There are many online resources that can help with travel research and planning. There are websites that give online reviews, ones that show the best prices, and others that give background and travel information for the sites that you plan to visit. At times it can be overwhelming. Today, I’m going to talk about one way to organize the details of your itinerary and the information you have gathered.
Evernote is a great place to keep all your notes; it is also one of the easiest organizational tools to use. Evernote is a web application – you download the free program to your computer or access it online. Integrated apps for smart phones and tablets are also available.
You can “clip” information from the internet and place it in your Evernote account. If you receive reservation confirmations, you can copy the details and include them with your notes. You can take pictures, make checklists or just write notes.
When you travel, you can take your itinerary and all your collected notes with you on your phone or tablet – just make sure you have saved the final copy to your device – and you will not need to bring your computer.
The basic version is free, but it is limited to two devices – a laptop and your phone, for example. If you want to add an iPad, you will have to delete the phone from your account or pay for the reasonably-priced Plus ($34.99 per year) or Premium ($69.99 per year) service. The upgraded service also offers the availability of viewing saved notes offline, which may be very helpful when you are traveling.
Do you have a dream vacation destination? Every time you see an article about this place, you can save it to your Evernote account. If you find an article about a famous building or monument, a great restaurant, or an interesting hiking trail, save it by using the “web clipper,” a small add-on to the program that is downloaded separately.
Each piece of information that you collect in Evernote is called a “note”. The notes are organized into “notebooks”. Several notebooks can be grouped together in a “stack”.
Reservations and Tickets
When you make reservations for flights, hotels, restaurants or attractions, you can copy and paste email confirmations to your Evernote account so everything is in one place. With Plus or Premium service, you can forward the emails directly to your account.
When organizing your notes into notebooks, you can group together all your hotel reservations, dinner reservations, and so on in separate notebooks. Or you could group everything pertaining to a certain place or to the individual days of your trip.
Mobile tickets or e-tickets can be stored in your Evernote account and easily accessed when they are needed. You can add your own notes to the ticket or reservation, so that everything is together. You can include notes such as, “backpacks are not allowed in the cathedral,” “the museum’s most famous work is…” or “the restaurant’s specialty is seafood.”
Finding your notes
One of the greatest features included in Evernote is the ability to search through all your notes with the search bar. Once you start accumulating notes and notebooks, you may forget where you stored certain information. When the opportunity comes, you can search for everything you’ve saved over the years that pertains to that dream destination – Paris, Venice or somewhere else – and you will have a great start on your travel research. Just enter the key word in the search bar and all the relevant notes will be listed.
In addition to searching in the text you have saved, you can also search for text in pictures. If you hand-write a note and take a picture of it, Evernote will be able to search the text. If you take a picture of a sign, Evernote will recognize the text there, too – a very handy feature.
Dealing with Less Paper
Evernote is a great place to keep track of your travel budget. As you prepay for items, add them to your account. As you are traveling, take pictures of receipts and add these to your Evernote account. They can easily be categorized into meals, lodging, transportation or the categories you choose.
If you are a scrapbooker, consider making a digital scrapbook instead of one that uses all the physical ephemera from your trip – ticket stubs, receipts, and brochures. You can take pictures and store everything in Evernote until you are ready to assemble the digital book.
Packing and Preparation
In Evernote you can make a checklist, so it’s a great place to build your packing list. Each time you think of something you’d like to pack, you can add it to the list. You can make different lists for different kinds of trips and have the lists easily accessible when you are ready to begin packing.
I always suggest that you bring along a copy of your passport, your credit cards, and your driver’s licence if you are driving. You can take a photo of each of these items and store them in Evernote. If you lose something, you will have a place to start in replacing it. The passport copy will be helpful at the embassy, while the credit cards will have contact phone numbers listed on them.
In the same way, you can bring copies of your health insurance and travel insurance cards or policy information.
It is easy to share your notebooks with another person or even a group of people. They can add their own notes and share the notebook back with you. Be careful when you have multiple drafts, though, as it can become confusing. You can also share with people who just need the information – sharing your itinerary with friends or relatives can be done by emailing them a note.
Although I mainly use Evernote for travel, it can be used for many other subjects. I have started notebooks for language learning, recipes and knitting. I have only begun to unlock the possibilities!
Evernote can do a lot, but because of that, it may seem overwhelming at first. If you’ve never used it before, keep your notes and notebooks simple. Learn about the other features – such as making checklists and participating in online collaboration – as you go.
Planning for a long trip does not have to be a chore. With the right tools – like Evernote – you can enjoy the preparation as much as the vacation.