Road Trip with Trip Cart

TripCart is a nice new Web 2.0 beta for travelers who want to get out of the rut of planning trips and vacations around an airline schedule. What TripCart has done is create a site that captures the spirit of the road trip, adds in concrete ways to plan the trip and make arrangements and includes a forum for travelers to meet and compare notes, and in some cases plan trips together. It’s social networking for the on-the-go set.

How is TripCart capturing the road trip vibe? They offer you the chance to plan a trip around a vague notion in your head. If you wake up on a Saturday morning with the kids and think “amusement park” when you look out the window at the gorgeous Summer day, you can log on to TripCart and search by attraction: “amusement park”. It will provide a list of possible amusement park destinations that is structured like an intuitive tag cloud.

Once you get your tag list it is up to you to decide how far you feel like traveling. Do you want to go to an amusement park near your house, or do you want to go to a nearby state and make a weekend out of it? The more tags you click, the more options you get. As your search gets narrower, you begin to see appropriate reservation options based on distance such as hotels, bed and breakfasts, airfares, rental cars and more.

Trip Cart even offers options for people who want to do something more vague than a specific attraction, like go “leaf peeping” and see the Fall foliage. Type that in and you get a tag cloud for leaf peepers, complete with pictures of possible destinations. One interesting thing about TripCart – unlike it’s counterparts, it thinks outside the box a bit. Leaf peepers don’t just get the standard “New England” destinations – you will also find recommended trips to Colorado and New Mexico, along with other places that aren’t considered standard leaf peeping locales.

What about the people who prefer to travel in a more traditional way? TripCart has you covered also. If you look on the front page you see on the left a more traditional travel interface, grouped first by region and country, then narrowing down as you design your trip. On the right is the intuitive “road trip” destination model. Having them side by side is appealing and attractive.

As you explore the site, you notice that it offers you the chance to register as a member for free. This activates the feature where the site remembers you and your travel preferences and history, which is nice. Registration also gives you access to the forums. The forums are an interesting addition to a travel site. Allowing you to compare notes on various destinations, share advice and tips, and in some cases find a travel companion, the forums add a whole new dimension to the idea of booking travel online.

All in all I’d say TripCart is a fresh new outlook on travel. The only thing I can think of to make it even better is to add a chat box on various destination pages that links the forums more openly to the travel aspect. This way users could share destination advice in real time, make travel partner hook ups as they go and more, and it would push it from a travel site with a few innovative and interactive and social features into a travel site that is completely interactive and social.

My original version found at Profy site

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