3 Tips for a Great Summer Vacation

A good friend and his wife were recently hosting all of their children and grandchildren for an annual family weekend. Everyone was flying in from all over the country.

One son and his family arrived at the airport for their flight to Asheville only to realize that they had missed the flight because they had entered the wrong departure time in their iPhones. Needless to say, that was an expensive and inconvenient mistake.

They finally arrived at 4 am!

No one wants to start their vacation off with this kind of snafu and you don’t have to.

One of the cool things about technology is the ability to link computerized information into your devices. It keeps you organized and greatly reduces the possibility for human error.

With the beginning of summer vacation season, it’s a perfect time to share apps and tips that can help you save money, save time and stay on schedule with your travel plans.

1. Finding flights and saving money

If you’re like most savvy travelers, you spend a lot of time researching to find the best flight at the best time at the best price. And there are so many websites to search! Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz, each individual airline, etc. The search options are infinite and it’s tedious.

Enter a relatively new site called Hopper (hopper.com). Hopper has a social media side to it where you can give your own reviews on travel destinations, lodging, restaurants and so forth.

That’s not why I use Hopper.

I use Hopper for its “Flight Research Tools.” You can find out the best prices, the best days to purchase your ticket and the best days to fly.

It’s quick, clean and intuitive.

You can set up a free account with Hopper, but that’s primarily for contributing your own reviews. You don’t need an account to use the “Flight Research Tools.”

In addition to the flight tools on the main page, there are a few others worth accessing:

  • Scroll down to the bottom of the main page and click on Data & Research near the bottom.
  • Then click on Tools at the top.
  • Look at the Interactive Tools for planning and purchasing tickets.

2. Automatic reminders for reservations

Once you have your flights and hotel reservations, wouldn’t it be wonderful for your flights and reservation information to automatically be entered into your smartphone’s calendar?

TripIt (tripit.com) is a website and an app that organizes all of your emailed trip reservations into a travel itinerary for you, but that’s not the best part.

You can set it up to automatically add that information into your smartphone’s calendar. It will enter flight numbers, departure and arrival times, hotel information and addresses for GPS.

It’s a great free tool.

Watch this short video for a quick explanation of TripIt and then sign up for your free account. If you have a Gmail account, all you have to do is click on the Google symbol.

If you want to receive mobile alerts or emails about flight delays, cancellations, and gate changes, you will need the paid version of TripIt which is $49/yr.

Note: Occasionally you will need to edit the details of a reservation in TripIt. I found this to be the case for Bed & Breakfast email confirmations. Just click on Edit beside the reservation in your TripIt account.

If you use Google calendar and connect TripIt to automatically add your reservations to your calendar, you can set up text reminders to your cell phone through the Google calendar settings.

3. Organizing email confirmations

Even if you use TripIt to automatically keep the details of your reservations for you, it’s a good idea to keep the original email confirmations handy until your trip is over.

Organizing them so you can actually find them is as simple as creating a folder in your email program for each trip and saving those emails in that folder.

A better option is to save the emailed confirmations to a cloud storage program such as Evernote, Dropbox or Google Drive. With cloud storage or a web-based email like Gmail, you will be able to access your documents from your own devices or any device with internet access.

Next week, I’ll share some technology tips for traveling to Europe.

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