Episode 195: October 18, 2011
by Stever Robbins
In honor of our new podcaster, Tech Talker, today I'll be sharing the best online technology that makes travel quick and easy.
Once upon a time, we had travel agents. Travel agents were friendly people who would book our travel and make sure everything went smoothly. They would even give us an itinerary, showing us where to go and when. Back then, the airlines remembered that passengers were human beings, treated us nicely, and didn't nickel-and-dime us when it came to pillows, or leg room, or snacks. On the other hand, we didn't have the TSA, which now offers a few lucky winners a free body massage before they get on the plane.
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Along came the internet, and some bright young geek out there decided that our lives would be better off if we had to spend our own precious time and attention booking every aspect of travel for ourselves. Yeah, I know, some people are really into that kind of thing. Not me. I like being places, not getting places, and I especially don’t like doing the clerical work needed to get me there. Comparison shop? Excuse me?! I don't have the time; I'm late for my manicure. (It's the 21st century guys, get with the program, manicures for men are totally hip.)
Here are my 4 Quick and Dirty Tips for using the web to make your air travel easy:
Tip #1: Use Kayak to Find Flights
My favorite travel site is Kayak.com. Kayak is like that nice travel agent, except that Kayak doesn't actually care about you and won't make nice conversation. What it will do is ruthlessly help you find the best flights, ever.
You give Kayak your travel dates and times. Kayak then searches a gazillion databases and comes back with the best deals. It gives you a control panel where you can play with the travel dates, decide how many stops are OK on the flight, and find the combination of price and flexibility that meets your needs. Instead of wasting lots of time chatting with the friendly travel attendant, you'll waste lots of time trying every possible combination of options so you can save that critical $3.92 on your ticket. Kayak is just a search engine, so once it finds your flights, it connects you to ticketing sites directly to book your tickets.
Tip #2: Use SeatGuru to Pick Your Seats
Most airlines now let you choose your seats on your flight. There's no more useful site than SeatGuru to help you decide which seats you want. SeatGuru knows the exact type, layout, and amenities of the planes associated with each flight. It tells you about legroom—ideal if you're 7'2" or hope to be someday. It also has info on seats that don't recline all the way, obstructed views, and misaligned windows. When you choose your seats, use all the competitive information to choose the best one. Otherwise, it may be a long and painful flight.
Tip #3: Use TripIt to Track Your Itineraries
When you get your confirmation emails from your airline and hotel, it's tempting to write it all down and try to construct an itinerary for yourself. RESIST THE TEMPTATION!
You have a manicure waiting for you. Instead, create a free account with TripIt. Forward your confirmation emails to TripIt and it will figure out all your travel details and construct an itinerary for you. It will include weather reports, restaurants, maps, and so on. It will compile your airline, train, and bus tickets. It handles car rentals, hotel reservations, and custom events if you want to create itinerary entries for meetings or meals or restaurant outings.
TripIt will also give you a calendar feed you can import into Outlook or iCal, and your travel plans will automagically show up on your calendar.
You can connect your TripIt account to your friends, and you'll be able to see where they are at any given time. This makes it easy to arrange meet-ups with your loved ones, stalk your exes, and avoid meeting up with that guy you only gave your business card to because you really wanted to meet his friend.
I'm not exactly sure how I lived without TripIt, though I know, theoretically, that I once did.
Tip #4: Track Flights With FlightTrack Pro
You can't rest easy just because you've booked your flights, gotten great seats, and created your itinerary. You need to make sure your flight is on time, know its departure gate, any weather alerts, FAA delays, and how long your layovers are (especially if there have been any last-minute weather delays). FlightTrack Pro to the rescue! It connects to TripIt and can load in your itineraries automatically. When your loved ones are traveling, you can even see a map of exactly where their flight is at any given moment, so you know how many minutes of freedom you have left before they arrive and tumble joyously out of the arrival gate.
The internet has travel tools that our ancestors could barely have dreamed of. Using Kayak to book your travel, SeatGuru to find comfort, TripIt to organize, and FlightTrack Pro to monitor progress, your future travel will be perfect. Or if not, you'll be so busy fooling around with all your technical tools that you won't notice as the wing catches fire.
You’ve been reading an article by Stever Robbins. I help entrepreneurs build successful businesses and lives by providing accountability systems to keep them focused and moving on their highest priorities. If you want to learn more, visit http://www.SteverRobbins.com.
Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!