We head out tomorrow for Australia and New Zealand! I’m excited to get going, but the night before a trip is kind of like the night before Christmas: so much anticipation that it’s hard to sleep!
We’ve uploaded a broad outline of our itinerary over on the ethos blog so I won’t repeat it here.
However, the logistics of organizing a trip for eleven friends has proven challenging, so I thought I’d share some of the things that have worked.
I’ve tried just about every website and iPhone app out there to help manage flights, points, reservations, etc…and TripIt has been the only one that’s stuck with me. It holds all your reservations (planes, hotels, activities, etc…) and even scans you email to automatically add them to itineraries. It then reminds you to check-in, lets you know when your flight is delayed and keeps all the info you need right on the app on your iPhone. It even tracks points and lets you know when they are going to expire.
I’ve had quite a few experiences where TripIt has let me know about a delay or gate change even before the agents at the airport knew anything.
Full disclosure: my sister works at TripAdvisor (Hi Kaitlin!), but it’s seriously awesome. I found a villa for our first week in New Zealand for $45/person per night, right on the water and close to everything we want to see in the wine region. I’ll update here (and post a review on TripAdvisor, don’t worry Kaitlin) once we see how good it is, but we always check that site for ideas first and have started using their travel deals site SniqueAway for our weekends away with great success.
Here’s where the trick to organizing 11 people comes in: Billmonk. We assigned out different parts of the trip for people to plan and book, which means that people often ended up taking on bills for the group for their area of responsibility. What Billmonk does is allow you to put all those bills in a pot, tell them how to split it up (evenly or by fixed or % amounts) and then it nets it all out so you make as few payments as possible. They have teamed up with Obopay to make the payments, but our group really struggled with that part of the software and ended up settling up over paypal or in person. However, the bill netting part of it was priceless (and free, actually)!
So now that most of the logistics are out of the way, we are off! Next post: from New Zealand!
- TripAdvisor Makes Itself Available Offline to Help Travelers Avoid Roaming Charges (allthingsd.com)
- Girl in Motion Update (agirlinmotion.com)