Whether you're hitting the road or taking to the skies, a digital companion makes it much easier plan your itinerary, ensure your tickets and connections are all lined up and find things to do when you arrive.
This week, we're looking at five of the best travel planning apps or services.
Keep in mind we're talking about travel planning, not travel booking.
The apps that can help you find a good deal and land a great price are not the same apps as those that will show you all of your flight details, help you dig out your rental car confirmation number or find the best local attractions.
Booking travel often involves multiple apps and sites; travel planning apps bring all that information together in a handy format you can access on your mobile device.
Many automatically collate travel information as you receive email confirmations.
TripIt almost needs no introduction. It offers is a complete, hassle free way to combine all of your travel confirmations, itineraries, tickets, hotel bookings, rental car reservations, and other travel data in one simple view.
That view then becomes the central hub for all of your travel needs - no more fishing for a confirmation email to get your reservation number, or wondering what flight number you're on before you check in.
It's also easy to share trip plans with family or friends. Sync TripIt with your Google Calendar and set up a few mail rules to push your travel confirmations to the service, and you have a custom built itinerary, automatically, every time you travel.
You can grab the TripIt mobile apps for iOS, Android, and other platforms here.
TouristEye helps you build a "wishlist" of destinations where you'd like to travel and experiences you'd like to have.
It doesn't have to be as fancy as a once-in-a-lifetime trip, either: the app is great for planning your annual family holiday or brief getaways.
You can share those lists with friends or family and collectively add suggestions. Once you're on the road, you can look back over those plans for detailed information, including links and maps.
That collaboration feature makes TouristEye particularly useful. The service was recently purchased by Lonely PlanetYou can pick up the TouristEye iPhone app and Android app to give the service a try.
Like TripIt and Worldmate, TripCase is another service that aims to centralise all of your travel documentation and planning in one handy interface.
TripCase offers an easy-to-use interface on your mobile devices to add your flight, train, hotel, rental car and other information; you can also send all of your confirmations directly to TripCase and have them automatically organised for you.
You can view your trip in the timeline-based "itinerary" view, where you see each step of your trip laid out in front of you along with relevant times and places, or the "action" view, which incorporates more detail for each leg.
TripCase integrates well with corporate travel systems such as Sabre. You can grab the TripCase mobile apps for iOS and Android here.
TripAdvisor is the quintessential travel planning service, helping you plan a trip from the beginning (much like TouristEye).
Since TripAdvisor is arguably the web's largest repository of hotel and destination reviews, ratings, photos, and other information, it's difficult to use any of the other services without finding TripAdvisor data integrated somewhere.
If you're headed to a hotel you've never stayed at, TripAdvisor is your best bet to see if there are amenities you need, or if people who have stayed there before report horror stories.
Similarly, it's a great site to use to plan destination getaways or lengthy trips.
TripAdvisor is great for finding new and interesting destinations as well as figuring out what to do when you're in a given place. If you know you want to go to a specific place but don't know how to get there, where to stay, or what to do, TripAdvisor will help walk you through that process as well.
WorldMate is aimed squarely at frequent business travellers, but you don't have to be one to use and make the most of the app.
You can use it to get all of your itineraries and reservations in one place, and then add other destinations, appointments, meetings, and events that you need to attend.
WorldMate has some very business-friendly service integrations too, such as LinkedIn, as well as the TripCatch service to automatically collate your information and other utilities such as weather alerts and currency conversions.
The basic service is free; paying users get extra features such as flight alerts. You can grab WorldMate's mobile apps for iOS and Android here.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favourite, even if it wasn't included in the list? Head to the comments and tell us about it and why you like it.
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