Itinerary Planning Apps Review
[This post was posted after the trip, for various reasons]
OK. We’re going sailing in 2 weeks’ time. We’re currently coordinating flights, cars, hotels, etc…. I have a shared Google doc where I post URLs and links to interesting sites and do price comparisons. And so I decided to check for an app that does this for us.
Right now, I’m checking out 3 (found via a quick google for “alternatives to plannr”):
So – I’m going to plan the itinerary with all three, and see how I go.
OK – first problem:
Plannr only supports a shortlist of European destinations. Evidently they have to manually focus on certain places for affiliated sources/partners, and so that’s no use for my sailing holiday in Australia. Plannr – dumped.
Nonetheless, I quickly checked out using it for San Francisco. The URL gives a clue as to how it works:
Basically, it’s pre-selected attractions and locations, based on pre-defined options. You can re-order, add and remove. If your starting point is “let’s see <name popular city here>”, and have little idea what you want to see, then it seems to be an excellent way to get a starting point – and the UI is verrry nice.
However. I like to think for myself, am off the beaten track, and so Plannr is out.
Tripwiser is doing a better job in terms of location support; anything in Google, it seems:
OK, let’s add our sailing trip. Oh… no….
Hmm. Nice Web 1.0 UI. Must have been in Beta a long time!
Let’s keep going, anyway…. Awww…..
So, Tripwiser can only handle major cities. Anything off the beaten track is unavailable. #fail!
Clicking the ‘Add to Duffel’ bookmark link provided, gives a nice UI that parses out key data
And there we go. I also tried creating a new item within Duffel itself, with just the URL, but that bombed (the empty note, right)
I just noticed Duffle defaults to public trip sharing. Not cool.
Adding a new activity to Duffel is as simple as clicking the bookmark. Sailing, added. Switch to my Duffel board, and… hang on, where is it??
OK – there it is. Interesting automatic choice of picture!
OK – let’s drop that into the calendar
How do I span the activity across days… Oh, I don’t’…
OK, let’s turn it into transportation as well…. Wow. Back to text entry – where are the dropdowns and calendars?
Hmm… I can’t span the transport over more than a day as well? And no times? No order? This is not going well.
OK. How do I update the location in Duffel?
Oh… I can’t, at least, not from the mini map. I guess I have to open Google maps elsewhere…
So… Duffel does at least allow non-city locations, and generally has a good structure: you browse around, adding web pages to your pinboard as you go, and then drop them into the relevant days. Hence, it’s good for brainstorming, but then poor at turning that into the detailed structure that you may need when actually trying to plan how to stay at A, do B, C, D, see E and F, travel to G, and still make your scheduled flight at H.
And so.. is there nothing that will help us plan our trip?
Well…… there is one…
Tripit isn’t great for brainstorming holidays, as it’s intended for very structured data from flight booking emails; the very structure that makes it great for tracking precise dates, times, and places, makes it a lot of work to ‘throw’ ideas into it.
However – at least it does handle times, dates, and pretty much anything you bother to enter into it, which is handy when you actually have to plan.
It still can’t handle multi-day activities. But we can lodge the sailing as a cruise, which is multiday
TripIt, of course, syncs directly into our shared calendar as an .ICS file subscription, so you can see all the entries in your iPhone without having to do anything else (something none of these other apps will do).
In the end, we put our major events: accommodation, flights, major trips – in TripIt, and ended up using Duffel to ‘throw’ other ideas into a day-by-day format. Duffel definitely has potential – and so we chose to use it in substitution to our usual “put it all in an email” or “copy and paste all the links into a shared Google doc” – but it remains to be seen whether they’ll continue developing it to the point where it’s really streamlined for its purpose.