By Jessica Hoffman
When planning a trip across India, expect to be shocked by the number of ways you can go from point A to point B. According to Amit Somani from website MakeMyTrip.com, the country's 1.2 billion people and its thousands of cities are connected by a staggering 18.5 million routes that involve a transfer (like from a bus to a train).
"Only two percent of them, just 400,000 routes, are direct connections," says Soman. Add just one more stop for a "three-hop route between these 4,300 cities," and Somani says you're up to an astonishing 27 billion possible routes, a number that can overwhelm even a seasoned commuter.
India may be the most perfect example of the complicated choices that travelers face, but the problem isn't unique. Here we present four hot companies that are striving to solve the problem of complicated travel routes:
In India, and now around the world, the Route Planner (from the aforementioned MakeMyTrip) aims to take the headache out of the equation. Simply enter your departure location and your destination, and in an instant Route Planner displays the best 10 routes between locations, complete with route times, prices and direct booking options. The website covers more than 1 billion multi-modal routes and provides service via Web, mobile apps and even SMS. The company's technology was well-received when it was showcased at the 2013 PhoCusWright travel technology conference, where the company was recognized as the most innovative new travel service in the business-to-consumer space.
The CEO of route planning website WanderU was struck with the idea for the service while on a road trip of her own. In 2011, Polina Raygorodskaya and Igor Bratnikov--a WanderU co-founder--were traveling cross-country to promote rideshares when they found themselves stranded after a last-minute cancellation. The struggle to find a ride led them to the idea of "a search to help people find ground transportation between any two points in the country."
From that idea grew WanderU. With coverage along the East Coast from Montreal to Miami, users can find and select bus and train routes between any two cities, add stops along the way, and even select amenities like added leg room, Wi-Fi access and more. Polina and Igor themselves used the service from Boston to Austin on "a week-long bus road trip [with stops] in Nashville, Montgomery and New Orleans."
While WanderU currently only covers the eastern United States, Polina says the ultimate goal is becoming "the travel search for the next generation." Watch for more expansions to come as it focuses on widening its coverage to the entire U.S.
No matter where you are or where you want to be, Rome2Rio can get you there. It has partnered with hundreds of airlines, train and ferry operators and thousands of bus operators to provide you the best possible route from anywhere to anywhere.
Based in Melbourne, Australia, Rome2Rio is constantly working to expand its global transportation network. Want to go from Charlotte to Granada? Type in the search terms and see all your options, including layovers, alternate routes, accommodations and cost of each leg of the trip.
Eco-conscious travelers will especially love the site's "Carbon Footprint" option. Select it when you choose a route to see what you can do to reduce the effect of your trip on the environment.
We simply can't leave Google Maps off this list, even though it's not a dedicated travel company like MakeMyTrip, WanderU or Rome2Rio. The reason we can't ignore Google is the popularity of the Google Maps application. Roughly 54 percent of all smartphone users accessed its services in 2013, and it was the fifth most downloaded iPhone app of 2013 (only Vine, YouTube and two game apps were more popular). It's not hard to understand why, either; the app is highly intuitive, accurate--provided you've enabled your phone's GPS--and offers the top three routes to your destination, quickly displaying distance and time for each route. Users can easily alter the route by selecting various modes of transportation, from public transport to personal vehicle and even walking. The only downside is that Google Flights is still not integrated into the Maps tool.
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