A Holiday planner is a specialised search engine used to find an optimal means of travelling between two or more given locations, sometimes using more than one transport mode. Searches may be optimised on different criteria, for example fastest, shortest, least changes, cheapest. They may be constrained for example to leave or arrive at a certain time, to avoid certain waypoints, etc. A single journey may use a sequence of several modes of transport, meaning that the system may know about public transport services as well as transport networks for private transportation. Trip planning or Journey planning is sometimes distinguished from route planning, where route planning is typically thought of as using private modes of transportation such as driving, walking, or cycling, normally using a single mode at a time. Trip or Journey planning by contrast would make use of at least one public transport mode which operates according to published schedules; given that public transport services only depart at specific times (unlike private transport which may leave at any time), an algorithm must therefore not only find a path to a destination, but seek to optimise it so as to minimise the waiting time incurred for each leg.
Trip planning is used specifically to describe the planning of a route for a passenger, to avoid confusion with the completely separate process of planning the operational journeys to be made by public transport vehicles on which such trips are made.
Trip planners have been widely used in the travel industry since the 1970s by booking agents. The growth of the Internet, the proliferation of geospatial data, and the development of information technologies generally has led to the rapid development of many self-service browser-based on-line intermodal trip planners such as Rome2rio, Google Transit, FromAtoB.com and DistancesBetween.com.
A holiday planner may be used in conjunction with ticketing and reservation systems to find suitable accommodation at all points of the trip.
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