I Followed an AI-Generated Travel Itinerary—Here’s How It Went

Planning a trip is deceivingly difficult. Going into it, I always assume designing an itinerary will be quick, seamless, and fun. Yet somehow, a few hours later, the only thing I have to show for it is 50 open tabs and a huffing and puffing computer that’s fruitlessly trying to keep up. It takes hours of scrolling to sift through the never-ending recommendations, find the gems, and plan a personalized itinerary based on that information. Back in the day, you might’ve tapped a travel agent to plan your itinerary, but with today’s access to endless online information, that can feel like a waste of money. A few weeks ago, I was at the spiraling-and-slamming-my-computer-shut point of trying to plan a trip when I had a lightbulb moment. What if there were a free travel agent who could give me a personalized itinerary with no effort on my end?

This train of thought led me to a potential answer to my travel woes: artificial intelligence. With the looming threat of AI stealing all of our jobs and taking over the world (OK, maybe it’s not that serious), why can’t it at least do me a solid and make my travel planning a little easier? I decided to put my theory to the test, and I asked ChatGPT to create a day trip itinerary for me in Austin, Texas. Then, I followed the itinerary to see if AI is the 2024 travel agent we all need: a free one. Keep reading for my honest thoughts after testing an AI travel itinerary.

ai travel itinerary
Source: Lauren Blue

My AI travel itinerary for a day in Austin, Texas

Here is the AI travel itinerary Chat GPT gave me for my day in Austin:

  • 8 a.m. – Breakfast at Juan in a Million
  • 9:30 a.m. – Explore Zilker Park
  • 11:30 a.m. – Visit Barton Springs Pool
  • 1 p.m. – Lunch at Terry Black’s BBQ
  • 2:30 – Visit the Texas State Capitol
  • 4 p.m. – Stroll down South Congress Avenue
  • 5:30 p.m. – Dinner at Home Slice Pizza
  • 7 p.m. – Head to the Congress Avenue Bridge
  • 8:15 p.m. – Watch the bats at sunset
  • 9 p.m. – Relax with a drink

My thoughts after following the itinerary:

The recommendations were spot-on

The most important part of the experiment was seeing if the places AI recommended were even worth going to. The answer is a resounding yes. The sites it told us to visit are well-vetted, popular, and recognizable. As an Austin local, I would echo AI’s advice to anyone visiting. I even show my friends many of these places when they’re visiting the city. The one caveat is that some recs may not be an absolute must-see if you’re only in town for a short window of time. For example, one version of an itinerary told us to go to the Texas History Museum, which is easily skippable unless you’re a history buff.

As far as restaurants go, I would double-check online to see if where AI tells you to eat matches the ambience you desire. A few of the restaurants it recommended are Austin legends according to us locals, but they aren’t necessarily a massive draw for tourists. The food at these spots is nostalgic for someone who grew up here, but if you’re just visiting, there might be other places higher up on your priority list.

ai travel itinerary
Source: Lauren Blue

The itinerary was a bit too packed

This AI travel itinerary made for a hectic day that wasn’t realistic for just 24 hours. As we were hopping around town, we wished ChatGPT had scheduled some breaks for us. I’ll also mention that when I initially asked for an itinerary, it gave me an even longer list of things to do, so this schedule resulted after respectfully asking AI to reel in its expectations. Even after it nixed a few spots, the itinerary still felt a tad overwhelming. If you’re using AI to create your schedule, remember that it might not understand the need for rest in between activities, resulting in an overfilled plate.

It was easy to customize an itinerary

Even though my AI-generated itinerary was a bit too ambitious, it’s super easy to make adjustments in ChatGPT. You can ask it to include specific places, choose activities based on a specific vibe, or scale back the day, as I needed to. Making these changes all in one place is more convenient than going back to the drawing board with your research to figure out what should be on the chopping block.

ai travel itinerary
Source: Lauren Blue

The activities were very casual

Every time you ask ChatGPT to design an itinerary, you’ll get a slightly different version. After experimenting with this for so long that my eyes glazed over (and still not knowing which one to pick), I just chose the first one it gave me to test. The activities and restaurants it recommended ended up leaning very casual, which was perfect for my spontaneous Saturday experiment. However, if you brought a cute outfit to strut the town in, you would probably want to choose an itinerary that included fancier restaurants and destinations. So, if there’s a specific vibe you’re going for, I would include that in your instructions, and do a Google search to ensure the recs match your expectations.

It was a great starting point for research

I was very pleasantly surprised with how well AI created a travel itinerary. Any software that can solve perhaps the worst part of traveling with a group—the dreaded “soooo where do we eat” song and dance—is a win in my book. However, I wouldn’t use an AI travel itinerary as your only form of research for your trip. It’s a fantastic starting point, but comparing it with other online advice is worthwhile to ensure your itinerary meets your travel needs.

The final verdict on AI travel itineraries

AI, you might just be my new travel agent. I hate to reveal myself as an undercover pessimist, but I fully expected AI to crash and burn with this experiment. Or, at the very least, I anticipated an “eh, whatever, not worth it” sort of review, but here I am officially cosigning AI travel itineraries. It’s a helpful tool that can lessen the load of planning a trip so you can focus on actually enjoying your vacation. As someone who borderline obsessively researches every trip (can AI fix my control issues yet?), I will definitely turn to AI in the future to help. So if you’re currently trying to squeeze trip planning into your lunch breaks or after work, consider letting AI do some of the work.

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