TripIt (for iPhone) review

The TripIt iPhone app is a lightweight front end for a powerful itinerary organizer. With some better design, and a less heavy-handed emphasis on shelling out for a hefty Pro upgrade, it could be a go-to for any traveler.
Photo of TripIt (for iPhone)

While the TSA may be the weary globe trotter’s modern adversary, a mess of confirmation numbers spread out among different websites and emails doesn’t help either. The TripIt mobile app (free, ad supported) aims to make traveling just a little easier by taking all your disparate trip information and putting it into one easily accessible spot on your iPhone.

The app’s greatest strength is the ease with which it gathers your reservation information, which would be difficult to replicate even with a carefully curated series of email folders. I was truly impressed by the reliability of the importing process, especially when I discovered that the app had a better idea of where to pick up my rental car than I did.

TripIt in Action
To enter your travel information, simply forward digital itineraries to a special TripIt email address and the service “automagically” pushes them to your iPhone. You can do this with flight, hotel, rental car, and even restaurant information—or any combination of thereof. TripIt can even keep a watchful eye for new reservations once you’ve given it access to your email account. It’s seamless, but it also requires giving up a disconcerting amount of personal information.

Once TripIt has your information and bookings, the app keeps your travel plans organized, storing itineraries offline for quick access. Within one tap of the app’s homescreen, travelers can find the time of their flights, gate location, and where they’ll be headed next. You can also export your itineraries to other apps, as well as email them to friends, family, or whoever has volunteered to pick you up from the airport. There are also useful extras, like airport maps and navigation information from Apple’s Maps app.

TripIt also has a suite of unique tools for business travelers. Employers can coordinate travel for all their employees and keep an entire workforce up to date on the plans. TripIt also has tight integration with other business travel apps such as SmartExpense, which can spit out an expense report based on your TripIt information.

Pricey Premium and Other Problems
For serious travelers, TripIt offers a paid Pro option for a whopping $48.99 per year, which is separate from its business offerings. Pro users have access to reward point tracking, to help you make the most of those finicky flyer miles, along with live flight status updates and a few other special features. Pro users can also search for alternate flights should something go wrong, and have travel updates pushed automatically to a user-defined list of friends. Though these are powerful capabilities, they are definitely best suited for a frequent flyers and probably overkill for casual travelers.

Though TripIt is very useful even without the paid membership, the app still displays icons for the Pro content, and tapping on any of these features without a Pro account pulls up a full-screen ad to upgrade within the app. In fact, there are so many Pro-only icons that using the app feels like navigating a minefield. Though pushing in-app upgrades is fairly common it is particularly irritating with the Tripit app because a Pro account is so expensive. Confusingly, TripIt also has a $3.99 non-Pro version of the app which removes the unobtrusive banner ads of the free version but still pushes a Pro account.

The emphasis on Pro features is natural since TripIt definitely feels like a professional app, and while the design is highly functional it also looks uninspired. When using the app without a Pro account, so much of the space is wasted with locked options that it seems empty and inelegant. It would be nice to see TripIt’s powerful functionality married to a more beautiful interface.

Though the emphasis the app places on upgrading to the Pro service does feel pushy, the core functions of the TripIt service are solid. If you often find yourself abroad and can endure the app’s prodding for cash, then TripIt may be a worthy companion.

More iPhone App Reviews:

Type Personal
Free Yes

The TripIt iPhone app is a lightweight front end for a powerful itinerary organizer. With some better design, and a less heavy-handed emphasis on shelling out for a hefty Pro upgrade, it could be a go-to for any traveler.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc