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Screen shot of the author's Iceland duffel.

Travel Tech: Organize Your Trip Research Online

Duffel, an online tool and mobile app, allows users to gather all their trip planning research in one user-friendly space.

When I began researching a nine-day road trip through California, the information quickly piled up. I tagged everything from Yelp restaurant reviews and flight itineraries to CVB websites and Traveler On Foot tours, which resulted in a very lengthy and disorganized list of online bookmarks. I was losing my mind and losing track of some great travel finds. Fortunately, for me, I discovered an online travel planner that came to my rescue.

Duffel, which fully launched in November 2009, is an online trip planning tool that allows users to coalesce travel information from the web, travel blogs, and advice from friends in one user-friendly space. Designed like a virtual bulletin board, users pin ideas to their duffel by category: Activity, Food & Drink, Lodging, and Transportation. Fill you duffel’s bulletin board with ideas (designed like index cards) and then drag and drop favorites into a running itinerary.

Duffel also has great sharing capabilities such as the “invite collaborators” option to share a private duffel. This is a perfect feature if you’re traveling with friends and want to collect everyone’s research in a single space.

When you’re ready to leave for your trip, Duffel has a seamless print-view format of your itinerary that combines all the information from your note cards as well as maps of any addresses you plugged in. You can also view your itinerary in a map view.

I first used Duffel a year ago to plan my California road trip. I loaded my duffel with links to restaurants, record stores, chocolate shops, road trip information, and Traveler’s free city guides. I didn’t have to worry about remembering websites, addresses, or phone numbers. Everything, including my flight and hotel confirmations, was in one neatly-packaged location.

Since Duffel’s launch back in 2009, it has upgraded its site with an enhanced cork board layout and a handy “Clip-It Bookmarker,” which you can add to your web browser’s toolbar and simply click to add whatever website you’re browsing right to your duffel. Duffel also debuted an iPhone app that let’s you access all your planning and itinerary information from the road. I’ve used Duffel several times after my California trip, most recently on a week-long trip to Iceland. Duffel’s iPhone app was great to remind me of hotel phone numbers and restaurants I had researched.

Duffel is convenient, it’s easy to use, and great for groups collaborating on one trip. To learn more, follow Duffel on Twitter (@duffelup) or read about the latest features on the Duffel blog.

Do you use a different trip planning tool that you think is awesome? Tell us about it! Leave a comment below.

Photo: Screen shot of my Iceland duffel.