How to Use AI to Plan a Trip to Just About Anywhere

Technology + Gear
by Katie Scott Aiton Jun 16, 2023

Even if you’re a seasoned traveler, planning a trip can feel like a search-engine workout. You need to make sure your travel arrangements are streamlined, your documentation is correct, you’ve found good deals on transportation and accommodation, and you have a sense of the best things to do, eat, and drink on the ground. AI can help. The WhatsApp-based travel concierge GuideGeek was designed to make trip-planning simpler, open your eyes to new experiences, and make sure you have a vacation to remember.

Built on OpenAI, GuideGeek aggregates all of the information on the internet to tell you instantly what you want to know. Current users are asking questions such as how to plan a family vacation in Bali, where to find the top speakeasies in Vegas, and where to go for vegan or lactose-free meals in Rome. GuideGeek responds in detail with helpful tips and recommendations. The chat-based trip-planning tool not only delivers helpful information quickly but is actually designed to be used on the go — if you don’t have time to do hours of research before reaching your destination, just hop on WhatsApp, and GuideGeek will provide recommendations in real time.

The best way to make the most out of GuideGeek is to know how to prompt it. Take Michael Motamedi as an example. Motamedi let GuideGeek plan a date night for him and his partner in Mexico City, and man, did they have a blast.

@michaelmotamedi Date night in Mexico City controlled by A.I. We let a travel guide A.I tell us what to do for an entire night. We enjoyed some of the best speakeasies in the city. I travel the world and eat a lot of food. If you are into either of those things, I would love if you came a long. #traveltiktok #mexicocity #travellife #foodtiktok #michaelmotamedi #guidegeek ♬ Spanish Guitar for Western Movies or Games – Hanadayama Music Lab

To get started, just say “hello”

Once you’ve scanned the QR code for GuideGeek, it will start a new conversation on WhatsApp where you can say “hello.” The first message you’ll receive will outline what the technology can do for you. It can advise on any travel-related topic, from flights, visas, transit, and budgeting to excursions, experiences, and cultural information, including must-know local slang. From there, you can begin asking questions. You never know what gems a simple inquiry will yield — the ease of chatting with GuideGeek means you might end up finding out about places and experience you might not have otherwise in half.

There are a few things to keep in mind to optimize your AI experience. The first is to write in your native language. Grammar and spelling matter. The clearer specific you are, the better your results will be. If you’re looking for the best Negroni in Brooklyn, be specific. If you’re traveling in a group, with kids, or anyone in your party has specific needs, such as dietary restrictions, let GuideGeek know. The tool was designed to work for you, and the more you use it, the more tailored its responses will be.

Below are some examples of how you can use your new travel companion.

Find the right flights for you and how to get around on the ground

Train in Oslo

Photo: Marius Dobilas/Shutterstock

I recently told GuideGeek that I was planning a trip from Edinburgh to Mexico City. It asked for details about my travel dates, and within minutes of providing them, I had a handy list of three flights arranged by the best, fastest, and cheapest options, with details about the airline carriers, exact dates and times of the flights, flight length and number of stops, total cost, and a link to book the deal. Even after confirming that GuideGeek’s results were accurate, this flight-finding tool cut the time it would normally take me to research in half.

You can also ask GuideGeek about getting around on foot, by bike, or via bus, train, or car. It can help you find good deals on tickets and rental cars, as well as recommend the best times and routes to follow. Though my initial research focused on flights, I can only imagine how helpful the tool would be if I were planning a road trip, from the general itinerary and things to see and do along the way to the nitty-gritty details.

Work out where to stay

Woman in Maldive near overwater bungalows

Photo: Maridav/Shutterstock

In addition to researching flights to Mexico City for my upcoming trip, I asked GuideGeek to advise me on what factors to consider regarding accommodation. It listed several considerations, such as budget, location, style, reviews, and overall vibe. Considering the city’s massive size, I asked for a neighborhood overview. Within seconds, I had a detailed list of five popular neighborhoods with a paragraph highlighting the characteristics of each.

Having a roadmap to a new destination is invaluable when you’re deciding where to base your stay. From there, you can ask about what types of accommodation are available, as well as specific recommendations. GuideGeek can assist by pulling together a list of top-rated Airbnbs (remember to get specific whether you’re looking for a tiny house or a sprawling villa) versus luxury or budget hotels, all-inclusive resorts, or friendly-friendly stays. You name it.

Ask about the best places to eat and drink that meet your needs

Man eating tacos

Photo: David Prahl/Shutterstock

It’s one thing to center a trip around where to eat and drink if your only criterion is “yum.” It gets trickier when you have specific needs, be it dietary requirements or budget restrictions. Using GuideGeek on the go means you always have access to the best options near you. GuideGeek users recently posed questions such as where to find the best food vegan in Paris and the best vegetarian food stalls in Singapore. As expected, it responded with a solid list of some of the best eateries in Paris with gourmet vegan menus and a comprehensive guide to street food in Singapore.

Discover smaller destinations off the beaten path

Small village in France

Photo: JeniFoto/Shutterstock

For many travelers, visiting a new destination means experiencing new cities. But small towns can be equally rewarding. Not only do they give you a chance to support local communities, but they can also introduce you to less tourist-focused areas. It can, however, be hard to know how to get off the beaten path.

Take Texas. The giant state is more than big brash cities. There are lots of small towns in Texas that are full of character, with friendly locals and a relaxed pace of life. I hopped on GuideGeek to see if it could help narrow down some of the best stops for a Texas road trip next summer. It came back with a list of five destinations, as well as questions about the length of my trip to help plan an itinerary.

Other users have asked about small towns near popular cities and within heavily trafficked regions, such as beach destinations. Once GuideGeek gives you an idea of what’s out there, you can dive into more details about the towns and villages it recommends, such as where to stay and eat.

Let GuideGeek help you pull off your dream trip

silverback Mountain Gorilla

Photo: Greens and Blues/Shutterstock

GuideGeek’s practical uses are innumerable — including sourcing underrated recommendations in and around well-traveled places — but it’s also a tool you can use to inject a bit more excitement into your trip. If you’re at the stage of knowing roughly what or where you want to go but would like some inspiration, a conversation with GuideGeek can spark your imagination.

I’ve planned a lot of my larger trips around seeing animals in the wild. I’ve been fortunate to travel to India to see Bengal tigers, to Japan to see snow monkeys, and to New Zealand to see whales. Mountain gorillas are still on the list. Other than knowing that there are groups of mountain gorillas in equatorial Africa, I had no idea where to begin planning a trip to see them, or if it’s even possible to see them responsibly in their natural habitat.

Again, GuideGeek delivered, asking basic questions such as where I wanted to see mountain gorillas (Uganda, Rwanda, or the Democratic Republic of Congo), when I wanted to visit, and whether I was planning to go solo or with a group. From there, I was able to start digging into details about tour operators and guides.

However, there was one more looming question: can I even afford a trip like this?

Budget your trip better with GuideGeek

Photo: ProStockStudio/Shutterstock

For most travelers, budgeting is a key trip-planning factor. Whether you’re trying to pinch pennies or simply like to be money savvy, GuideGeek can help you stretch your dollar with good deals on big expenses, leaving extra budget for one-the-ground adventures. In addition to finding the best options for transport and hotels in real time, GuideGeek can build a budget-friendly itinerary for any destination.

For example, if you’re planning on backpacking around Southeast Asia, you can ask how much money you would need for a certain period of time and how to break down the total cost. You can even consider adding in a thematic element. Say you’re looking for the best places to eat in Vietnam: you could ask for a detailed five-day itinerary through Vietnam that would make Bourdain proud, as one user asked.

This research is not only helpful, but it also saves you time on the ground — and who wants to go home without trying the best pho in Ho Chi Minh City?

Get your documents in a row

US passport at airport

Photo: KieferPix/Shutterstock

For me, getting travel documents in order is the most stressful thing about travel. I’m an organized person, but making sure paperwork is correct and completed on time always feels like an uphill battle, especially when I’m visiting a new destination or one with updated regulations. Turning to GuideGeek for a checklist of requirements, as well as a time frame, makes it easier. Again, specificity here is key.

For GuideGeek to provide information that’s relevant to you, you’ll need to provide relevant details, such as your nationality, what type of visa you’re seeking, whether you’re traveling alone or with family, how many days you’re planning to visit, and when you need to get your paperwork in order by. It’s also worth checking to see if you need specific insurance for certain activities while abroad.

Plan a vacation with others in mind

Family in pool

Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

When is comes to organizing a family vacation or group trip for a special occasion, such as a birthday or bachelorette, making sure everyone’s needs are met can get complicated, fast. GuideGeek can help to streamline the process.

Recently, one GuideGeek user asked it to help plan a family-friendly one-week vacation to Bali with young kids. It came back with a comprehensive seven-day itinerary packed with kid-friendly activities and educational cultural pursuits, including which temples to tour, a trip to the Bali Safari and Marine Park, a couple of beach days, and a Balinese dance performance at a local theater. Had the user wanted to adjust the itinerary, GuideGeek signed off with a note that it could further tailor the activities to the family’s preferences on request.

Another user recently inquired about family-friendly experiences in Washington, DC, for a child with autism, while another asked about tips for a multi-generational trip with a disabled parent. In both cases, GuideGeek was able to craft personalized suggestions to best fit the needs of its travelers, drawing on information from across the internet. It’s all in the details — the more you ask of GuideGeek, the more information it can give you.

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