Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Interior of Brazil

It’s amazing how the simple things can make such a big difference. Much as getting used to cold showers is probably good for me, it was really nice having a warm shower for a change. Along those lines, here are a few of the things that I’m getting used to in Central American and the interior of Brazil, in no particular order:

  • Being warm all of the time. Definitely liking that.
  • Cold showers. Takes some getting used to, but not bad when combined with being warm.
  • Terrible beds
  • “Exotics” birds everywhere
  • Rice and beans
  • Dust. So. Much. Dust.
  • Terrible internet connectivity
  • Warm friendly people, if you can figure out what they’re saying

The Weirdness of Travel Pricing

I’m planning a trip to Belo Horizonte in Brazil. It turns out that flying through Panama is both the cheapest way to get there, and reasonably quick. I was a little reluctant to fly Copa Airlines at first, but a friend convinced me that they’re actually really nice. That same friend pointed out that if I get a long layover, I can check out Panama and he might be able to join me for the weekend. Check out Panama on the way to Brazil? Don’t mind if I do!

With that booked, I then start looking at hotels. It’s only one night, so why not splurge a bit? I hear the Trump is “an experience” and it’s only around $250 for one night. Here’s when the weirdness starts:

  • Go to the hotel’s site directly: $219 US + taxes
  • Tripadvisor, Bookings.com, Hotels.com, and most other sites: $238 CAN incl
  • Otel.com: $197.89 CAD (no idea if this includes taxes or not)
  • Go to Kayak, search for the same thing, get an offer from Otel.com for $180.91 incl

For those keeping track, I saved $60 or 25% because I happened to remember that I got a lower price when messing around in the Kayak app yesterday.

Remember: the price is how much they can convince you to pay for something.

Travel Apps

Holy paradox of choice batman! I’m going to be travelling a lot in the next few months. A friend showed me an app that keeps track of your itinerary and all of your bookings – kinda handy really. So I thought I’d check out the options. Turns out there’s a lot of them! At least 5 popular ones, and probably a lot more too. Here’s a quick rundown of the ones I’ve looked at briefly.

TripIt

By far the most popular, but also seems to have a very clumsy interface on iOS and the web. I struggled with it for a bit, and then moved on. One nice feature: it will automatically pull in anything from your inbox so you don’t have to forward things to it. It’s also good if you want to fiddle with absolutely everything. But if you want something that’s simple, this is not it.

Kayak

Kayak is more of a travel website that happens to keep track of your itinerary for you. That said, it does a really good job of it. It’s a balance of having a lot of features and being simple, so kinda in the middle of TripIt and TripCase. You can forward things to it, or add items manually. You can also book things in the app. One of the things I like is that it will show you the email or document associated with a reservation, which is handy.

TripCase

Meant for the business traveller, TripCase is simple and to the point. It does one thing and it does it well: keep track of all of your bookings. You can forward things to it, or apparently if you book through a Sabre linked travel agency then things will just show up (I haven’t tried this last part). The nice part is that you can really keep track of everything – not just flights and hotels, but meetings, activities, attractions, etc. Apparently it doesn’t share to social media very well, but I don’t normally do that directly from this kind of app so I don’t really care. What I don’t like is that you can’t attach the original booking document unless you booked it through one of their partners. Otherwise, I really like the simplicity of this app.

WorldMate

I almost didn’t install this app after hearing that it didn’t allow manual entry of trips. Turns out that’s a complete lie. It allows manual additions, and so far it actually seems like the nicest app of the bunch. A very clean interface, and includes lots of details. I don’t like that you can’t edit an item that was imported automatically, you have to delete and re-add it manually. It also doesn’t show you the original email. I love that it flags warnings of things like missing accommodations or short layovers. The only other downside is that the basic version is, well, basic. To get alerts and flight status, you have to pay the $10 for the “gold” version. That said, seems well worth it if you’re a frequent traveller. Also: social media integration is built in, another perk over TripCase.

Comparison

App Pros Cons
TripIt

Flexible, add anything

Scans your inbox automatically
Flight alerts with subscription

Clumsy interface
Kayak

Book travel and keep itinerary in same place

Shows original email or document for items

Keeps lots of detail on each item

Not quite as polished as other options
Trip tracker secondary to booking travel
TripCase Simple usable interface
Links to Sabre-backed agencies?
Keep track of everything! Activities, restaurants, you name it.
Share / foliow trips with colleagues and friends through email
Not as much detail in the flight items
Doesn’t show original document
Social sharing to LinkedIn but not Twitter and FB
No iPad app
WorldMate Beautiful interface on both iPhone and iPad
Shows lots of details on flight items
Flight alerts with paid version
Social sharing to Twitter, FB, LinkedIn
Shows warnings on things that are missing
Handy tools like world clock and weather
$10 for the Gold version
Doesn’t show original documents
Can’t edit imported items
Doesn’t show gate status?

Summary

So which app is the right one? I’m still sorting that out for myself. I really like WorldMate, but I like the ability to keep track of everything in TripCase. TripIt is out – the whole point for me is to make things simpler. Otherwise, I could do better with Google Drive. Kayak is probably fantastic if you use their service or are a casual traveller looking for something basic. For business travellers, it’s down to TripCase or WorldMate. I’m going to try them both and let you know how it goes.

Update

According to Twitter, TripCase does support flight alerts, though I have yet to see any of them so far. That said, TripCase is showing gate information for the sample flight I put in, while WorldMate isn’t. This is quite the runoff between TripCase and WorldMate. I really like TripCase’s iOS interface, but WorldMate’s flight alerts are an important tool and I really like the full screen iPad app.