Planning vacations is a chore…or at least it used to be.
Now that you can turn ChatGPT into your personal travel agent, you’re able to plan the entire trip of your dreams with minimal effort and at no cost, no matter what the travel destination.
But before you rush off and begin planning, read this guide so you get the absolute best results from your pseudo travel agent.
I’ll walk you through how I used ChatGPT to plan my vacation to Rome and provide example prompts and questions you can use so that it fulfills all your trip planning needs.
You’ll learn how to use ChatGPT’s artificial intelligence to:
- Choose a destination for your travels
- Plan a day by day itinerary for your chosen destination
- Recommend restaurants to try the local cuisine, hotels, flights, and more
- Tell you what to pack based on your itinerary
- Come up with estimate costs and help you plan a budget
- Provide safety, cultural etiquette tips, and language translation
Plus I’ll share how to export the information into a travel friendly doc and share other AI tools that can make travel planning easier. Get ready to plan your next vacation!
Choosing your destination (for when you don’t know where to go)
Don’t know where to go? Having trouble deciding between locations?
ChatGPT not only is able to plan a trip, it can choose your destination as well.
All you need to do is prompt it with the right information, or have ChatGPT ask you the right questions.
The prompt below is a good starting point:
Here’s what it looks like in the chat when I asked ChatGPT:
And here are the suggestions it provided me once I answered the questions:
Using ChatGPT to create a custom travel itinerary
1. Set-up your plug-ins and ChatGPT chat
Before you get started you’ll need to sign-in (or sign-up) for ChatGPT.
Once signed in, you can open a new chat.
If you’re a Plus user you can choose which Chat model you’ll use. I recommend GPT-4 because you can use plug-ins to enhance the chat’s capabilities and it has more up to date sources.
Free users will only be able to use GPT-3.5. But don’t worry, both models are capable of travel planning.
Here are some plug-ins that you can set up to help ChatGPT plan and prepare you for your trip:
- Link Reader
- Show Me Diagrams
Make sure you have the plug-ins you need ‘enabled’ for your chat but keep in mind, as of writing this, you can only have three enabled at a time.
2. Figure out what your itinerary will include
Before ChatGPT can come up with your travel itinerary, you need to know what type of information you’re looking for.
For example, if I’m planning a visit to Rome, I know I’ll be there for 4 days, and I want restaurant recommendations as well as ideas of where to go to experience Italian culture and Roman history; those are all details I’ll want to include in my prompt.
Have a think about what you want out of your trip and what details a travel planner (whether AI or not!) needs to know to plan you an epic trip. Whether it’s a three-month trip or a five-day trip, ChatGPT will be able to plan it for you.
But if you want the full travel agent experience from your AI tool, then you can ask it to ask you questions that help you figure out the ideal length of time to spend in your location, day trips you might want to take from the location, best times of year to visit, etc.
Here are some examples of the information an itinerary can provide:
- Restaurant recommendations
- Best area to stay in based on your preferences (near tourist sites, cheap, etc)
- Day trips from the location
- Activities you can do
- Sites you can see
- Ideal lengths of your trip
- Packing list
Now that you have a general idea about what you want to get out of your itinerary, you can start to put together a prompt that will get you the best end result.
3. Create a comprehensive prompt
When it comes to using ChatGPT, the more specific you are with your instructions the better the tools output. So you want to create the right prompt.
It’s nice to ‘set the scene’ with your chat by telling them what your expectations are and the expertise they need to have in order to deliver. It’s almost like the chat is an actor who adopts the persona you give it.
So I like to start my travel prompts with something like:
“You’re a 5 star travel agent with years of experience in the travel industry. You’re known for designing dream itineraries, curating experiences that create unforgettable memories for your clients.”
You can add more details to their ‘persona’ that match your expectations. Maybe you want someone who caters to families, to young 20-somethings, to couples, or even to solo travelers.
Then I like to provide details about the ‘client’一which is me. Or in your case, you.
Here’s an example:
“Your client is a 29 year old woman with interests in history, food, and beautiful sites. She wants to eat her way through Rome, loves visiting museums, and wants to make the most of the cultural richness of the city.”
Add as much detail as you like so that your AI travel agent really gets to know you.
Next, we’ll add the itinerary specifics to the prompt. This is where your last step comes into use.
Tell the AI what you need them to do for you specifically.
Again, here’s an example:
“You need to create a 4 day travel itinerary for their trip to Rome. They want to know what they should do every day of the trip. They want you to recommend restaurants and places to eat for them, best sites to see, and things to do. Be sure to organize the days with proximity and time to travel between places in mind. We will plan this trip step by step, starting with Day 1.”
Finally, I wrap up the prompt with any details I already have about my trip that can help the AI effectively and accurately come up with a travel plan.
For example, I’ll include when I’m arriving and where I’m arriving, when I’m leaving and from where, my hotel, etc. If you want AI to help you plan those details then stay tuned (or scroll down!). That comes in a later part of the guide.
Here’s the prompt all together:
And here’s day 1 of my trip planned for me:
I then asked it to continue with Day 2:
Keep going until your itinerary is complete. And let ChatGPT know if it’s not meeting expectations. For example, maybe I want bar recommendations for beyond 10 PM. That’s what I did for day three:
Day 4 looked like this:
Vacation planning has never been easier. Keep in mind that timings might not be an exact match to reality. For instance, ChatGPT is unlikely to account for wait times to enter a major tourist site or know how long it will take you to get through airport security.
4. Feed ChatGPT some links using the link plugin
If you have the Link Reader plugin, you can add links to your ChatGPT prompt. These can be links to sites or a blog post you want it to reference when making the plans.
That way your itinerary will be taking into account the recommendations and ideas of specific people or businesses.
Make sure to provide the links at the beginning as part of your original prompt so that the AI has all the information it needs to write your itinerary. But you can always provide them later and have the AI adapt its recommendations based on the new information you’ve provided.
Filling in the gaps: Hotels and travel arrangements
Not sure where you want to stay or the best way to get to your destination?
In true travel agent style, ChatGPT can help you choose hotels, trains, planes, buses, and more. And it does so with the help of plugin-ins.
Simply turn on either the Expedia or Kayak plug-in I mentioned before and put in a prompt asking for recommendations and advice as needed.
There are so many details you could have ChatGPT pull for you that might be helpful. Here are some ideas:
- Duration of flight between destinations
- Hotel recommendations
- Flight suggestions
- Nearest airports to your destination
- Best areas to stay in
Of course, you’ll need to be the one taking action off the back of these suggestions. So be prepared to book flights, reserve rooms, and action ChatGPTs well thought out travel plans.
How much is this all going to cost?
Great travel agents work within your budget and will be realistic about what money is needed to get the experience you want.
Your ChatGPT agent can help guide you by tallying up the costs for your ideal trip and breaking it down by category so you know how much to invest where.
Remind it, or inform it, of your hotel, and your expectations for the flight (e.g. direct flight, economy with luggage).
Here’s what ChatGPT gave me when I told it to create a table of my expenses:
You can have it be as detailed or simplistic as you want it to be. If you already have a budget in mind, you’ll want to provide that information in your prompt when the AI makes recommendations for restaurants, flights, hotels, and activities.
What should I pack?
Now that you know where you’re going and have all activities and travel planned, you need to pack.
What you pack will depend on the weather and what you get up to, so ask ChatGPT for suggestions on what you need to take with you based on the travel plan it has put together.
Input any information you need to get as precise a packing list as possible. For example, you could tell it what bag size you’re packing (based on your plane ticket’s baggage allowance), you could remind it of the month you’re going, and for how many days, and include any details unique to you such as medications you’ll need to bring.
Here’s what I put in and got out of ChatGPT for my Rome packing list:
The generative AI even told me what my liquids allowance is for the flight and had the foresight to tell me to pack good walking shoes. Because the last thing you want is to wear high heels on cobblestones.
Pulling additional information
Of course, there’s more information out there to help you prepare for your travels.
You may want to know:
- Safety information
- More about the culture
- Go-to phrases in the local language
- General tips about traveling
And you can use ChatGPT to fill in the gaps so that you’re well equipped as a traveler.
Safety is a huge concern among travelers. And it’s natural. You’re in a place you don’t know, surrounded by strangers usually speaking a different language, without knowledge of what areas are safe, what to avoid, and how you should act.
Plus many tourist destinations have criminals who target tourists.
You can have ChatGPT prepare you and protect your travel experience by asking it a series of questions but also by having it give you some general tips about the place you’re traveling to.
Here are some things you can ask:
- How safe is it to go out at night?
- Is [destination] safe for solo travelers?
- Is it safe for Americans to travel to [destination]?
- Are there pickpockets in [destination]?
- How can I prevent being pickpocketed?
I put in a general prompt to get some safety information:
Do as the Romans do! Or the French, the Thai, the Spanish, the… you get the picture.
When you travel, it’s handy to know about the culture so that you don’t unintentionally offend anyone or stick out like a sore thumb. It also prevents you from unintentionally being offended by something or caught off guard.
Plus it’s part of the fun to immerse yourself and feel like you’re one of the locals.
In Italy, for example, Italians don’t drink Cappuccinos past 11, they typically have a pastry for breakfast, they don’t eat dinner until late, and cafes are called ‘bars’.
Have ChatGPT teach you some important facts that will help you fit in and get by while you’re away.
Common phrases in the language
Knowing simple phrases in the natural language of the country you’re visiting is not only polite but incredibly useful.
And in more rural areas, it’s less likely that locals will speak fluent or any English so having key phrases can help you order food, get directions, and have human interaction.
But even in big cities you should try and speak a little of the language.
There’s a plug-in called ‘Speak’ you can use to help you but if you only have ChatGPT 3, you can still use it to translate for you.
Open a chat and ask it to provide useful phrases you’ll need in your destination country.
Here are some ideas for what you’ll need to know:
- How to order food and drink
- How to say please and thank you
- How to ask for directions
- How to ask for help
General tips and more!
If you have any other lingering questions about your travels, plug them into your chat. You’ll be surprised what it can answer.
For instance, you may want to know if you’ll need a VPN on your computer.
You may be looking for specific tips about your activities.
Or you may be looking for random but specific information like: “What is Rome’s equivalent to Central Park?’. Anything you think you need, you can ask it for.
I might ask how I can avoid waiting in long lines in Rome for the Vatican Museums or Coliseum. Think about your destination and your concerns about the trip to come up with questions.
Exporting the information into a user friendly format
Now that you have your full itinerary and all of the tips and tricks you could want on speaking the language and adopting the culture, you need to package it up into a user-friendly format.
I recommend using a Google Doc to host all of the information because they’re available offline (if you set them up to be) and can be accessed on your phone or desktop. That way you can pull it up on your phone when you’re on vacation even without the internet.
You can copy and paste the details from the chat into your doc and organize them by category.
I’d start with travel details such as your flight time, airline, hotel address, and other important details you’ll want to have immediate and easy access to.
Then I’d have my packing list.
Followed by my day-to-day itinerary.
And finally a glossary of safety tips, go-to local phrases and language tips, cultural tips, and the rest of the information I’ve had ChatGPT pull.
You can even prompt ChatGPT to present information in table format so that it’s presented in a digestible format.
Once you’ve exported all of the information, you can share your doc with everyone going on vacation with you.
AI sites dedicated to travel planning you can use
While this guide is dedicated to using ChatGPT for travel planning, there are other tools and websites you can turn to for your travel needs.
Here are a few free tools you can use:
- Roam Around
- Plan by Ixigo
- Genius Trip
- Tripbot (paid plans available at $25 per month)
Travel planning can take hours. Hiring a travel agent can be expensive. But with generative AI you can cut back the costs, save time, and still end up with a custom plan for your vacation. You’ll have a headstart over the other tourists.
Don’t forget to fact check your itinerary
Generative artificial intelligence has come far in the last year but it still has a long way to go.
A popular complaint about ChatGPT is that it can provide false information. Your plug-ins can help prevent this because the AI will pull from live information but even then it’s not foolproof.
My advice is to double check your itinerary and any travel plans ChatGPT has made for you before making a final decision about your trip. The last thing you want to do is be disappointed upon arrival.
So, will you use ChatGPT to plan your next adventure?