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How Do You Organize Your Pre-Planning Notes

I am having a difficult time trying to figure out the best way to organize all the information I am collecting for my trip next year. I first started with a 3-ring notebook then I navigated to creating a Word document. There is so much information that I've gathered from this wonderful forum as well as reading travel books. How do you organize your thoughts, ideas, and information for your future trips?

Note: I searched the forums and could not find a topic that was already started on this. Please provide the link if this has already been discussed. Many thanks :)

Posted by
2487 posts

I make a long Word document in which - city by city - I put in information which might be of use in addition to guide books . It's mostly information I get from the Internet, like the opening hours of a museum or a map of a nearby place for a possible daytrip, but most importantly timetables of regional buses which are always so difficult to find.
The »PrtScr« button is such a wonderful instrument!

Posted by
692 posts

I have been using Microsoft's OneNote. It allows you to save web pages and all sorts of documents in a "Notebook." It is sort of like a virtual version of three-ring notebook!

Posted by
630 posts

tonfromleiden, if you like "Prt Scr" then you would LOVE "Snipping Tool" - it's free to download. You can capture sections of the page instead of print screening the whole page.

Posted by
524 posts

If you go to the post I start on 6/1/15 (lulu)I asked this very same question and received dozens of replies. Several I used.

Posted by
524 posts

Thanks Pilgrim. The one big change I made from all the suggestions was how I organized. I used to organize by. Hotels, tickets, reservations, etc. I liked the suggestion to organize by city. I had each city's stuff binder clipped. I'm then put each packet in one clear folder that zipped shut....extremely lightweight. I made one for myself that had email conversations and restaurant tops, etc. I made one for DH to carry that had just the vital stuff.

I copied everything on both sides to lessen the amount of paper.

I scanned into pdf files by category, sent them to myself and saved them on my IPAD, too.

Posted by
524 posts

Oh...as far as organizing thought! I created a directory of each city. In each city I had files named Restaurants, hotels, transportation, directions,...etc. I might find info on the web, copy the text to a word document. Save it with a name like water taxi tips....then put it under transportation. Anytime I found another tip, I would just highlight the copy....and pictures and add it to the existing file at the bottom.

I had lots and lots of files. I found as I got closer to my trip and made decisions, I could go back to those files and delete things I know longer was interested in, or found better advice or wording.

Posted by
630 posts

Thanks, LuLu. I'm starting to create Word files by city and then just use bullet format - it's still a lot of info to maintain. Guess it's just another reason to visit Florence and Venice on another trip - I can't keep track of all the info for any more cities LOL

Once I get closer to my trip I will weed out the info and PDF the docs to myself. This is the system I am sticking with this week. I'm sure I'll be doing something different next week LOL

Posted by
1252 posts

I carry a tablet. I create one Word document and I save it in Dropbox. I can then access it from any computer, phone or other digital device. I can also share it with people I know.

I just created an itinerary organized by date and time. I then just insert any reservation no., contact info, notes, info, photo, links under the appropriate date and can move them around to make things fit my schedule as I continue to plan and gather information. I can cut and paste. I can always put in more and delete or ignore later. For example I can put in three nice restaurants for a particular night . I will have names addresses telephone number and a brief description. On that particular day I will choose one and telephone to make a reservation. If that restaurant is not available, I will then choose the other one.

I find that it is best to insert the new information into my itinerary as soon as I get it. This keeps my proposed itinerary up to date. It also saves time later. Otherwise it becomes a real nightmare trying to relocate and organize all the little bits of information that I can gather in the weeks or months before the trip.

Posted by
630 posts

FunPig, thanks for your response. Your one document must get really large. I'm thinking I may break it down by city to break up the document a bit.

Posted by
524 posts

I would even copy and paste advice from here and trip advisors to my files if it was something I liked. some of my files did get long, but I'm glad I did that.

Posted by
630 posts

Hey Lulu, I plan on doing just that - copy and paste comments or suggestions from forum responses. :)

Posted by
524 posts

Pilgrim, where are you going? I just loved the research stage...I planned for a year!

Posted by
630 posts

Hi Lulu, we are planning a trip to Italy the end of Oct 2016 - Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, and Rome. I am trying to enjoy the planning process, but it can get overwhelming - so many things to consider. One day I enjoy the research and the next day I can get overwhelmed where I tell my husband we aren't going - LOL. He just yeses me since he knows I'll be changing my mind in a few days. Ha ha

Posted by
524 posts

You will have a marvelous time. I understand how overwhelmed you are...sometimes you need to take a break, then you will find your energy again. Just make sure you get your hotel and air nailed down, although you will be at the end of tourist season, so maybe not so bad.

I will do my Positano trip report tomorrow. We just want there and morning to Capri, so it was only partially where you'll be going.

How many nights will you be there?

Posted by
14165 posts

BTW, what I also do is have on my countdown To-Do list a cue to print all the pertinent documents or check that they have been printed. I do this a week or two out from travel. That way at the last minute all I have to print out is the final airline itinerary (if, as often happens flight times change by a couple of minutes). I don't risk trying to print with low printer cartridges or running out of paper, lol or being frazzled at the last minute trying to collate stuff.

Posted by
630 posts

Lulu, I'm still trying to work out how many days in each city. I'm thinking 5 days in AC, 1.5 days seeing Pompeii, Herculeum, Mount Vesuvius, and 4 days in Rome. I'm still tweaking it. We can't book our flights for another month as we are using United Reward Miles and the dates aren't available yet. I'll then concentrate on which hotels to reserve. I do think I'm going to put the planning process on hold until after Thanksgiving. We are hosting 26 people and I've already started the process of transforming my home into a function hall LOL. We need to move furniture to accommodate more tables, etc. It will be a nice break from the trip planning process and hopefully I will be rejuvenated after Thanksgiving. :)

I look forward to your post-trip report.

Posted by
980 posts

I put it all in google docs and my itinerary in google calendar, that way I don't have to carry anything if I don't want to and have handy access to it as long as I can get on the internet.

DJ

Posted by
1252 posts

'Pilgram

Yes, it was long but everything was in the one document itinerary. My 19 day trip had a 22 page itinerary. Each day started on a new page. I printed a hard copy and i could just take out the one page for the day if i wanted. On that page, i had times and locations of where i would like to be and little blurbs to remind me what to look for as well as links to internet sites etc for additional info that i can read up on the night before. I put the hard copy in a folder, the itinerary on the right side and all hard copy vouchers, tickets, maps, email confirmations, etc on the left side. The hard copies were my back up. I scanned each documment which was put on the left side and date-named them so that they would all be in chronological order and easy to find in my tablet (eg "May032015-VeniceHotelConfirmation", "May042015-DogesTourVoucher" etc). I found that my tablet with the itinerary and all the scanned documents usually worked. If i lost my tablet, i could easily go to dropbox using another mobile device or computer.

Posted by
32245 posts

Pilgrim,

I suppose I'm the exception here as I use a very "low tech" approach to planning trips, at least in the beginning stages. I start planning for each trip with nothing more than a sharp pencil and a large notepad. I jot down destinations on one page, Itinerary on another and miscellaneous items on a third page. Having a good eraser at hand makes it easy to make changes. Information collected for future trips is kept in a holiday file folder so everything is in one place and easy to find.

When I eventually get the details of a trip more-or-less finalized, those are entered into the "official" Itinerary which is formatted on a Word document. Transportation, costs and travel inventory details are entered into separate Excel documents. I pack along the documents in two clear plastic sleeves, which are kept in my Daypack. They're not large or heavy so really not a problem to haul around. The documents are also backed-up on a USB memory stick which is stored in my Money Belt, so if the original copies are lost I can easily retrieve them using either my Netbook or a hotel computer.

It's a lot of effort and quite time consuming but that's part of the fun of planning trips, and that provides me with very detailed information to work with when I'm in Europe. Trip planning is always "a work in progress" so I tweak it a bit each year.

Posted by
15648 posts

Nearly everything is electronic with me. I organize on the computer using one folder for the trip, then subfolders for each destination. I organize my bookmarks/favorites the same way. Every time I come across a webpage that is relevant - including threads here on the forums - I add it to the relevant favorites subfolder. When I find a useful pdf, it's downloaded to the subfolder. Later on, I can cull through the material and delete as needed. The Snipping Tool is so useful. I use it to create word docs, even simple ones like how to get from the airport to the hotel. I use it to copy from online articles (especially wiki) to word docs. I working with lists and tables is much easier on excel than word. I have one workbook, with multiple tabs (calendar, hotel info, sights info, packing list).

I start a word doc for each destination. Along with information I gather, I also put in my notes and thoughts. As I travel, I try to keep a journal (often I end up doing it at home later) and a detailed list of my spending. Keeping track of spending helps me stay within a budget (and know when I can splurge), and it's even more useful for planning future trips.

I use some guidebooks in planning too. I will take 1 or 2 with me, but if I only want a few pages from it, I scan them and add to the subfolders.

I travel with a notebook computer. I transfer all my files and favorites before I leave. I also back up my photos daily to it. I also have an iPod Touch (basically an iPhone without the phone) with all my files on it. I use Dropbox to back-up and transfer the files to the Touch.

The only things I print out to take with me are self-guided walking tours and maps, tickets (train, plane, sights).

Posted by
630 posts

Thank you for all the replies. Lots of suggestions that I had never thought about.