Previously, I’ve written about planning with Evernote and Google Sheets and Docs. However, not everyone looks at organization in the same way. If you and your travel partner live in the same house and work together on all your plans, you may not need the collaboration available with Evernote or Google Sheets.
There are other programs and applications (apps) that can help you stay organized and may fit your style better.
Trello works like a bunch of post-it notes that you write to yourself. It’s great for making lists and organizing ideas. It can be used as you plan, but also as an itinerary to share with others.
Trello can be used to create a packing list, a list of hotel reservations, or attractions you’d like to see.
Instead of just a list, the packing list can be made into a checklist, with each item checked off as it is packed.
The best thing about Trello is that it can be personalized to meet your own needs and expectations. Colors and backgrounds can be changed to suit your style.
Trello is not just a travel app – it can be used for any kind of project imaginable. Collaboration is also available with Trello. To learn more about how Trello works, check out the introductory tour here.
Travel Specific Apps
Travel apps like TripCase and TripIt work well to organize flight and hotel reservations. Each one offers desktop and mobile applications that connect with each other. All changes made will show up on the desktop version and the mobile version.
Travel and lodging confirmations can be emailed to the app where they are automatically listed in the order you will use them, creating a complete itinerary. Although the apps recognize most types of lodging, if you stay with friends, or at a small private B&B, you may have to enter the information manually.
Although I’ve grayed out some of the information, you can see that the details of these trips are available in the app. It is easy to check exactly what time a flight is scheduled to leave. Seat assignments, along with terminal and gate information is listed when it is available.
Once your itinerary has been entered into the app, it can be shared with your family and friends.
TripCase also has a page where expenses can be entered by business or pleasure travelers who are documenting their budget.
You may be able to get by just using your email to organize your trip details. To do this, create a folder in which to collect everything that pertains to your trip. All of your reservation confirmations would be collected and stored in the same folder.
My daughter and I used email for our trip in 2012. You can see some of our correspondence in the screenshot. All of the email confirmations were placed in one folder on my email account. The screenshot is from Outlook, but Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, and others allow for the creation of folders within the program or web app.
One drawback for using email only, is that if you do not have a data connection or WiFi access you may not be able to access your email. If your email is only available when you are online, an additional solution would be necessary. Some email programs allow offline email access, but this has to be specifically set up before your trip.
Another drawback with using email, is that the messages cannot be organized in the order that you will need them. They are listed in the order received, sometimes grouped by thread, and this usually cannot be changed.
Using a Binder
Many people are still more comfortable printing all their travel documents and using a binder. There can be advantages to this method if it is done correctly. Using a binder with tabbed pocket dividers is the best way to organize the material.
The beginning of the binder should have an itinerary overview. Plane ticket confirmations or driving information would also be included in this section.
Each following divider can represent one day, one week, or one location, whichever seems appropriate. In each section, you would include an itinerary for the time along with printed lodging confirmations. This would be followed by any pre-purchased tickets or other reservation information. Finally, add printed information about attractions you plan to visit, including hours and days the attraction is open, prices, and any restrictions or suggestions for your visit.
As you continue on your journey and visit the places in the binder, brochures that you’ve picked up can be added to the pockets, so they are available for later reading or scrapbooking.
There are a couple disadvantages to using the binder method. The binder can be heavy to carry with all the printed information and it can get even heavier if you add travel brochures as you go. If you do not have digital copies of your information and only one hard copy, losing that copy would be devastating. If you decide to use the binder method, be sure to leave copies of all important paperwork with someone you can connect to back home. If something would happen to the binder, they would be able to email you copies of the documents you need.
There is no right way or wrong way to organize your travels. If you are looking for a way to improve your travel organization, look at some of the programs or apps that I’ve suggested.
Do you us an app to organize your travel? Do you use a binder? Or do you just wing it? Share what you like about your method – leave a comment below.