Travelers and travel planners have been using ChatGPT for trip planning purposes. The primary advantage of the AI tool lies in its ability to save time by consolidating valuable information relevant to the trip. However, the extent to which ChatGPT can deliver a personalized and seamless travel plan remains a subject of debate, as there have been instances where it has provided predominantly generic information and, in a few cases, even inaccurate details.
To get the best out of ChatGPT, it is advisable to view it as a source of useful information that is readily available on the Internet. While it undoubtedly saves a significant amount of time, it is essential not to solely rely on its generated itinerary.
Instead, learn to utilize appropriate prompts to get the best answers and complement the information obtained from ChatGPT with other sources, such as human input.
In this article, we outline ways in which you can effectively harness ChatGPT for travel planning while also offering cautionary tips to ensure an overall enjoyable trip.
How to Plan a Trip With ChatGPT
The ChatGPT Advantage
Imagine you’re searching for a list of places to visit in Thailand using Google. Among the search results, you often encounter ads and superficial content that you can easily identify. Sorting through these results to find authentic information requires a significant amount of effort.
In contrast, when you turn to ChatGPT, the experience is notably different. The AI tool comprehends your prompts and provides you with the relevant information. The process is relatively simpler and more effective.
ChatGPT efficiently consolidates information from the web on your behalf, saving you valuable time and effort.
Don’t Provide a Generic Prompt
Generic prompts such as “Plan a trip to Thailand for me,” “Give a list of restaurants serving exotic seafood in Hawaii,” and “Which are the safest areas in Mexico?” often result in ChatGPT providing generic responses. While ChatGPT is capable of understanding more complex queries, it may simply list and describe common tourist spots, popular foods, and areas deemed safe according to government advisories.
To get more specific information, it’s important to ask targeted questions and follow up on ChatGPT’s responses. Here are a few examples:
- “As an asthmatic who loves seafood, I’m interested in finding seafood restaurants in Bangkok that consider customers’ medical conditions. Provide a list of such restaurants;”
- “I’m planning to spend some time on a quiet beach in Goa. Recommend beaches that attract the least number of tourists and provide the approximate number of tourists each of these beaches receives annually.“
In response to the initial prompt, ChatGPT may provide a list of seafood restaurants in Bangkok. To further enhance the quality and accuracy of the responses, you can follow up with specific prompts such as:
- “In these seafood restaurants, do the waiters inquire about customers’ medical conditions that the chef should be aware of?“
- “Are there any specific measures taken by the restaurants to accommodate customers with medical conditions?”
By asking such follow-up questions, you encourage ChatGPT to tap into its learning models and vast data, increasing the likelihood of receiving more precise and accurate information.
Treat ChatGPT Like a Human Travel Advisor
Imagine you want to explore a ski resort in France and decide to consult a travel advisor who customizes itineraries based on detailed information. Similarly, ChatGPT can act as a virtual travel advisor, assisting you in planning your trip by offering tailored recommendations.
By providing specific prompts that include your preferences, family details, and other relevant information, you can help ChatGPT in understanding your needs and providing personalized suggestions.
To maximize your experience, it’s crucial to use intelligent and specific prompts that enable the AI tool to offer the most relevant assistance.
- Tell ChatGPT about the ski resort
“I’m planning a trip to a ski resort in France and need recommendations. Suggest options, considering the following details:” In your prompt, include the following information:
- What is your budget for the resort?
- In which part of the country would you prefer the resort to be located?
- When do you plan to travel?
- Is there a specific average rating by past customers below which you would not accept recommendations?
- Traveling to the resort
To ensure a comprehensive travel plan, it’s essential to consider transportation to and from the ski resort. Here are the additional prompts you can use:
- “I am traveling alone or with a family of 4 from Munich, Germany. I prefer to travel by train to experience the beautiful countryside. Provide me with the best time, fares, and boarding station options for reaching the ski resort. My current location of residence is [insert your location] so that you can suggest the most convenient rail station.”
- “Provide information on the transportation options to reach the ski resort after disembarking from the train. Give me details on fares and any relevant modes of transportation, such as shuttle services or local buses.”
- Resort amenities
To ensure a comprehensive understanding of the ski resort and its amenities, you can ask ChatGPT the following questions:
- “Does the resort have a qualified doctor-on-call? Are there any medical facilities or clinics nearby?”
- “What kind of food does the resort serve? Do they accommodate special requests, such as food customizations due to medical conditions? Provide some reviews or information about their food customization options.”
- “Is the resort pet-friendly? Are there any specific rules or limitations regarding bringing pets?”
Limitations of ChatGPT in Trip Planning
While ChatGPT can be a valuable tool for trip planning, it’s important to be aware of its limitations. Here are some of them to consider:
Lack of real-time information: ChatGPT’s responses are based on pre-existing knowledge and may not incorporate real-time updates. This means that information such as current prices, availability, or last-minute changes may not be accurately reflected.
Incomplete or outdated information: ChatGPT’s training data has a cutoff date, and it may not have access to the most recent information available on the Internet. As a result, some details or recommendations provided by ChatGPT may be outdated or incomplete.
Limited context understanding: ChatGPT may struggle to fully understand complex or nuanced queries, leading to potentially generic or incomplete responses. It may not always grasp the specific context or requirements of your trip, needing more precise prompts or follow-up questions to obtain the desired information.
Lack of personalization: While ChatGPT can provide general recommendations, it may not be able to tailor suggestions to your specific preferences, budget constraints, or unique requirements as effectively as a human travel advisor.
The Bottom Line
ChatGPT can certainly provide helpful responses with intelligent prompting, but it’s important to acknowledge the gap in expertise between an expert travel advisor and an AI tool. According to Lindsay Taylor-Lauer, the director of Luxury and Hosting at Travel Leaders 365 in Highland Park, Ill, while ChatGPT can offer correct answers, it may lack the nuances that human experts possess. Taylor-Lauer explains:
“It’s almost like it gets the big ideas from what’s probably been published, right? The Parisian hotels it listed, yes, they are luxury hotels – but they’re also probably the most famous hotels in Paris. So, are they the most luxury, or are they just the most famous luxury?”
This is where human expertise and contextual understanding come into play. Expert travel advisors can provide insights into the true luxury of a hotel or recommend reliable drivers who are personally known to them for specific routes. These are advantages that ChatGPT does not offer.
While ChatGPT has made significant progress and can assist in creating an itinerary, it’s essential for travelers to exercise due diligence and ensure their trip remains safe and enjoyable.
Conducting additional research, cross-referencing information, and seeking advice from human experts can help supplement the suggestions provided by ChatGPT, ensuring a well-informed and personalized travel experience.
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