So, perhaps you were very very good for Santa last year and your reward was a lovely new tablet or phone maybe you just feel the need to detox and refresh your list of applications for the new year and see what’s new and what you really need. Either way, we get a lot of questions via email@example.com or @casslar, about what are the best apps available for enhancing expat life. So we’re starting a new occasional series today to look at some good ones.
A lot of us living on the Costas find ourselves having to pop back and forth whether for business or pleasure, and one app that really helps to keep all your travel plans organised well is Tripit. This app built by Concur is available for a multitude of different devices and platforms, and is most easily signed up for and set up on your main computer – then you can download it for your mobile devices.
It bills itself as an itinerary manager, and basically it acts as a filing system and itinerary generator for all your travel plans. It is very simple to use: whenever you book a flight, train trip, bus trip or hotel simply forward the confirmation email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can even set the application to automatically scan your inbox for travel confirmation documents, provided you use certain kinds of webmail – and feel 100% confident about giving the application permission to do so, about which I cannot comment as my main travel planning mailbox does not use a compatible webmail service. Forwarding in is really not a problem.
When you log back in to Tripit- on your computer or your phone or whatever – you will see details of your journeys, and can connect them together into trips. For example if you are flying out by one airline and back by another, and you have some car hire and train travel in between times just stitch them together into a single itinerary.
Anything it cannot work into an itinerary is kept unfiled within the application and you can usually tweak it and paste it in to the right bit OK – it cannot make head nor tail of ALSA confirmation emails for example, but then who can?
Once your travel plans are organised within a Tripit itinerary this can easily be shared with others by email – the people you are travelling with, the relatives who keep asking you what time you are going to arrive, or the car hire service who are supposed to be tracking and meeting your flight. You can email them whole itineraries or just relevant info such as the specific flight they are meeting.
The summary of your flight in Tripit in fact shows far more information than the email you get from the airline, curiously. As well as confirming your seat number, reservation code and flight number , and what you paid for the flight itself, there’s a wealth of other details. Perhaps you don’t really need to know the exact model of the plane you are travelling in, or the exact distance from Alicante to Gatwick (it’s 1,429 km apparently), but Tripit knows!
It also states an arrival time, which I defy you to find on the airline’s website anywhere – very useful for planning onward travel or car rental, or being met by relatives, who also need to know what terminal you are going to pitch up at. You will find arrival timing particularly helpful if you regularly use a certain Irish airline which is world famous for massively over-declaring their flight times (in order to claim inflated punctuality statistics and blast a particularly annoying trumpet sound effect every time they accomplish ‘yet another on-time flight’).
As with every application of its generation there are lots of social elements including Facebook login and sharing. Regular readers will know me for a total social junkie as a rule who enjoys sharing many of life’s rich elements, however, I have not connected Tripit with Facebook. It doesn’t make you do so and in fact its not pushy about it, and I would be very wary of sharing information about travel that clearly signposts to others that you will be away from home. I have never heard about any specific break-ins or burglaries as a result of sharing travel itineraries in this way, but why take the risk? Email-only sharing gives you complete control instead.
Tripit’s revenue model is the classic ‘freemium’ service, whereby most of its functionality is available without restriction or charge to an infinitely-scalable number of users – whilst also offering a ‘pro’ version you can choose to upgrade to at any point. I travel a fair bit and have trialed Tripit Pro, however I let it go – most of the advantages appear to be geared very strongly towards business travellers based in the US.
For $49 – around €30 – per year, you can track Airmiles, get real-time alerts of things like gate changes or delays, and track availability of seats and price changes: with some airlines you can claim a refund if your flight price drops after you paid for it, but not the ones I use, nor can I really make much use of Regis business lounges at my local airports.
The only feature I really found useful a few years back was the free alert service, but now most of the low-cost airlines have their own free apps which do this now and they work very well – recently the Easyjet app alerted me of a gate change several minutes ahead of the display at the airport.
But if you travel back and forth from the UK or within Spain you will find the free version of Tripit.com a very useful and worthwhile download from your appstore and online. Happy travels!
Costa Connected, for Costa Blanca News, January 10th 2014 ©Maya Middlemiss, Casslar Consulting SL