Whenever our plans call for an extended trip, I’ll put together a booklet which captures all the key details – a Google calendar with key data, and sections for flights, hotels, restaurants, and other critical information relating to the trip. You can too – and there’s no heavy lifting involved at all.
We’ve already established that I have access to a spiral binding machine, and here’s another use for it (any Staples, Kinko’s, or Office Max can help as well, for a modest fee, or you can simply use a heavy duty stapler).
I’ll place a simple Google Calendar at the front of the book (under a clear cover), with plenty of space for me to jot in restaurant reservations, must-see sites, and the like:
The calendar contains all the absolutely essential info relating to the trip – flight #’s and times, hotel reservations and confirmation #’s, and the like. If we’ve decided up front that we’re going to visit a particular site or (on a golf trip) play a certain course and already have a tee time, it also goes into the calendar. Free time is available for reservations we haven’t made yet, or impromptu plans. The important thing is you can see the key items at a glance. I’ll use as many pages, printed week by week, as necessary.
From there, it’s equally simple. I create a section for hotel-related info, flight information, restaurants that we want to experience, and perhaps a general section. In this case I made section dividers out of some card stock I had on hand:
The emailed hotel reservation confirmations are in this section, and if there’s ever a question, I’ve got the information I need right at hand.
Before anyone writes in stating the obvious, let me point out that I realize that Google Maps is by nature an online and interactive application; I get it. But if I’ve created a Google Map for the trip, I nevertheless will print it out, along with all the supporting info for each of the attractions I’ve added to the map. On a flight, or somewhere where I lack an internet connection, I can still quickly review the things we want to experience, whenever I wish:
In the restaurant section, I’ll include a map and the 1st overview page from Google Maps, which provides a few reviews, phone numbers, and a list of accepted credit cards. Sometimes I’ll jot down the TripAdvisor ratings, or note if a friend recommended this particular spot:
I think you get the picture. One other important point: you can photocopy, or if you have a scanner with a feeder, scan all the documents before you assemble your Trip Planner. That way you can email yourself the scan, or give your partner a copy if you’ve photocopied things, so you have a backup should you forget or somehow (don’t do this) lose your copy.
The spiral binding keeps things neat, and if you so desire, you can rip out pages after they’re no longer relevant or useful.
How about you? Have any clever ways you keep things organized when you’re embarking on a longer trip? If yes, I’d love to learn about your technique – and I’m sure Practical Hacks readers would as well – please share by commenting.
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