The Mrs. and I are headed out to California this week for some R&R, though obviously I’ll be connected most of the time, albeit less so than normal. This is the first personal trip that I’ve taken in a while, and it was booked, planned, mapped out, etc, all online this time around. While you would think that planning and booking a trip online would be a piece of cake in this day and age, the sad reality is that it’s really not. Sure, you can easily use a single site to do it all, but none are very comprehensive guides – there’s always something missing.
So then, what did I use for this trip? Mostly, a combination of three tools, all of which have thus far, proved to be a great solution. TravelMuse, Tripit, and SociaLight.
TravelMuse is something I found out about through Jonathan Greene, and it’s basically an online planning tool that allows you to pull content from anywhere on the net and organize it on your trip. What’s even better is that it’s collaborative – meaning I could invite the Mrs. to setup an account, and from there she was able to look at the trip thus far, add her thoughts, and we could do it online, at different times. Brilliant. There’s even a handy bookmarklet that allowed me to add things from other services – such as SociaLight.
Speaking of, SociaLight is one of a few LBS services that has MASSIVE potential – if only they could release a real mobile client for something other than the iPhone. Basically, with SociaLight, when you’re out and about, you can attach a geo-tagged ‘sticky’ note to a specific location, such as a bar or nightclub. Others can then browse these when they’re in the area.
I’ve gotten ahold of the private beta JAVA app, and it works great – for a java app. Unfortunately, it’s not publicly available, and even if it was, it hasn’t been updated since earlier this year, so it still has all kinds of alpha bugs. In any case, SociaLight allowed me to browse through the existing tags in San Francisco and other areas to find a few restaurants to check out, and even helped us pick a hotel.
Once we got everything booked, I ended up with 4 confirmation emails – one for the flights, two for the hotels, and one for the car rental place. What a mess these are, trying to figure out which is which in my inbox, and then trying to get the correct information out of the email, with all the various reservation numbers and dates and whatnot.
This is where Tripit helped out tremendously. After registering my email address, I simply forwarded those confirmation emails to the Tripit email address. The service pulls out all of the appropritate details – times, dates, reservation numbers, addresses, phone numbers, etc – and puts them in a nice easy timeline, available from any web browser. The best part, in my opinion, is that any web browser includes that of my Nokia S60-powered smartphones. I simply added ‘Tripit’ as a personal link on my Keytoss homepage and wa-la – instant access to my reservations in a nice, easy-to-read format with no muss, no fuss. You can even pull that into your Outlook, if you really wanted to.
Tripit also allows you to quickly get links to appropriate side-services. When viewing my airline confirmation in Tripit, I can easily click to check where our seats are, and if they’re bad (which they were) I can easily click through to American Airlines to change our seat reservations. Brilliant.
That’s just leading up to the trip – we actually depart on Wednesday, so I’ll be able to test out exactly how well these various services – specifically SociaLight and Tripit work when totally mobile.
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