You saved your money, chosen your travel dream locale, and made numerous bookings. Yay! Crafting travel plans is fun. You get to choose the places you feel are a must-see and which ones are not.
Should we spend more time at the museum, or go to a show? And most important to me, where are the best places to eat?
Making all these decisions can be overwhelming… But you’ve done it! And now you have a virtual blizzard of paper and emails confirming all the things you’ve planned.
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How do you keep all your ideas and bookings neatly organized? You’ve got rail tickets or airline e-ticket numbers, hotel confirmations, site tours, and shows. Now you need to know how to organize travel plans, so you don’t lose or forget anything!
There are as many ways of solving the age-old problem of keeping your travel plans in check as people are traveling our beautiful planet. But when all is said and done, there are really just two methods: You can go digital and put all your travel plans in an app, or get really organized with paper.
How To Organize Travel Plans The Digital Way
These days there is an app for doing just about anything you want to do. Why use an app? Well, if you are like most people, your smartphone is probably never far from your side.
This means that if you are looking for how to organize travel plans, an app makes perfect sense. With an app on your phone, your travel plans are always right there with you.
There are literally dozens of apps to choose from. I don’t have an Android phone, but I’ve checked, and all are available for both iOS and Android.
As travel planning tools go, these apps come in mighty handy. But different apps have better functions depending on the type of traveling you do or how you organize your thoughts.
Tripit and TripCase
When I first started thinking of how to organize travel plans, I immediately thought of apps for my phone.
Two of the most popular apps to organize travel plans are Tripit and Tripcase. There are free and paid versions of both apps. I’ve only felt a need for the free version so far but am tempted to upgrade to the paid version for an upcoming two-month long trip.
If you give the app permission, it scans your inbox for travel confirmations from airlines, hotels, and cruise lines and automatically puts them in the itinerary. Or you can email your plans to the app, and the system drops them into your itinerary. You can make manual additions when all else fails.
These apps both sync across the web, so if you don’t have your phone, you can access your travel plans from any computer or tablet, and you are in business. Adding documents, like a boarding pass or digital passport, is as easy as uploading a PDF.
When you are done getting all your plans in one place, you can sync these plans with your calendar. Sharing your fantastic upcoming trip is easy, with many options from email to text to LinkedIn and more.
Picture one big inbox for your life… with great filters. That is the aim of Evernote: the app for note-taking, organizing, and task management.
You can “take notes” in many different ways. Typed notes, handwritten notes, photos, sketches, PDFs, websites, audio clips, videos… the list goes on and on. Why is Evernote a good way to organize travel plans? Ease of use.
Evernote even has a template to get you started on your travel plans notebook.
With Evernote, you can sync your notes (travel plans) across devices. This makes it easy to keep track of all those bits and pieces of paper you’ve been accumulating for your trip. While not intended for travel, it can sure be a big help!
Organizing Your Travel Plans Digitally Can Be The Best Way
All of these apps allow sharing with others. You can set up reminders and integrate your plans with most calendar apps. So if you set up your travel plans well in the app, you shouldn’t miss a thing.
There are tons of travel apps I don’t talk about here. This is not a review of travel plan apps, just talking about how to organize your travel plans. If I didn’t mention your favorite, please leave a note in the comments and let me know what the app is and why you like it.
The Paper-Persons Guide On How To Organize Travel Plans
My husband lives and dies by his travel binder. Every piece of paper, every email (yes, he will print them out) is in his binder in date order. This is how he organizes travel plans
All of this starts by creating an itinerary. DH does this in word, but I recently asked if moving it over to excel might be better. He is considering this. You can also use google docs or spreadsheets, whatever works for you.
The itinerary is always the first page in his binder, right on top. He also prints out the itinerary in the full 8 -1/2 x 11 size and in smaller 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 sizes. These all get laminated. Why you ask?
We put copies of the itinerary in each of our bags. If a bag is lost, we are hopeful that the agent at the train station or airport, or cruise port will look through the bag and find the itinerary.
The idea behind having the itinerary in our bags is it will allow the finder of the bag to either give us a call or send the bag along to the next destination. We haven’t had to test this theory yet, (knock on wood) but are hopeful it will work.
The Binder Method For Travel Plans Is Straight Forward
How to organize travel plans? You start with the itinerary on top. Then add separators by date or city depending on the need. Or if you are like my DH, just by number. (Do you see on the sample itinerary where he has numbered each day?)
In each section, you slip in the confirmations from hotels, tickets you purchased in advance, such as Eurail tickets or a JapanRail Pass. You may want to include some plastic pockets to hold the items you should hole-punch.
Also kept in the binder are copies of other vital documents that may be needed while traveling. For example, passports, driver’s licenses, and credit/debit cards (front and back). If you lose these items, they are stolen; having a copy will get you back on track faster.
If you read my post on How to Plan a Trip, you know I recommend scanning these documents and uploading them to a secure document center. But there is always a chance that you won’t have access to these digital copies.
Traveler Personal and Health Information
Suppose you or someone you are traveling with is taking prescription medications. In that case, you will want to have a copy of the prescription from the doctor. If you need to refill drugs while traveling, many countries won’t fill just from the prescription bottle’s information.
A note of caution you should keep all medications, over the counter or prescription, in their original bottles. You don’t want to guess what pill is when the customs officer is asking you.
And last but not least, a copy of your travel insurance policy. What, you don’t use travel insurance? You are once crazy, confident, risk-taker! But if you change your mind and want to ensure you can get home when the next pandemic strikes, check out what AXA Travel Insurance has to offer.
Travel Plan Organization – Paper vs. Digital – Why We Use Both!
Yay for Paper! But all that paper is bulky! Generally, when we are in transit, this big binder is in my husband’s backpack up in the overhead. My phone is on my person. (I may be addicted, but I love having my phone close at hand.)
If we need to check something, I can quickly look it up on the app on my phone. The same thing applies while we are out and about walking in the city. We don’t carry that binder with us, but we do have our phones.
I love having access to my plans digitally. I always have my phone pretty close at hand. But there are instances where having paper backups are a terrific idea.
In Amsterdam, my daughter was pickpocketed. Yup, they got her phone. She was “lucky” that she was carrying two phones, her work phone and her personal phone. Without a secondary way to access her travel plans, she probably would not have been on her flight home later that day.
One time in Frankfurt, we were late for a connecting flight and did not have a boarding pass. But we did have our paper tickets. When we showed up at the security checkpoint, the paper ticket got us through. The gentleman behind us did not have a boarding pass or paper ticket and did not get through.
How to organize travel plans? At least for now, I work the app, and my husband hauls the binder.