I want to go to Mexico during spring break. The only problem is that I don’t know much about Mexico. Ten years ago, I would’ve had have to call each of my friends individually to see if any of them had been to Mexico. But with gtrot, a new web based application, I can simply click on any destination in Mexico on a map and see which of my friends have been there and when. I can even see which of my friends are planning to go there.
Trying to Trot
gtrot aims to to make travel more social. Founded by two recent Harvard graduates, the site combines “the social information that travelers need with the booking tools they already use.” gtrot is beautifully designed, easy to use and runs smoothly. After logging into gtrot using your Facebook account, you are prompted to input your current location, any past trips you’ve taken, and any future trips you have planned. This information is then available only to your Facebook friends who use the site.
The site is great for planning trips. If I want to see where my friends are going on spring break, I can simply filter my friend list on gtrot to show which friends are traveling in the middle of March, and see their destinations plotted on a world map. If I want to travel with these people, I can book my flights through it, which uses the Kayak.com booking engine.
On the other hand, if I already know where I want to travel, I can simply click on that place on a map and see which of my friends have been there. I can then use Facebook or email to contact them and get advice about the trip.
Regardless of what you use it for, gtrot represents a vast improvement over status quo travel planning, and is a great tool for both traveling and socializing.
gtrot is certainly not perfect. Some of its most innovative features, particularly a cab-sharing tool, aren’t rolled out yet. (The gtrot website says they’ll be online before this spring) Once these are introduced, the website will be a much better tool for both traveling socially and cost sharing.
Another drawback is that booking flights through the website severely limits your options, as Kayak is the only search engine available on the website. Frugal travelers might want to try a few other search engines such as Priceline and compare those to gtrot’s prices before booking your ticket.
While these are both minor issues with easy solutions, the main problem comes from the inherently social nature of gtrot. Put simply, if you have no or very few friends on gtrot, it’s really not very useful. It’s not just the number of friends that effects the utility of the site-if your friends don’t input much information about their travel, the site is nearly useless.
Trot With Friends
Despite a few minor drawbacks, if you have a number of friends who use gtrot, as I do, then the site offers a great new way to make travel social. Never before has it been so easy to both coordinate your travel with friends and use your friends as a resource for travel advice. I will definitely be logging into gtrot before my next trip.
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