The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

Traveller’s Aids

During our Bay Area visit, I made use of some of the newer travel tools on the net and discovered (late in some cases) a few more.

For organizing the trip, I used both TripIt and Dopplr. When I started out, Tripit’s strength over Dopplr was that it was great at scanning reservations, planes and hotels and cars, and converting those reservation emails into an itinerary. Dopplr was stronger in the social networking area and had the simpler interface.

Since then Dopplr has improved their scanning, so they say on their site, but I was already about done traveling so I haven’t tried that out.

I hadn’t used OpenTable before and now I can’t believe that I managed without it. OpenTable is Orbits for restaurants. It hooks directly into a great number of restaurants’ reservations systems so you can see what is available when and place your reservation directly from the site — no emails, calls or prayers needed.

But when it comes to reviews, Yelp has OpenTable beat. Yelpers are opinionated and very active and their opinions are valuable. Some place with a Yelp award on the wall is always worth a visit.

For maps, I used both Gmaps (of course) but also the Carrboro-based Schmap. Schmap has a very nice interface and a good city guide, the last builtin. But Gmaps on the new location aware iPhone is hard to beat when you’re out around town.

Speaking of the iPhone, Twitterific and now Twinkle make it really useful for finding your pals. Twittering our adventures in lead to a great talk with @cjobrien and @kthread in Union Square while we experienced all four seasons of San Francisco in about an hour. Twitter also helped set up meetings and drinks with a bunch of folks I hadn’t seen in a long time and several who hadn’t met each other. Tweeple also recommended restaurants and places to visit even as we were traveling.

I don’t know if I did them a favor by live-tweeting the Fortune Brainstorm Tech Conference, but those who did read my tweets got a blow by blow of how I was taking in the conference.

We had our flight alert SMS set up but didn’t much need the alerts.

What other travel tools do you find useful?

1 Comment

  1. That was a great conversation in SF–Brightkite is good for discovering people if you turn on notifications for those in your area. And I like the Dopplr recomendations people give for places–some Yelpers are a bit loud 😉

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