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What's on your spreadsheet?

This sounds like I want to peek into your refrigerator, but I'm just curious. Many travelers use a spreadsheet or table for planning and executing their trips.

What's on yours?

Mine has a day # (starting with "0" for departure day), day of week (M, T, W...), and date (5/10). Followed by place name, hotel address/phone/email/reservation #, then transportation with departure time, changes, arrival time, cost; then sights for each day; total daily budget, detail budget noting hotel cost, estimated cost for meals, sights/museums/passes, transportation, and finally a column for cash on hand (in euro).

Packing list is separate but also ridiculously detailed, like what item goes in what bag (20" wheeled bag and Civita daybag), and what I already have and what I need to buy.

Anybody want to share?

Posted by
3923 posts

We just go :-). Seriously, we take a blank calendar for the month(s) we'll be traveling. At the top of the calendar we write little lists of the 20-30 things we'd like to do or see in our area. Each day we look at our list and pick a couple of things to do and set out to see them. Of an evening we fill in the blank squares on our calendar with what we did that day. When we get back it helps us identify and organize pictures better.

In all fairness if we've pre booked something like a play, museum or overnight stay somewhere we'll pencil that in before we go.

Posted by
2487 posts

I use a spreadsheet only for global planning. The reason is my fear that I get hotel reservations and the occasional long-distance train ticket for the wrong day. Being a notorious bad bookkeeper, I do my budgetting intuitively.
I still have the plan to have a suitcase ready with all the things I had taken the last time, so I don't have to think about the packing. But it's still, after all these decades, the old system of sitting next to my suitcase and counting the t-shirts and socks, trying not to forget the shampoo, deciding about what reading material to take with me, and going back to the attic ten times for something I forgot.

Posted by
7195 posts

To help prioritize and schedule sightseeing, we use Rick Steves' handy charts of top sights (the ones he includes in his books for many major locations, listed in order of 3-triangles to no-triangles ratings), but put that into a spreadsheet with additional details, including the cost.

That helps us create and customize our own for sights. For less-major destinations where Rick doesn't provide his own list, we can create our own.

Posted by
11178 posts

Yours is more thorough than mine, but I do add in Sunrise/Sunset times. Helps me plan what to do when.

Otherwise I have a Day/Date Column followed by Activity, Appx Time (we will do said activity), Sites included in said activity), Days/Hours (for that site), Notes, Cost per person, and Extended cost (for two). And there is a daily total but I do not add my food or lodging in there as I know my average-per-day quite well by now. I put a lot of details under "Activity" including train numbers, hotel/apartment names and locations.

I also make a separate worksheet for Site Days & Times where I can get very detailed about each museum, historical site, etc., and list admissions, whether a pass is accepted, etc. This helps me figure out if a pass makes economic sense.

There is also a worksheet with Restaurant ideas, along with who recommended them or where I saw them recommended.

During the trip Io record all expenses by type in another worksheet so that at the end of the trip I have my totals by type: Lodging, Food, Admissions, Transportation, and Misc.

Packing list can be yet another worksheet.

Posted by
5697 posts

My spreadsheet is much like Zoe's except that
1) no daily budget -- for planning purposes I have columns for hotel costs, transportation costs and "other" pre-planned big costs like museum passes but for overall cost of the trip I add in x days times $100 or $150 for meals, souvenirs, and "stuff". At the end of the trip, I use credit card charges and ATM withdrawals to get the actual total cost (using Quicken downloads, coding items to a specific trip name like 'New Orleans 2015')
2) cash on hand is monitored using a pocket notebook -- count up what's in our pockets/money belts, write down what we spent during the day and see if beginning cash (actual as previously counted) plus ATM withdrawals less expenses equals (or is close to) current actual cash. This is just to make sure we haven't lost control of cash and to decide when it's time to hit the ATM again.

Posted by
13675 posts

Well, Laurel, I also do sunrise/sunset times on my spreadsheet itinerary!

Someone this summer posted a link to their itinerary using Google Docs and since I am nearly spreadsheet illiterate I used his suggestions and did my itinerary on there. I had columns for Date/Place&Activities/Transportation/Accommodation. In actuality in addition to hotels/addresses/conf #s, I used the Accommodation slot to put in possibilities for restaurants while out touring, reminder to extend the travel dates on one of my credit cards (dumb that they will only allow 30 days at a time), reminders to get sack lunches for the next day on some of my RS tour days, etc. The GoogleDocs site worked well for me as altho I printed it out, I could also access it on my iPad Mini and iPhone. I went on 2 RS tours so split the Doc after the UK portion which gave me an area to put in directions a RS forum member gave me to Castlerigg as well as some other sightseeing info that was too long for the body of the itinerary. I will use this format again as it felt clean and easy to read.

I also have Excel spreadsheets for my Packing lists (clothing and misc) and a separate one that is a Master List for a To do Countdown list up to the day before I leave. I do pretty much have it divided in to 20" wheeled bag and day bag (whether it is a purse, Veloce or tote bag). I also have a separate packing list for birding trips.

Don't keep any kind of budget as I go. I'm not a big spender and it is what it is. I know how much I've got in my 2 debit accounts and decide each evening if I need to go to the ATM the next day. This year I did goof and wound up with too many Euro at the end of my trip. Oh well, guess I have to go back, lol!

Posted by
328 posts

My packing list is in a spread sheet. One for each person travelling. I color code for what I have gathered, what needs to be purchased, and what I have but need to put in the gathering spot. I also have a to-do list on this. (Call banks, figure out who is caring for the cats, etc.) That is the list that keeps growing.

In terms of my itinerary, I normally do the plan in word. I did a calendar at the top with the days listed of where we would be (I am a visual person, I need to SEE it to understand it). I have all the addresses for the hotel and confirmation numbers. Also addresses of places I must go. But that needs updating badly. I think I am going to rework how I am doing this so I dont feel like I am making a guide book ;)

I saw on here where someone took a 3x5 note card an listed each thing. So I am playing around with that idea too.

I am also using maps.google.com/mymaps to plot out each place I want to go. I am kind of obsessed with it. I can also change the icons on it to indicate if it is a place to eat, take a photo, or place to shop. I also noticed today that I can add in links. (So this is how I am able to save all the fantastic place advice I am finding on here) You can also add in directions. Just figured that one out. I am like a little kid in a candy shop. Then again, pouring over maps is somethink I love to do!!

Fun question! I love seeing and learning from others

Posted by
650 posts

We typically are gone for a month at a time. I have a master calendar which shows flights, trains, apartments and other accommodations, and reserved sights, and when to call ahead for apartments and sights. This covers the whole trip and includes reservation numbers, phone numbers addresses and directions. It is never larger than a single page. Everyone in our family has a hard copy of this. Clipped under my copy are all of the pre-printed tickets and reservations. (A separate file holds all apartment correspondence. I've never needed this, but I bring it. )

For each city I have a cheat sheet showing the days we will be there in calendar form at the top with fixed entrance or travel times in the top row. The relevant reservation numbers, directions etc. from the master calendar are repeated there including things to call ahead for in the next city. Suggested day itineraries are in the next row down usually with alternatives and other build in flexibility. The third row shows closures, early and late openings and crowded days for the sights. Just under the calendar are a list of the major sights we want to see for sure. Then I list area by area the sights cost and opening times with stars 1-5 for our personal interest. This is all printed very small and rarely takes more than a page. Everyone gets a copy. I clip maps and relevant guide book pages behind mine. We don't bring full guide books ever.

Posted by
1229 posts

I do not even know how to do a spreadsheet! I use a blank calendar page and fill in my needed info.

I print out all copies of room reservations and keep my email copies on my phone, also.

I rarely plan my sites, mostly just wing it, unless it someplace that requires a reservation.

I don't plan a budget, I am normally a frugal person and know how much I can spend. I can picnic and eat cheaply, don't go to high end restaurants.

I don't make a packing list, I only take one carryon. I am fairly OCD, and check multiple times to make sure I have everything!

I know many people couldn't travel like this, but it works for me.

Posted by
7175 posts

I will compile a Word document in landscape format. Excel is too office like.

ARRIVAL DATE | ARRIVAL TIME | DESTINATION | ACCOMMODATION | PRICE | DEPARTURE DATE | DEPARTURE TIME | FLIGHT or TRAIN #

Each destination will get its own separate sightseeing and restaurant notes. The amount of detail usually depending how organised I wish to be in the time available.

Posted by
2581 posts

No spreadsheet, in my planning stages I just use a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 paper and write various activities and such for each day, based on opening times and relative proximity, and by the time I'm ready to go I've fine-tuned it and then transfer to a small (approx. 4" x 6") notebook that also includes a currency converter for non-Euro countries, my hotel and flight info and a page for each day, sometimes with metro stops noted. I also use it as a travel journal, can usually fit 2 trips into one notebook.

I have a master packing list that I use for every trip. I estimate some of my anticipated costs before leaving so I can get enough cash at the ATM upon arrival but otherwise I don't really keep track of expenditures.

Posted by
11613 posts

Michael Schneider, you are an inspiration! I take long and inexpensive trips so I have found (through trial and sometimes expensive error) I need to plan details. I try to turn money into time.

Posted by
544 posts

I use the Notes app on my iPhone for packing lists.

Itinerary and flight times, go in my calendar, also on my phone. This is good because I have family and friends that can access my calendar on their phones as well if they want.

All E-Mail correspondence and receipts are saved in a trip or destination-specific mailbox. For example, I'm going on a RS Greece trip next April, so there's a mailbox named "Greece" where I file all the Airline receipts, hotel reservations, other tickets, messages back and forth with the RS office or hotel, any communication about the trip.

I copy info from emails I might need when I don't have internet access into the notes app or a calendar event, like the hotel address. This is because the phone only caches some email, not all of it.

Posted by
7175 posts

"I use the Notes app on my iPhone for packing lists."

I find myself increasingly doing the same, for everything though, from thoughts and ideas to detailed daily schedules.

Posted by
2527 posts

Because of easy formatting more than any other reason, I use a spreadsheet for each trip much like Zoe, but exclude a daily budget and packing list as I already know those requirements. The spreadsheet travels with us for reference en route and shared with family in case of emergency...either way.

Posted by
69 posts

In the past I have used tables in Word, but was hoping to have something that I don't carry with me in a printed out version. So for my next trip I am trying out TripIt, a travel app which stores most things you have listed except for the budget items. I have found it a little cumbersome in the desktop version, but when I look at it on my phone it is exactly what I wanted: all my plans organized by day in one place, easy to read, with no chance of losing them. (If, God forbid, my phone were lost, I could always access TripIt online.) I won't lie, it was hard to adjust to a new and sometimes cumbersome way if inputting the data, but I like the results so far. I am not familiar enough with the app to know if/how I could add budget and other items.

For packing list, I also love the RD spreadsheet (ridiculously detailed). Because really, it's anticipation of the vacation that is so delicious.

Posted by
3387 posts

I don't use a spreadsheet, I use a calendar. I print out a generic calendar and type in places, flight confirmation numbers and times, with hotel confirmations and addresses. I plan out the budget on "notes" in my phone though to make sure I keep track of the money. I have an estimated cost column and actual cost column to make sure we're keeping at least to an average of our projected costs. Every once in a while I take out my phone and type in what we have spent. I'm clearly not as detailed as some other people but it works for me!

Posted by
2264 posts

I make preliminary budget estimates on a spreadsheet, including a separate tab with a weekly calendar that I can move things around on until the itinerary is set. Then I use TripIt on my PC/phone. You can forward nearly any reservation via email and it plops it right in (accurately about 95% of the time...depends on the structure of the email). For each day I create a note with the list of daily options for activities, restaurants, events, or any special instructions (e.g. where to find bus shuttle at airport). Before I leave, I download it all to my phone to ensure off-line access. You can also print it out to leave at home (or in my case, print a PDF and put it in Dropbox just in case). I agree with prior poster that TripIt can be a bit cumbersome to get stuff in the order you want - because it sorts by time/date, not by subject. My work around is to set a specific time stamp for each category (restaurants 00:01, activities 00:02, etc.) and voila you've got logic!

All supporting documentation (e-tickets, maps, guidebooks, other info) is stored in Dropbox and sorted by folder for each main destination and also downloaded on to phone before departure to ensure access. My master packing list is a Word document that is updated after every trip (add/remove items) and then customized for each new adventure. It is a checklist organized by category: clothes, luggage, toiletries, laundry, tools/gadgets, paperwork, travel documents, and pre-departure to-do list.

As for Michael's comment, I too travel to get away from spreadsheets (and organizing, the main part of my job), but I feel so much better having things organized so that I don't spend my precious vacation time looking for bits and pieces. But that's just me (and apparently, a lot like some of you! I'm reassured!)

Posted by
14464 posts

I don't use a spreadsheet, would not know how. I make a calendar of the days I'll be away, be 20 days to 70 days, which is stapled with accommodation info on it day by day so that I can keep track where I am, more or less. This calendar stays in my pocket. The train info is written on 3x5 note cards, organized in date order, clipped, kept also in my pocket, the hotel reservation print outs are organized in date order so that it's handy should I have to present it at check-in, 99% I don't need to. No problem in controlling my spending.

Posted by
4637 posts

No spreadsheet whatsoever. I don't want to feel like I am not on vacation but still on the business. I only book few things ahead, like first nights and few trains which give significant discount when booked ahead. I noticed that you get (obviously) so much more information about the place locally so I want to be somewhat flexible. It worked to our satisfaction every time.

Posted by
15544 posts

Zoe, thanks for this. There are some great ideas here.

I put everything I can on digital. I do the great majority of my planning and research using the computer. Even when I get ideas from guide books, I check websites for up-to-date info. My "bible" is my spreadsheet with multiple tabs. I learned early on that it's easier to make lists on Excel than trying to manage tables on a word doc. First tab is my calendar, each day colored by city, so it's easy to see how much time I have at each destination (visual orientation). By the time I leave, I have put in all reservations (flights, trains, concerts, timed entries, etc.), sunrise/sunset for each destination, and any time-sensitive reminders. Hotel details, including prices and room details on a separate tab. Sights tab - a list of all the sights that I would like to visit with all the details. For instance for Paris, I was able to sort the list by arrondissement and color-code the sights that were included in the museum pass. Or I can color-code sights that are open on, say, Monday when most museums are closed. The all-important packing list tab. Yes, Zoe, like you, I have the list organized by what goes in which bag, and also what I'm going to wear.

I put tons of information and plans on word docs. I use cut/paste and screenshots (snipping tool) for walking tours, maps, descriptions of sights, even directions for getting from airport/train station to hotel. I also download pdfs. Then I can pull any of it up on my iPod Touch whenever I want (use Dropbox to load them). During the trip, I keep track of what I spend, item by item and put them on a tab on my spreadsheet (I travel with a notebook computer). I don't do detailed budgeting but I find that having this info helps me keep my spending in line with my overall budget, including whether I can "afford" a splurge or need to rein in my frivolous purchases.

When I get back from a trip, the spreadsheet is a wealth of information. I can write my travel diary using the information (especially what I spent where on which day) and my photos to jog my memory. I know about how much I spend per day in different countries or cities (Paris - ouch!) for planning next year's trips. I have packing lists already prepared that I can copy for different climates, different seasons. The list of sights is useful for return visits.

Lastly, with all the information stored digitally, I can get details from past adventures easily and quickly for planning my next trip and for helping my friends plan theirs.

P.S. When I was working long hours at a computer, I always saw it as a useful tool for my personal life too. Beaing 50 miles from home in jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers was all I needed to feel like I was on vacation. Now that I'm retired, it's a lot harder to get that vacation feeling :-)

Posted by
605 posts

My spreadsheets are used primarily during the planning phase to organize useful information. I have a worksheet for drive times between potential destinations and another for budgeting. Then I will have a handful of worksheets with different itinerary's on each to compare and contrast.

Once on the ground, I don't use the spreadsheet at all. I update the budget worksheet when I return home.

Matt

Posted by
19306 posts

My spreadsheet is much like Zoe's, but I don't budget for things like meals, just do as the spirit moves me. So hotel and train ticket/car rental/transport pass prices are in as well as museum pass and special event prices.

Posted by
11613 posts

Thanks for all the tips! Frankly, I thought about taking down the topic a few hours after I posted it because I thought no one would be interested, but there were already over a dozen posts!

Confession: I also take a small spiral-bound notebook, one page per day, which holds actual information (I don't update the spreadsheet once I start traveling). The back of each page is where I list photos taken. My trips are 88-89 days each, so I need reminders.

Posted by
1976 posts

I hadn't used a spreadsheet until my most recent trip a few weeks ago. Part of my trip included my sister and I spending a week in London. She created a Google Docs spreadsheet with all of the activities she wanted to do, listed under "Really Want" "Maybe Want", and "If There's Time." Then I created a daily schedule with the most important activities (i.e. afternoon tea, Tate Modern, etc.) we both selected.

Normally I make handwritten lists of everything I want to see, with the priority sights circled. Because there's such ease of Internet access today with regard to smartphones, I don't even list the sight's hours or address, just the general area.

I like paper and tangible things, so I bring a folder with everything I need: printouts of hotel confirmations, train tickets, etc. I also save subway tickets, museum tickets, and other things because I think they're cool souvenirs.

Like other posters, I bring calendar pages for the days I'm away and use them to list things like "Arrive in Hamburg at 4:13 today" or "Boat tour at 5:30", just to keep me on track.

Posted by
12157 posts

One spreadsheet is lodging. I don't book ahead but I build a spreadsheet ahead of time with five or more lodging options for all the likely stops along my route. The spread sheet has city/town name, hotel name, hotel phone number, hotel address, price (from either RS or Tripadvisor), rating, and another column for notes (amenities, breakfast included, etc.). I don't book before the trip but I'll call in the morning to book for the next stop.

The other spreadsheet is sights. I rate all potential sights from one (must see, good to see if I have time), show sight name, address, contact number, ticket information, and hours/days.

I also have a pack list. It's just a list of items to pack and doesn't travel with me. I update it when I return from a trip while any needed changes are still fresh in my mind.

Posted by
503 posts

Oh Sarah, I am exactly like you! I love to write things down and have it in front of me. I am not a very savvy person when it comes to electronics nor am I the type of person who needs all the details that some posters have mentioned. But my gosh, kudos to all of you who make spreadsheets, documents etc. I am amazed! I usually take a blank calendar for the days I'll be gone. Print any pertinent info such as flight info, hotel conf. #, car rental confirmation, or train tickets as the case may be. I also include torn out pages of rick's guide books or other info I've gathered. This is all divided by city and clipped together. As the trip progresses I throw these away so the folder gets lighter as the trip goes on. In the evening, I'll look over events or places for the next day's activities. I have never really researched restaurants prior to a trip. we usually just look for something wherever we happen to be when hunger strikes. Question for you guys...What is the difference between the "dropbox" and "tripit"? I'm a little confused. Do they provide the same function but different formats?

Posted by
15544 posts

Dropbox is like Cloud. You use it to store your stuff and can access it on any device any time you have an internet connection to load it onto that device for anytime access. A minimum amount of storage is free, then you get occasional offers for upgrades. I tried using Cloud and found that it was automatically uploading documents that I didn't want to put in Cloud. I never figured it out, but I stopped using it. I find Dropbox is easy to work with and control. About the only thing I always keep there is my camera user manual. Everything else I delete from trip to trip and I've never come close to the maximum free storage.

I don't know what Tripit is.

Posted by
635 posts

I use an Outlook calendar for work, so I just set up a separate Outlook calendar for vacation schedules. It can be printed out in various handy formats, and is available on all my mobile devices. Here's a sample page from last spring's trip.

Posted by
9091 posts

Be aware that Outlook (the desktop version) is compatible with Itunes (both PC and Mac versions,just check a box in the settings). So when you sync your Apple devices with your desktop, all calendar entries will be seamlessly imported into Apple's built-in calendar app.

Posted by
334 posts

My wife and I are both planners, so we get very involved in our travel charts. Across the page, each column is a date. The rows down the page represent hours in the day. We then fill in each of the boxes with a different color based on what we're doing. Blue represents time we've allocated to seeing a particular location. Orange represents time that we're traveling (bus, plane, ferry, train). And green represents guided tours or guided day trips where we are restricted to precise times. Finally, we include an estimate of sunrise/sunset (our blue/orange/green is darker at night, lighter during the day).

We're both visual people and we've found that when we color a chart like this, it immediately highlights problems with our itinerary. When we look at times in numeric form, it's not as obvious to us if we are cutting something too close or trying to do too much in a single day. Once we have this colorful display, it becomes very easy to see those areas where you're too optimistic about the time you have allocated. It often goes through several versions before we're done, but it's been invaluable in the early planning stages.

Just to keep our information all in one place, we will include transportation and hotel information in the same document but outside the chart. We do not track daily budget and costs, sights for the day, cash on hand, etc.

We keep the information in Google Drive so that we can easily access it from our phones or tablets. We also like to create Google Maps showing our trip, but that's more for fun, not so much for planning.

Posted by
444 posts

Oddly enough, my anxieties.

Before my first international trip this year, I wrote down every single thing that could make me anxious: missed flights, being sick, missing the train, cannibalism on Icelandair, a sudden catastrophe that destroys all the beer in the UK . . . then I wrote down what I could do to alleviate those anxieties. It worked! Just facing those anxieties and having them right there in front of me made all the difference.

It was cheaper than Xanax at any rate . . .

Posted by
19025 posts

I don't use A spreadsheet; I use many.

I start my trip planning by creating a workbook (it's not a spreadsheet, it's a collection of spreadsheet pages accessed by tabs); it's a single file.

The first page is my itinerary, with columns for the sequential days (1, 2, 3, etc), starting town, activity (what to see if I stay in the town or what to stop and see on the way, and the ending town. Once I pick an arrival date (day 1), I add columns for the date and the day-of-the-week. Then I add pages for each travel day and for each town I will stay in or visit, with hyperlinks on the itinerary page to these pages, i.e. the text, "day" 1, on the itinerary is a link to the day 1 spreadsheet.

Each day's page has the rail or bus schedule that I plan to take, alternate schedules in case I spend more time than anticipated, including the last possible connection, and fares.

Each town's page has a list of possible accommodations, with website and email links, garnered from the town's website. After I've booked accommodations, I add a map, extracted from Google Maps, of how to get to it, and include any other pertinent information.

Expenses are a second file or workbook. The first spreadsheet is a chronological log of all my expenses, by day. I have on column for travel mandated expenses and one for optional expenses, like souvenirs, newspapers, etc. On the next page, or spreadsheet, I have reproduced an expense sheet similar to the ones I used to have to fill out when I traveled on business, with columns for lunch, dinner, beverages, tips, total meal expenses, accommodation expenses, transportation expenses, admissions, and miscellaneous. When I get home I can see where I spent every euro.

On the next page I have an identical spreadsheet with all of my anticipated expenses already filled in and totaled by day and for the trip. All my rooms are reserved and the cost known, and all my transportation and admission expenses are known. And I know from experience approximately what my meal expenses will be. As I pay an expense, I take it off the sheet. I know how much the trip is going to cost, and at any time I can see very closely how much I will need to finish the trip. When I go to the ATM for the last time, I know how much to get so that I will come back home with about 200 euro to start my next trip.

Posted by
2091 posts

I love reading about everyone's spread sheets or non-spread sheets because it tells so much about the various personalities! I love lists as do all my kids so I think it's in the genes. I have a two-sided packing list for my 20" bag and my Appenzell, a daily itinerary with a column noting the date and the town we're sleeping in that night and an 8x11 calendar (single page) where I also note the activities and hotel names and whether they're prepaid. The itinerary also includes confirmation numbers and balance due for tours or hotels etc.
Pam from Troy will tell you I'm OCD but I just love to plan. Maybe all planners are OCD!

Posted by
7175 posts

Gosh, I think it sounds as if too much time may be spent updating spreadsheets while people are travelling. Forget the colour coding, shaded boxes, drop downs, extra tabs, etc etc, and look out the window - perhaps not if you are driving.

MORE BED SHEETS and LESS SPREADSHEETS !!

Posted by
1806 posts

Agree with David. I spend the majority of my year having to create spreadsheets and budgets at work. Multiple tabs? color coding? highly detailed hour-by-hour Outlook accountings for each and every single day? No, thank you - that sounds exactly like being at the office - all that is missing is a PowerPoint presentation detailing the contents of my carry-on and quart-sized ziploc to be presented to the TSA screeners.

Pre-trip I may see something online about my destination - a museum or live performance that sounds interesting, a restaurant that might feature a dish I would really like to try. I just send myself an email with the link and if I can fit it in with the other things I want to do, great. About the most OCD I might get is if there is a particular museum that I know I absolutely want to visit during a trip, then I go online in advance to check opening days/hours. I don't put that on a spreadsheet, though. I just make a mental note to make sure I fit it in on a day it is definitely open, or aim to visit during an evening when it has extended hours.

Posted by
5697 posts

My spreadsheets are only for planning -- nothing updated once we're on the trip. I admit I DO use color-coding, but only to highlight holidays (that's why I use spreadsheet format -- easier to shift everything up or down a day to avoid travelling on a holiday, or when there's a specific museum that's closed on the day originally on the schedule.)

Posted by
419 posts

I use Evernote. For each country, city, or region I have like Rome Accommadation; Rome Sites; Rome transportation. I also have a separate file for: packing, itinerary, master hotel list, master transportation list.

Posted by
11613 posts

I also only use the spreadsheet for planning, it is a major part of the fun of anticipation. I look at it while traveling for reminders of schedules/hours but I never update it once I am on the plane. Keeping track of the euro and notes on restaurants, etc. go into a little notebook.

Posted by
334 posts

It might sound counterintuitive to some, but the color coding, and overall planning lets me look out the window more, not less. One common thing among those of us who are "planners" is that doing this gives us peace of mind and allows us to relax and enjoy our trip much more. Some do update while traveling if they are tracking costs, but many of us don't update it at all as it is only a planning tool. Even if you did update with daily costs, it shouldn't take more than a few minutes each night before bed.

Posted by
13675 posts

Yes, Mike W !!! that is a great description of how I feel about my spreadsheet. It helps me keep on track and since I am usually a solo traveler it helps me feel organized. (Did I pay this hotel ahead or not?) I don't update as I go but I do refer to it and my notes on it and as mentioned above can access the googledocs app from my iPad or iPhone if I've misplaced my paper copy.

(And yes, both Darcy and I are a little OCD on planning!)

Posted by
1487 posts

I'm kind of like Zoe. I make a spreadsheet for our hotels with the dates, names, addresses, phone #. Before we leave we email these to our sons so they'll know where we are, if they're interested :). I also make an itinerary spreadsheet with the dates, towns, sights, hours/days open, and any important info. I don't update while travelling, just use it as a reminder of things we want to do. Of course, the itinerary is tentative and we often drop some sights and sometimes add others. I find it's helpful to have a tentative itinerary before we leave so we don't waste time discussing and deciding what to do once we're there. We do keep written packing lists because we travel with a 20" suitcase (each) and have to pack carefully. We could never remember how many shirts/pants/shorts/sweaters, depending on the season, we wore or what we used and didn't use and what we wished we had brought so I started making a list and then, if I remember, making notes after we return to help on our next trip. I agree with those who said that planning is part of the fun of travel and making lists of places we plan to visit and see is part of the fun!

Posted by
69 posts

Lisa, as for your question as to what TripIt is:
TripIt creates a master itinerary for you, all you have to do is forward your flight, hotel, car rental, and other travel confirmation emails to plans@tripit.com. It puts them in an easy to ready, day by day format and you can add transportation, activities, etc. Plus, you can keep your passport and docs there, like Dropbox. You can also share this itinerary with other people so they can follow along with you and know where you are.

If you're a person who doesn't make lodging arrangements ahead of time it probably wouldn't be of much use, but I'm a person who books everything up front and for me it has been wonderful, and really easy. Plus I don't have to carry all those papers around. So far so good!

Posted by
1717 posts

Hello Zoe. When I depart from my home, travelling to Europe, I do not carry much paper that has information written or printed on it, for my travel plans. And I do not bring any kind of computer (smart phone, ...). When I am on a vacation trip, I am on vacation from computers. But if I decide to communicate to a person located in an other country, I will send E-mail, using a computer that is in my hotel, or a computer that is available to the public. I print my itinerary for the entire trip on both sides of one sheet of paper, including flight numbers and hotel reservation information, and train reservation information. At Europe, each day I write my sightseeing plans for the next day, on an index card (4 x 6 iches). And I write in my travel diary each day.

Posted by
80 posts

I feel like I have found a support group for planners! I use a spreadsheet in the planning stages of my trip. The columns are the different days, and the rows have specific information like where I am at, where I am sleeping, travel time by train, major sights that I want to see, etc. After my locations are pretty well set, I cut out the different days and tape them to a notebook. Each day has will have four blank pages following it. This is where I write my notes about what I would like to see, what I did, etc. I have another spreadsheet that I use for budgeting my trip with estimated costs for lodging, airfare, car rental, meals, etc. I have finances in both pounds and dollars. To me, the planning is the fun part of the trip. I am currently in the planning stages of my trip to London/Devon/Cornwall in July 2016. I also have a notebook next to me when I read through the travel forum. Whenever anyone has a review on a hotel or place to see, I write it down as a potential spot to visit. I love spreadsheets.

Posted by
7175 posts

I like Ron's modus operandi, but I do note that in discarding one regime he has created another. lol

Posted by
19025 posts

Why does everyone seem to have this fanatical aversion to using modern implements, like spreadsheets and computers, while on vacation? They are useful in business life, why not use them in your everyday life?

OK, I have to admit that my greatest enjoyment of vacation is avoiding using a car. I can't go anywhere in this country without a car. It's such a pleasure not to need one in Europe.

But what other business conventions could you avoid on vacation? You have to wear clothes every day for work. Wouldn't it be a vacation from that to go to a nudist area, like Cape d'Agde?

Posted by
11613 posts

Jocigillan, I'm all for the support group! What a great idea. It's interesting how so many of us use some kind of planning system, even the same general type, but arrange it so differently.

Posted by
15544 posts

Lee, no spreadsheet for me either because like some of the others, I don't really know how to do one anymore! We also do not own smartphones and so don't travel with our pay-as-you-go versions - savings of which help the piggy bank for Europe! :O) I do carry an itouch for picking up our mail and dropping notes to a few people at home, and my DH took his ipad last time (but doesn't carry it sightseeing).

I create an email document with all of our hotel info (dates, name, phone, email, etc), send one copy to the family member who is the contact while we're gone, and print another for me. Train tickets are also printed as well as a random page or two of tips on trains, public transit, etc,; it all goes into a folder with our trip insurance documents, etc. Attractions we want to see are highlighted on a map and in the travel guide.

I've a master packing and to-do list on the computer, and start a "gather box" about a month before the trip. As I think of something that needs to go along, it gets thrown in the box; checked on the list. Oh, and I try to do virtual walks from train stations to hotel so that we know what to expect along the way.

Posted by
19025 posts

Kathy, that's another thing; thanks for mentioning it. Cell phones! We use them at home constantly. Why not take a vacation from the phone?

Posted by
1264 posts

Being married to an accountant has it's advantages. I do a lot of the internet leg work. We then finalize my notes and She Who Must Be Obeyed prepares all the necessary document(s) using Numbers & Pages and then gives them to me. The layout is similar to what you have indicated your spread sheet layout Zoe. My wife also sends copies to our house sitter and corresponding relatives.

Posted by
334 posts

Since we're on the subject of electronics, I disconnect as much as possible from the rest of the world when on vacation. However, I do carry a phone with me and have it pre-loaded with CityMaps2Go and offline Google Maps. And I have my spreadsheets on the ready, just in case (never actually had to use them while traveling, but it's nice to know they are there).

Once we are in for the night, we allow ourselves to post a couple pictures of the day to Facebook and check personal (not work) email.

Posted by
142 posts

What an interesting thread! We are planning our first European adventure-next September. I love to research and plan, and I have notes everywhere. Being very computer challenged (I am retired, and spent my career as a critical care nurse, so spreadsheets were not in my vocabulary), I would appreciate a peek at your spreadsheet setup. I use an iPad, and I don't think I have a spreadsheet app.....my husband has a PC, and I know there is an excel program on it.....believe me when I say I am techno-challenged! :)
Thanks as always for sharing your expertise.....this will hopefully be the first of many international trips!

Posted by
2349 posts

You have to wear clothes every day for work. Wouldn't it be a vacation from that to go to a nudist area, like Cape d'Agde?

I knew it! Lee also color codes his spread sheets. The buff color is for the textile frei places he likes to go to!

Posted by
19025 posts

Except for a vacation from having to go everywhere by car, I don't eschew other modern technologies. True, I don't take a cell phone, but I don't have anyone over there to call, and I learned years ago that, with an eight hour time difference to Denver, there aren't many times that both of us want to talk, so I just use email.

I have experienced a few "textile frei" thermen in Germany, but I don't otherwise run around in the buff just because I have to wear clothes over here.