparent folder slick.    I was “typically” very organized but I have to admit there were times when – I got lost, couldn’t locate confirmation numbers, or was just rushed and couldn’t pull all of this together before departure.

Fast forward to ~2011, smart phone technology, mobile gps, and travel apps and how things have changed for the better!  Let me walk you through my current process:

  1. I either book my itinerary via a smart phone app provided by my travel agency, book online, or call the travel agency 1-800 number to book my travel plans.  Typically, in this order although talking with an agent on the phone is probably the quickest way to get everything arranged and a must have for when I fat finger something on my iPhone.
  2. Next I receive a confirmation email from my travel agency and it is either auto-forwarded or I manually forward the email to my “travel automation” app of choice, e.g. trips@kayak.com, or trips@tripcase.com.
  3. The travel app services parse the itinerary, organize it, and enrich the components with key information such as confirmations numbers, phone numbers, and directions.
  4. I view and manage “My Trips” leading up to a trip, while in transit, and in some cases refer back to past trips (for a copy of a receipt) all via my iPhone using one of these apps.
  5. Finally, I have my travel automation tools setup to auto forward my itinerary to my wife, and can forward it on to others as needed to keep everyone in the know regarding my travel plans.

I haven’t had to revert back to the old process except for one exception, there have been instances when my smartphone has run out of juice.  Anyone that uses a smartphone has gone through this and had that panicked feeling.  Battery technology has come a long ways and people who depend on their devices have learned to charge up as needed.  Airports and airlines have also figured this out and typically offer mobile charging stations.  I’ve considered investing in a mobile recharging battery pack but it hasn’t come to that yet.

Here’s the run down of key features and links to where you can find the two apps featured here:

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So who is the winner?  It depends.  Overall I still depend on Kayak.  It’s the app I started with, I know it well and it has a broader set of features and tools.  Tripcase is a strong runner up though given it’s updated and more refined user experience.  If you don’t use travel automation tools like these apps either will provide you with huge value!  Here are a couple additional tidbits on the Kayak App:

  • Searching for Flights, Hotel, and Car including saved price alerts.  Kayak has been a pioneer in this area by supporting faceted search that allows their users to filter results by a myriad of different attributes (e.g. price, time, flight class, flight stops, location or “near me” searches, etc.).  Booking occurs direct through Kayak’s affiliate partners.
  • Flight tracker to check the status of flights both my own and people I’m watching out for.
  • Flight status alerts sent via email, SMS Text notifying me of key events (e.g. flight delays, gate changes, baggage claim, etc.).  Note – Kayak and Tripcase also offer device oriented alerts.  Kayak supports an in App Notifications feature, where as Tripcase has integrated with iOS’s Notification Center (i.e. swipe down top to bottom on the iPhone) a very cool implementation detail.

If you use these apps or have recommendations for other apps that you have found useful I’d love to hear about them.  Drop a comment below.

Safe Travels!
-Scott

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