Travel SOS: How TripIt helped Kay out of a jam

Kay O’Sullivan recently had her own travel SOS, but this handy app saved her.

Travel SOS: How TripIt helped Kay out of a jam

Kay O’Sullivan is no accidental tourist. More than a decade ago, she decided to combine two of her favourite things – journalism and travel – and become a travel writer. Since then, she has written about travel for numerous papers, magazines and on the internet, both here and internationally.

Travel writer Kay O'Sullivan, who had her own Travel SOS recently, reckons she'd still be stuck in Verona airport rather than breathing in the fresh air of the Dolomites without this handy app.

TripIt is the one thing I never leave home without. Nor should you. The most basic explanation is that TripIt is an itinerary app, that I would also describe as a lifesaver … but more on that later.

Unlike the old days when a travel agent would organise everything and provide a detailed itinerary of what, when, where and how you were travelling, today most of us end up with a bunch of confirmation emails that take up a lot of space in our hand luggage or have to be manually added to an online calendar. 

Not anymore, if you've got TripIt.



How TripIt works is that you email your travel confirmation emails, be they from travel agents, airlines, hotels, tour companies, trains, ships, whatever, to TripIt and the emails are collated into one itinerary that almost instantaneously bounces back to you. It truly is as simple as that. Every detail about the booking is recorded in the app, which you get from the App Store, or you can upload the itinerary onto the calendar on your device. I used to do both but have found that the app is all I need.

You don't have to wait until you have all your trip details together, so you can send the email confirmations to TripIt as they come in and your itinerary will be updated accordingly.

The itinerary lists every detail that you could possibly need about your travels. With flights, TripIt records the booking reference number, the departure and arrival times of your flights, including your seat number if you have chosen it, which terminal you are leaving from, and whether it's a non-stop flight.

With hotel bookings, you get addresses, check-in and out times, a map and directions via Google maps, and the phone number for hotels, which you can ring with a touch if you are accessing the app on your phone – which I would recommend. (Again, more on that later.)

Some arrangements you do have to input yourself. For example, I booked a walking trip to the Dolomites through an Australian company that is the designated agent for an English mob. I sent the confirmation from the Australian company to TripIt and got a reply saying that it couldn't be added, so I added it myself. This was not an onerous task given how clever the design is.

I added the time and place where I was being picked up - Verona airport, the flight details of the group I was joining, as most were coming from London for the trip, and, crucially, the emergency number if anything went wrong. Which is exactly what happened, unfortunately.

I am writing this while sitting at Verona airport. I missed the transport to Selva in the Val Gardena region of the Dolomites some 200kms away from Verona. The details as to why aren't exactly clear yet but it appears to be a simple case of a failure of communicate to me that the English group was coming on an earlier plane.

When it became apparent I had been left, I panicked, of course. Especially when I was told by one of the airport staff the journey to my destination would involve at least three buses and two trains, which may or not have a seat for me.

I resisted the urge to run to the bar, and opened up the TripIt app instead, where I found the emergency number for the English tour company. Ten minutes later they had organised their transport team to pick me up. I was told to get some lunch, and keep the receipts as they'd reimburse me. And, yes, I did have that glass of wine with my lunch … and kept the receipt for that too.

But wait, there's more. TripIt is free. You can buy a pro version of TripIt which has a few more fancy gizmos, such as updating flight information and letting you know which gate your flight is leaving from, but it tends to eat up data – which as we all know is something to be avoided at all costs.

So, let me reiterate, don't leave home without TripIt. It won't cost you anything and could even save your trip.

TripIt is available for Apple and Android devices.

Do you have a travel question for Kay? If so, email your Travel SOS to [email protected]



    To make a comment, please register or login
    Brett (no longer) in China
    8th Oct 2016
    Bugger! Just back from a 50 day tour of Europe and the UK, organised by ourselves. This would have been brilliant! Flights, trains, buses, hotels, hire car . . .
    A lot of paperwork!
    Would probably still carry a hard copy, for those times of flat batteries, no phone reception (if required), but would have meant both of us could have had the full itinerary on our phones, rather than a photo of the paper version.
    I've downloaded it anyway, will give it a try on less complicated trips.
    8th Oct 2016
    If this is to be used online only ("chews through data") pretty useless in places with no or very very slow internet e.g Cuba which is where you might really need it!
    Waiting to retire at 70
    9th Oct 2016
    TripIt's claim, and those of Google Travel, that it can extract your travel confirmations automatically from you emails is BS. Both apps are is TOTALLY unreliable in this regard.

    "Journalists" writing such rubbish need to follow their own industry's professional standards, in particular, their obligation to let a reader know their relationship with the supplier of a product or service.

    The publisher of such articles from these sources is considered 'fraud' in some places around the world.
    Debbie McTaggart
    10th Oct 2016
    Kay O'Sullivan is an incredibly accomplished travel writer who would not put her name to an article that wasn't truthful. I suggest you consider the tone of your comments before bringing into question the integrity of someone's professionalism. If you don't agree with what is being written due to personal experience then by all means, provide an example but to simply attack based on no supporting evidence is not in the spirit of commenting on our site.

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