Guest Post by Joe Pawlikowski.
If you can do it on a laptop, you can do it on a tablet. Perhaps that statement is a bit premature, but we’re certainly getting there. In 2011, we saw a slew of tablets that packed the power of a laptop into a small slate-like device. In 2012, we’ll see even more power from tablets, making them bigger parts of our lives. They’re not only our computers, but our personal organizers, taking care of everything from reminders to appointments.
As tablets become more functional, we’ll do more with our tablets. We can do plenty right now, in fact. Here’s a quick guide for an organizational function that can come in quite handy: how to book and organize your travel arrangements from your tablet.
Using the web
The great part about tablets is that they contain powerful web browsers that mimic traditional laptop and desktop browsers. They’re quite better than smartphone browsers, mainly because they don’t point to mobile sites. They go to full-powered websites, meaning tablets users get the full web experience. The only exception is Flash, which doesn’t run on the iPad and which runs poorly on Android devices. Thankfully, few if any travel sites use Flash to power their systems.
You can navigate to popular travel sites such as Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity to do the same things you would on the web. Here you can book flights, reserve hotels, and find a car rental, just as you would on a more traditional computer. The interface might seem slightly different, because you’ll be using your fingers to navigate the touchscreen rather than a mouse. But the function is completely the same. There really is no difficulty in doing this on a tablet.
Yet there are some ways you can book on your tablet and maybe save some money. That’s where apps come into play.
The Orbitz app, available for iPad and Android tablets, essentially gives users access to Orbitz’s array of deals from a simple app. While many travel apps offer the ability to book hotel reservations and even car rentals from their apps, they do not offer flight booking. This is where Orbitz has the advantage. You can book every facet of your deal from their app.
Why book through the app when it’s just as easy to do so through the web? Because Orbitz offers mobile-only deals that can save you money on hotels. So not only do you get to book from your tablet, from wherever you happen to be at the moment, you also can save some money if the right hotel strikes your fancy. After you book, Orbitz arranges your itinerary into the app, so you’ll have everything in order.
Of course, Orbitz’s organizer works when you book through Orbitz. There are other services out there, too, and you might prefer them. Thankfully, there’s a great app for organizing your travel.
TripIt is one of many travel organization apps. It works for not only iPad and Android tablets, but also the BlackBerry PlayBook. The best part is that it requires little work on the user’s part. Once you book travel arrangements on any travel website, you then forward the confirmation email to TripIt. That automatically populates your app with all of your travel details, from flight to rental car to hotel and back.
There are other apps that offer similar services, too. WorldMate is one of them, and it gets rave reviews as well. It works in the same fashion, taking the information from your confirmation emails and populating the app. Both apps work offline, so you can pull out your tablet whenever you need it to check your flight or hotel information. These apps ensure that your tablet is not only an entertainment device, but a highly useful one as well.
Both TripIt and WorldMate offer premium tiers that bring even more services, such as flight tracking and alerts. But you don’t need to pay them a yearly fee to get those services. There are better apps for that.
There’s nothing really special about a run of the mill flight tracking app. It lets you know if flights are delayed or cancelled, often sending alerts so you don’t miss them. This is useful, but hardly exciting. Yet the FlightTracker app tries to spice up a typically unremarkable service. Its graphical interface is beautiful and useful at the same time. It lets you know where the flight is — or at least an estimate — while also providing you with vital travel information.
This isn’t just flight information, but also current weather and radar forecasts. It’s a perfect complement to the other travel apps, since it provides a premium experience for just a few dollars. And, like TripIt and WorldMate, it’s available on all three tablet platforms, so you don’t need a specific one to get all the benefits.
If booking travel from a tablet is this easy, imagine how much else we can do. Tablets are the next logical step from laptops. They might be unfamiliar now, but soon enough we’ll be doing more than booking our travel arrangements from them. They could become integral parts of our lives.
This was a guest post by Joe Pawlikowski who is the editor of Prepaid Reviews, a site that provides information, commentary, and reviews of prepaid wireless services.
Photo Credit: Peachygreen