Help me navigate small-group travel in the modern era?
October 18, 2019 1:03 PM   Subscribe

I'll shortly be traveling with a small group -- me, husband, teen kid + 2 older teens. We're coming from different places, meeting in one city, doing five days of activities with various combinations of people joining in or sitting out for some days/activities. I'm the one making the itinerary and arranging tickets, reservations, etc. What's the best way to share this info with the group?

I want to be able to:
-- share the overall itinerary for the 5 days, which includes airline travel, event bookings, restaurant reservations, train schedules, etc.
-- adjust the itinerary on the fly as things change
-- have everyone else be able to access the itinerary but not change it

We all have iPhones, and the teens are obviously tech-savvy, though Mr. BlahLaLa is a total technophobe.

Is there an app for this? Or some other easy solution?
posted by BlahLaLa to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I have come to really embrace Slack for this kind of thing!
posted by cakelite at 1:11 PM on October 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


I would use a Google Doc, easily accessible and editable on a smart phone and fine-tuned permissions options.
posted by amaire at 1:14 PM on October 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


Google Calendar lets you set up multiple calendars (e.g. a specific calendar for this occasion), and allows sharing with specific people and setting their access permissions to any you choose of these options for the sharees:
- see only free/busy (other details hidden)
- see all event details
- make changes to events
- make changes to events and to sharing

That could be better than a document I think; my only caveat being that I don't know how well Google Calendar is supported on iStuff (it's good on Android & web)
posted by anadem at 1:34 PM on October 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


Maybe Tripit.
posted by crazy with stars at 2:36 PM on October 18, 2019 [6 favorites]


Mrs. Gotanda who organizes tours for a living and has to coordinate people with zero to advance tech uses Google Sheets and Docs for this.
posted by Gotanda at 3:00 PM on October 18, 2019


I would probably set up a Notion for this. You can enter data once and have it display multiple ways and it’s much more mobile friendly than Google stuff.
posted by dame at 4:22 PM on October 18, 2019


I would use a Google "word" Doc or SIMPLE spreadsheet (not too many colums).
One page for each day.
Super simple to read, and won't get mucked up on people's phones.

Start each line with the time, and then the names, and then the activity:

SATURDAY
9-11 am - Mom, Dad, Alex - Morning walk
10-11 am - Julie - Aquafit class in hotel pool
10:30am - Auntie Lisa arrives! Flight 123, Terminal B, staying at Hotel Address.
11 am - 2pm - ALL - Brunch at Restaurant Address.
2-5:30 pm - Free time
5:30 pm - ALL - Get ready for dinner
6 pm - Mom, Dad, Alex, Julie - Leave for dinner (Walk to F station, southbound to G station, 45 mins)
7pm - 9pm - ALL - Dinner reservation, 7pm at Restaurant Z, with Auntie Lisa

You can adjust sharing access, so some people are read-only, and some can edit.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 5:09 PM on October 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


My preference is to use Google Sheets for this- the first sheet is everyone's flight details, then subsequent sheets show different information. Maybe you could have one sheet per day with a column for each person, so you can look down your column to see what you're doing and across the row to see who you're doing it with.

I'd set this up on a computer, though, and not edit it on the phone unless you really need to.
posted by freethefeet at 5:32 PM on October 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


Either TripIt or GoogleDocs. TripIt I think works best for when you’re all doing the same thing, though.
posted by samthemander at 7:46 PM on October 18, 2019


I believe there is a huge opportunity for a company to create what you need. There is definitely a vacuum in this space left by Travefy and Google Trips. Agreed that Trip It is best for everyone doing the same thing on the trip. It’s really confusing otherwise because the phone view doesn’t show you WHO is doing the activity until you drill down. With that said, the thing it excels at is ingesting data from any kind of confirmation email regarding flights and hotels. You just forward your emails to plans@tripit.com and all details display neatly.

To be used with your chosen itinerary app, I also recommend the Google Maps shared lists feature. It allows you to input clusters of locations so everyone knows where to go and can figure out transit times.
posted by oxisos at 11:41 PM on October 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


One caveat with Google Calendar is that it handles time zones counter-intuitively. For example, let's say you live in California and booked a flight from New York to Denver, leaving at 8am. So you put it in your calendar. Now it thinks the flight leaves 8am Pacific Time, and when you're in New York it'll change the departure time to 11am.
posted by dum spiro spero at 1:57 AM on October 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


Tripit sounds totally fantastic. I've recently done a trip like this and found the Google Docs approach really almost-unusable (always having to zoom in and scroll to the right day - wouldn't be solved even by having pages per day). Locations ahead of time in a Google Maps custom list was a great brainwave I was glad I had though.

Seconding be wary about time zones in anything automated - I would hope Tripit has this sorted.
posted by lokta at 2:58 AM on October 19, 2019


In my experience Trip It handles time zones just fine. I wouldn’t call it fantastic because the UI is a bit clunky and there’s no way to see a map of everything.

After my post above, I just learned that Google Maps also has been ingesting my Gmail flight and hotel confirmation emails, and placing them into very nice format under Your Places/Reservations. However! I can’t see a way customize it any further to add other things, too bad. What we want doesn’t appear to exist in a free app at the moment.
posted by oxisos at 8:17 AM on October 19, 2019


Thanks for the suggestions. None of these sound great, alas. Barring any new suggestions, I'll probably just create a doc, save it as a PDF, and email it to everyone. Then deal with changes on an ad hoc basis.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:59 AM on October 19, 2019


One caveat with Google Calendar is that it handles time zones counter-intuitively. For example, let's say you live in California and booked a flight from New York to Denver, leaving at 8am. So you put it in your calendar. Now it thinks the flight leaves 8am Pacific Time, and when you're in New York it'll change the departure time to 11am.

Google Calendar can handle these events correctly -- it just requires indicating the time zone for the event (or doing the time zone conversions yourself, but given that you can specify the time zones explicitly it's just easier to do that).

The calendar (reasonably) assumes that if you specify an event time with no indication of time zones, that you are putting an event in the time zone you are in.

So if you add an event that starts at 8 am when you are in California without indicating the time zone, it will assume this is an event that starts at 8 am Pacific / 11 am Eastern and will show the event at the relevant time according to whatever time zone your computer/phone is in.

However, you can specify the time zone when adding an event and Google Calendar will handle it correctly -- you can even specify the start time and end time in different time zones, neither of which have to be the time zone you are in currently in. So while you are in Chicago, you can add a flight and specify that it starts at 9 am Pacific and ends at 6 pm Eastern, and it will correctly show up as a 6-hour-long event with a starting time correct based on whatever time zone your device is in -- 9 am when you are in California, 11 am in Chicago, 12 pm in New York.

It is also my experience that auto-created events based on flight confirmation emails always handle the time zones correctly as well.
posted by andrewesque at 12:45 PM on October 20, 2019


Because none of the solutions seemed easy or intuitive, I ended up making a full itinerary for myself in a Word doc. Then I updated everyone orally each morning -- "Here's what we're doing today..." and then for the rest of the day we relied on texting to keep in touch or change plans on the fly. This was an amenable, easygoing group so that worked fine.

I do wish someone would invent the perfect app though!
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:00 PM on November 18, 2019


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