The Bottom Line
AAA, the largest motor club in the world, provides free use of its online TripTik system, a valuable trip-planning tool.
Thanks to sophisticated mapping, users can get maps and directions even when they are unable to start with an exact address. Plus, they can pull up proprietary information on thousands of AAA-approved lodgings, which are inspected and rated annually.
- Free! Previously this service was exclusively available to AAA members
- The most comprehensive routing service online and off
- Directions are updated and more reliable than competitive services
- Calculates cost of fuel for trip, but not tolls
- Not compatible with in-car navigation systems
- Cellphone map apps are competition and present real-time road info
- First-time users may find the interface unwieldy (take the demo if you get confused)
- Users can plot trips with up to 20 stopovers
- Mapping options allow you to plot a trip via fastest route, avoiding toll roads, scenic route
- Includes alerts regarding road construction, winter road closures, and traffic congestion
- Users can book AAA-approved hotels from the site, including AAA 5-Diamond Hotels and Resorts
- Don't know an exact address? Use the drop down menu: It identifies locations of airports, attractions, colleges, hotels and more
Expert Review of Free AAA TripTik Travel Planner
I was an AAA member long before I owned a car.
As a traveler who rented a car when I needed to go on a trip, I appreciated the AAA maps, tour books, customized paper TripTiks and hotel discounts that were among the benefits extended to the club's 50 million paying members. (And I also liked the idea that if I broke down, membership provided a place to call that would tow me to the nearest gas station.)
Like many drivers, I'd come to rely on the Web, particularly Google, for maps and directions. I tried free sites such as MapQuest but never found them to be as reliable or offer in-depth information like AAA. Routes often turned out to be circuitous, and roads did not always connect where directions on those other sites said.
I've found the opposite to be true with the AAA TripTik. And now so can you, without paying the membership fee, which is still affordable. In addition to maps and driving directions within the U.S. and Canada, the free online tool has information on:
- location and current fuel pricing information for 100,000+ U.S. gas stations
- 59,000 AAA-approved lodgings, with their diamond ratings
- 28,500 restaurants
- 16,300 attractions
- 7,700 approved auto repair facilities
- 6,500 descriptions of cities, parks, regions with attractions, events, and recreational areas
The new tool is optimized for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari browsers. Drag-and-drop functionality enables users to quickly make itinerary changes and rollovers yield deeper travel information.
To create a customized TripTik, simply go to the AAA TripTik page. It will identify your location and the AAA region you are in. Then keystroke in the exact location that you are starting from and where you want to end up.
Need to make several stops along the way? The TripTik can also map those routes and provide detailed directions to each destination.
Once you're satisfied with your customized AAA online travel planner, you can print it out with full route details or limit it to maps only. Additionally, you can email it to yourself as a PDF, inform anyone else involved in your journey and also post the trip's URL to Facebook or on Twitter.
Free AAA Apps
Keeping up with the times, AAA also offers free apps to Android/Google Play and iOS/iPhone users who are members of the organization. Although it claims, "AAA Mobile provides on-the-go access to AAA services including travel planning tools, discounts and rewards, and roadside assistance," many users left negative comments regarding the early versions of these apps.
Note: AAA's paper maps, tour books, customized paper TripTiks, hotel discounts and roadside assistance are still members-only benefits. The organization believes that as more and more Web users come to appreciate the value and reliability of the free AAA TripTik travel planner, they'll decide to join the not-for-profit corporation, which will enable it to provide even deeper discounts and benefits to members.