ChatGPT can spit out almost limitless information, from a book report to software code, but it is not perfect. To put ChatGPT to the test, I ran several prompts to help plan my upcoming vacation. Now, I already have plans in mind, but I wanted to see what ChatGPT would recommend before throwing in some important details.
Surprisingly, ChatGPT did a good job of providing an itinerary as well as a breakdown of the best things to do. It is worth noting that ChatGPT provided a lot of information that I felt was not really essential but could still be useful for first-time travelers. Find out how my vacation planning with ChatGPT turned out.
What’s Special About ChatGPT for Vacation Planning?
Vacation planning can be overwhelming, especially when traveling to a new destination. There are many stories of people using ChatGPT and other AI tools to plan an entire vacation. This comes at a time when the use of travel agents is on the decline, and AI could put an end to the entire industry. Unfortunately, ChatGPT cannot book your entire trip, but it can certainly offer suggestions.
What is really special is that ChatGPT has access to limitless information, which means it can provide a lot more detailed information than a travel agent ever could. More importantly, ChatGPT can save you hours of research. There are so many things to learn before traveling to a new destination, and ChatGPT can easily help you brainstorm places to go, the best times to visit, and what to do when you get there.
A Full Overview of ChatGPT for Vacation Planning
I wanted to experiment with how much information ChatGPT could provide, so I started with, “I need help planning a vacation. Where should I start?” It then provided fifteen bullet points along with a short description of that step. I used this information as the basis of my planning and then asked ChatGPT to go into further detail about each.
Set a Budget
After providing me with an outline, I proceeded to ask for more details about each step. Unfortunately, it didn’t offer much help with setting a budget. All it would do is list potential expenses to plan for. In reality, this is all you can ask for since ChatGPT doesn’t know your financial situation. In my case, I already had a rough budget based on how much I was willing to spend and estimated costs.
ChatGPT recommended selecting a preferred destination based on things to do. For instance, going to the beach, hiking in the mountains, or visiting historical sites. This is another decision that you will have to make since ChatGPT can’t read your mind (yet). For my experiment, I already planned on visiting Southern California to see some local attractions.
I told ChatGPT my intention to visit Southern California, and it provided a great list of things to do. The list even included brief descriptions of each destination. It was also nice to see that ChatGPT came up with a mix of free and paid things to do, including visiting a theme park, a beach, national forests, and a zoo. This is a big help if you are visiting an area for the first time and are unfamiliar with popular things to do.
Consider Travel Dates
I did not provide ChatGPT with a travel timeframe, so it gave me a pretty basic response. The chatbot simply reminded me to consider factors like weather and holidays. It also provided some relevant information about the general crowd and travel trends in the area.
Book Flights and Accommodations
Next, ChatGPT recommended I book a flight followed by a hotel. Unfortunately, ChatGPT cannot search the web for flights and hotels, so it really didn’t provide any help. Hopefully, this capability will come in the future as it would save a ton of time and aggravation.
Plan Your Itinerary
Planning an itinerary is where ChatGPT really helped. I asked for an itinerary to use when visiting Southern California, and it gave me a full breakdown of everything I should do each day. I still hadn’t provided a set number of days, so it picked seven, which feels sufficient. What really surprised me was the practicality of the plan. There is more than enough time to visit each destination, and there is something for everyone.
Check Travel Requirements
Another thing that ChatGPT does well is providing a list of must-know information about a destination. Since I am traveling domestically, there wasn’t much to know. So, I asked ChatGPT about a few international destinations, and it provided information about visas, vaccine requirements, and safety concerns. While it offers a good overview, always double-check the information.
Packing is pretty straightforward, especially for frequent travelers. However, it is easy to forget essential items. ChatGPT didn’t have any groundbreaking information here, but it did provide some specifics based on my itinerary. This could be very helpful for trips that require special gear, like skiing or scuba diving.
At this point, it felt like ChatGPT was starting to grasp at straws, but the tips were still useful. I asked ChatGPT to give me the best option to get around Southern California based on my itinerary. It broke down the best method for each day, including a mix of ridesharing, car rental, and public transportation.
Again, ChatGPT started to repeat itself by recommending to research various destinations that were already covered in the planning phase. The only value here was letting me know which attractions required tickets so I could pre-purchase them. The whole point of using ChatGPT is to avoid research, so this felt pretty pointless.
Budget for Miscellaneous Expenses
ChatGPT provided a list of incidental expenses to prepare for. Hopefully, these were already accounted for in your initial budget. This will mainly come down to how much you plan on spending on food and souvenirs. It also recommended pre-purchasing attraction tickets for the best price.
Safety and Health Precautions
This feels like a bigger concern for international travel, but it was also very relevant during the pandemic. There were no major warnings about traveling to Southern California, just simple notes about traffic density and avoiding being the target of petty crimes.
Insurance and Emergency Plans
Expanding on health and safety, ChatGPT had a few things to say about planning for emergencies. First was getting travel insurance to cover your travel expenses and medical bills should something happen. Besides purchasing travel insurance, ChatGPT also provided a list of phone numbers you should carry, including the hotel and airline.
Communicate Your Plans
Lastly, ChatGPT gave some basic information as to who you should inform about travel plans. It also had a reminder to avoid posting that you are away on social media. In addition, you should make sure someone knows your itinerary and how to reach you in case of an emergency back home. ChatGPT even said what you must do to prepare, like holding mail and turning off major appliances.
Pushing ChatGPT for Vacation Planning to the Limit
ChatGPT did an overall good job on the basics of trip planning, but I wanted to put it to a real test. Since ChatGPT recommended a visit to Disneyland on day four, I wanted to see if it would give me a guide to tour the park. Unfortunately, the flaws in AI started to become apparent as it recommended closed rides and even repeated itself.
It told me to arrive at the gates before the park opens and then go straight to classic Fantasyland attractions. This may not be the best use of time, but it will suffice. Next, ChatGPT said to visit Frontierland and Adventureland, but it recommended riding Splash Mountain, which is not only permanently closed but is not part of either land.
The rest of the plan was pretty good, with the exception of visiting Splash Mountain in Critter Country, which is its actual location in the park, but the ride is closed. Finally, ChatGPT reminded me to use FastPass, which is no longer used at Disney theme parks. This just goes to show that ChatGPT is not a replacement for doing your own research.
Did ChatGPT for Vacation Planning Work?
In a broad sense, ChatGPT can help plan your vacation. However, I already had the basics in my mind, and ChatGPT reiterated many obvious things. That said, it is a great tool for someone just starting to plan a large trip. For instance, AI would be a great option for overseas vacation planning or using it to find the best places to visit in an area.
Getting broad ideas is where chatbots really shine, but it starts to flounder when asked about specifics. This could cause some major grief if ChatGPT recommends visiting somewhere that is closed when you plan to visit. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised by how it managed to plan out my days, as well as provide transportation options.
Should You Use ChatGPT for Vacation Planning?
Based on my experience, you should use ChatGPT for brainstorming places to visit and things to do, but you should not follow every word it says. Because ChatGPT is a language model, it cannot reason and come to its own conclusions. All of the information it finds is based on something that is already available on the internet.
This is why it recommended a closed attraction to me. In addition, ChatGPT cannot give you details about time and scheduling. However, the biggest potential problem comes from taking advice about international travel, which can have complex visa processes. Ultimately, you are likely spending too much money on vacation to leave it up to ChatGPT.
ChatGPT for Vacation Planning Alternatives
I used the free version of ChatGPT (3.5) for my vacation planning since it is the most popular chatbot. However, there are several ways that you can get better information. One of which is connecting ChatGPT to the internet so it has up-to-date information. Another option is to use ChatGPT 4, which is much better at reasoning and logic.
There are also custom AI tools that are specifically designed to help you plan a vacation. Roam Around is the best AI travel planner right now. Other travel sites have AI tools that can complete specific tasks, like finding the most affordable time to travel. However, the best alternative to AI is still a human travel agent who can provide custom plans based on industry knowledge and experience.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Ascannio/Shutterstock.com.