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New TripIt Web tool makes organizing trips easier

Whenever I'm about to leave on a trip, I always have to triple-check that I have my three essentials: passport, wallet, and trip folder—my collection of confirmation emails, printouts of maps and directions, notes on potential restaurants and shops I want to check out, and important phone numbers and addresses. I'm sure most of you have trip folders too. They may be bulky and a pain to organize, but the information is too important to be left in cyberspace.

That's why I was intrigued to learn about TripIt, a new online trip-organization tool that can put your confirmation emails, maps, notes, and other planning details into one easy-to-read document you can print out and take with you. The site was co-founded by two former Hotwire executives, Gregg Brockway and Scott Hintz, and it officially launches to the public today.

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I got a sneak peek in advance, and can tell you I think many travelers will find TripIt to be quite useful. With TripIt, you can create a profile and then build itineraries for future trips. You can forward confirmation emails from more than 70 travel providers (including most of the major airline, hotel, car rental, and online travel consolidator brands) to your TripIt account and the site automatically puts the information into a dynamic itinerary and adds Google maps and driving directions, weather data, and links to travel guides that list events going on while you'll be there, among other details. You can manually add in other travel plans.

The site has some other nifty features, including links that allow you to check into your flights and view SeatGuru (a SmarterTravel.com sister site) seat maps of the aircraft you'll be flying. TripIt also has a social component, so you can invite friends to view your itinerary, and even add their own details to collaborative trips.

The site is still a work in progress. It can't read confirmation emails from any small independent providers, any cruise lines, or many major international airlines, hotel chains, and car rental companies. It will still post the contents of these emails to your itinerary; it just won't be able to integrate the content dynamically. In a phone conversation, Brockway told me TripIt is working on adding more providers and making other improvements. But even as it is now, the site is definitely worth a test-drive.

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