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How do you take all your paperwork?

I have accumulated just tons of stuff: Overview of Itenarary, airline confimrations, train confirmations, tour confirmations..tips I've written down with restaurant recommendations, emails from personal taxi driver (confirming rates), maps I've printed off for a specific reason. I normally would just take this in a multi pocket folder, but I read something that someone else does and I think I might try it.

They organize everything into sections ( which I already do, too)...then takes it to Kinkos and spiral bound with a cover. I think it would make sense to do two: i carry one, if something happens, my DH has one. It's all there, no loose papers to fall out, etc. Of course you can have two copies of something in there if you need to rip one page out (like a reservation with confirmation number to a museum) and you don't want to take the whole book. It just sounds so organized and I like that!

What all do you do?

Posted by
7325 posts

I used to take a pocket folder, and still take a pile of papers for critical things for backup, but most things (Lists of restaurants, hotels, info on sites,) can be stored electronically either on your phone or a tablet. Same for documents, just save them as a PDF by either scanning or from an email and store in a folder.

Posted by
13675 posts

I divide paperwork in to trip sections using a small binder clip for each portion of my trip. I use a plastic envelope from Staples with a zip top, plus a letter sized plastic envelope for my purse for my current travel section. I do throw away stuff as I go unless it has identifying information on it and then I just stash it in the bottom of my suitcase.

While the bound book has a certain appeal to my organized side, I think it would be too cumbersome when you need to present a pre-printed train ticket or museum reservation. I tried plastic ring binders with sheet protectors and liked that a lot BUT it was heavy. I do use sheet protectors for something like a Eurostar ticket or an EasyJet ticket I have printed out at home. I also tried the lighter weight plastic folders with the plastic slide but that did not hold well.

I know this can be done electronically, but I am not there yet!

Posted by
3171 posts

I agree with Pam and organize much like she does. Although I can access files on my iPod, I find it is a pain, and so do some of the receivers from what I can tell. I like having the paper version so I guess I am old school as well, with tech savvy backup. I think I'll try the sheet protectors Pam uses. I divide mine by city and use the plastic envelope, and a small envelope for receipts.

Posted by
524 posts

I like the idea of dividing by city, so maybe that spiral bound method won't work as well....it just seemed so nice to have everything together. Although I suppose you can still divide that by City and then just tear and throw away pages that aren't needed any longer. So many good ways to do this. i also like paper copies and then technology for backup. I've been sending DH confirmations through emails to store in him phone!

Posted by
6991 posts

Since I travel to Europe without any electronics (that's right-no technology) I have everything on paper and arranged by city as Pam does. I toss everything when I'm done with it so it gets smaller/lighter as I go.

Posted by
3670 posts

I use a three-ring notebook. I use a three-ring hole punch to punch the pages I print off of my computer. In the front of the notebook is my printed-out itinerary. Notebook is divided into sections by dividers with tabs. Each section starts out with a map of a certain area, printed off the Google maps. Each section with its map, pertains to an area I will visit, and in that section also are printed confirmation of hotels.

Plastic sleeve pages hold tickets and anything else that should not be three-hole-punched.

Notes about good restaurants are included in the section about the town where they are located. A close-up of the Google map shows the exact street or corner where they are located. Phone number is written on the map or notes in case I need to make a reservation or need help finding it.

I do not throw away pages as I go. I find I may use them again on my next trip, as I sometimes like to go back to the same town or restaurant again.

I also make notes as I go on new things I am discovering. If I am riding a bus in London, and see an interesting cafe or shop, I will get off at the next bus stop, and walk back several blocks to go to it. I make a note of that in the notebook, the name of the cafe or shop, and its street address. Would I ever find it again if I didn't do this, and trusted it to memory? Probably not.

Posted by
13675 posts

Laughing, because Rebecca is right that if you see a restaurant or store sometimes you will never find it again! It's like they disappear thru a stargate or something!

I forgot something until I read the other posts. Yesterday someone was asking about taxis in Paris. When I compile my travel documents, I also print out the names and full addresses of my hotels where I know I am going to take a taxi (airport to hotel, train station to hotel) and tape them to a large sticky note or index card. I clip those together at the top of the stack for that section of my trip so they are handy to just give to the cab driver. I even do this in London because sometimes you will get a driver who doesn't understand your accent or pretends they do not.

Having your first hotel address handy also makes it easier to fill out the landing card for the Immigration officials.

Posted by
524 posts

First, I wish when writing replies we could see previous responder names so I could use them!

Great tips.

  1. Is the 3 ring binder very heavy? I use 3 ring binders all the time at work, but they are 2-3 inches and quite heavy when filled. I'm assuming you use a 1/2" binder? I do like that there are pockets inside those. The nice thing about a binder or separate city envelopes is that you can keep adding things...with the spiral bound book...you are sort of stuck after it's complete and will have to take loose papers.

  2. I love the idea of printing out the hotel address on a card. Since we've not traveled to Europe before, I don't know about the first hotel's address. I'm guessing you have to supply the information as to where you are staying?

Posted by
564 posts

As I make progress to become more paperless I find myself stuck between Paul's and Pam's methods. There are days or nights when my eyes are not happy reading files off my tiny phone screen. Progressively I'm using more Index cards and organize by color. I pull out what I need or want that day, along with whatever ripped guide book pages I want. emphasized textI never thought I could rip out pages from any book. After 2 trips I'm now a convert of this method.

I type a full itinerary and keep one copy in my suitcase. Another copy stays home with family/friend along with a copy of my Passport..
I like maps, too. These 2 items are the beginning of a good travel report.

It's easier to read my index card than it is to read my phone. I also don't carry my phone out publicly as much or have it on as much as I first did when I started taking one with me. I like the sleeve protectors for rainy days. They fold down easily into my purse. I also can toss in a pamphlet or brochure I may get while sightseeing which I want to read or reference from. I also use ziploc baggies.

On my last RS tour I made a travel binder and used a Cambridge leather 7.5" x 10.5", 3 ring binder. It kept everything together and was easy to use on the bus. I could deload stuff from my shoulder bag to my binder like receipts, pamphlets, postcards, etc. It did get a bit weighty but I realized I took too many guide book pages with me. So it's still all a work in progress.

Posted by
13675 posts

The 3-ring binder I used had soft plastic covers, so was not the hard plastic covered cardboard. I am sort of ashamed to admit this but I picked up all the binders that looked interesting in Staples and took them to the mailing counter. It wasn't busy and I asked the salesperson to weigh them on their postage scale. Yup, made the decision based on that. He, I am quite sure, thought I was nuts. I also did it with the plastic envelopes when I bought them.

Really, you think an ounce or 2 is not going to make a difference but it can!

Diane, yes, I feel like I have a foot on shore and a foot on a boat with thinking about electronics only! And I agree. I never thought I could rip out pages of a guidebook but it saves so much weight. The first time is the hardest!

And yes, Lulu, you have to give your "address" when you go thru Immigration, so the first hotel works just fine.

Posted by
564 posts

Nancy, do you use a camera or buy a local phone when you get there?

Posted by
14464 posts

Hi,

I use a composition book, 9 3/4" x 7 1/2" to record the important information I need as well as 3x5" notecards, and a small pocket notebook to record details from each trip so that each trip has its own pocket notebook and its own set of 3x5" cards....no electronic gear used at all. Also, additional information I write on a hand drawn calendar indicating the course of the trip from dep day to the return flight day. This I keep on me so that I can keep track of the days and the course of the trip.

Posted by
4230 posts

I do it old school too and put printouts into holders, like you used to have in high school. I think the brand name most people know is Peach-e.

However, this time around, I also uploaded important documents as well as credit card, global entry and passport numbers into Google Drive so I could access them if need be from any computer anywhere.

Posted by
4132 posts

I have most of my information (like emails of correspondence with lodgings) on my Moto X these days, but I do travel with some paper. I organize by day for the most part, although I may have some categories that are each organized that way. It depends on the trip and situation.

I used to use plastic sleeves, folders or small accordion files, but I've gotten the paper down to maybe a half-inch. I do toss as I go, making sure to flush (if possible) the critical data torn into tiny little bits of paper. However, I also collect as I go -- things like the notes others have mentioned, business cards from restaurants, and especially receipts from credit card purchases or ATM transactions. I do like to keep track of what we spend, so that I can add up what the total trip cost was at the end.

To keep things somewhat organized without a bunch of separate envelopes running around my carry-on, I use an Eagle Creek 041152 packing cube like this one in the strobe green. The cube itself is plenty big for all my paper on the way over and on the way back. It is practically weightless and the color makes it easy to find in my luggage and hard to leave behind in the room.

Part of my preparation for the trip is to make a spreadsheet with each day that includes the following columns: Night (as in night #1 of the trip), Day (as in day of the week), Date, Where (as in the city, usually indicated by airport code, but not always), What (general information on hotels, travel details), Lodging EUR, Lodging USD, Transportation EUR, Transportation USD, See/Do EUR, See/Do USD (all those are mostly for planning purposes, although the columns with the right formulas can be used to put in the actual expenditures when I get home), See/Do What Notes (details of ticket numbers, hotel reservations, what's been pre-paid, what I'll need to pay in cash, what there is to see or do, how long that is likely to take and how much it is likely to cost -- you get the idea). In essence, my spreadsheet is a summary of the whole trip. It's not always perfect and subject to change on the fly, but it is a good guide for me.

For security reasons, bulk reasons and because I read that we should not copy all our cards, front and back, I do a spreadsheet that includes all our important numbers. That actually cuts all the info down to one page and includes columns like Name, Number, Issue Date, Expiration Date, Business Hours USA (phone numbers), Urgent 24/7 (phone numbers). The rows include things like our passports, credit and debit cards we take, AZ driver licenses, IDPs, medicare supplement cards, etc. This is only for the critical cards we actually take with us.

And I do a table that I send to our kids, some friends and put in an obvious location in our carry-ons. It includes emergency information like our names, home address, mobile phone numbers and the following columns: Dates (when we go from one location to another), Enroute (the names of those from-to locations, usually but not always using airport symbols) and Where we will be (with detailed information on the lodgings including name, phone number, contact person, address, and a link to the place).

I realize this is a lot of upfront planning, but I like to be able to get as much as possible on 1-2 sheets of paper, then use hard copies to show for check-in at the lodgings, if needed. Now that I have the spreadsheets and tables set up, I can copy and paste and change them for each trip.

Posted by
3923 posts

We've been using one clear or see through colored plastic pouch for all of our paper travel documents for many years. I start one about 9 months before our summer trip once we've booked the tickets in the preceding fall. It stays on the coffee table where we can put the printed out things we'd like to take as a paper copy. Since we mainly house exchange we don't have a lot of hotel reservations but we do have paper copies of train reservations, theater tickets, admissions, other in Europe flights, and some hotels etc printed out and thrown into the plastic folder as we go. I put my plastic laminated Streetwise maps in the folder also. If I have addresses, phone numbers, lists of parks or restaurants specific to where we'll be, I write them down on one of the papers that we'll use for that city. The week before we travel, I'll go through the papers again and organize them by date needed and consolidate information or throw out things we don't really need to take. Right now (T-60 days) the folder is about 1/2 inch thick and doesn't weigh much. We've started to purchase more travel ebooks that we read on our iPads or iPhones as we go. Of course all of our reservations are also available on our devices in an email but I don't like trying to function from a small iPhone screen when on the go. We've been putting more documents in on our iPhones as a pdf file in Passbook so we can have access to them if there is no wifi available to access the document in our email. If we take any paper guidebooks with us they travel in our luggage going over. I don't tear them apart and put the pages in my purse until we are ready to use them in Europe. As I write this out it sounds chaotic but it works for us.

Posted by
2767 posts

Honestly, I do 99% of it electronically. I make a PDF of the trip logistics (all flight numbers and info, hotel name, addresses, phone, and confirmation numbers, info on trains or other transit pre-reserved, and a basic itinerary along the lines of what day is in what city and what day is traveling to a new city).

Then I have another PDF for each major stop, with more local info - anything about restaurants, museums, tours, whatever I want to remember about that place. As well as a more detailed itinerary for that city, if I'm planning that way.

Finally, maps in PDF format as well.

PDFs are stored on the Kindle, and readable on the iphone kindle app. Also available on the cloud and in my email, so there is no danger of loosing it - I just open it in my email and can print it if needed. Can read it anywhere.

I also make custom maps in the app City Maps 2 Go - I mark historic sights, museums, churches, restaurants, my hotel, shoeps, whatever else I want to remember. Then I can open the app - offline - and see where I am and what is nearby.

Some things need to be printed (pre-ordered tickets to a museum, for example). I just print them and put them in an envelope in order - so if I'm in Seville first, the Seville Alcazar ticket is first, then tickets for the Prado in Madrid, if that's the next stop. No big system here, except that if the site e-mails me the ticket I will save it electronically as well as print it.

Posted by
524 posts

Wow...I thought I was organized. You all are putting me to shame, but giving me some great ideas. I think I will use the plastic 3 ring binder idea and organize by city, rather than subject.

Will definitely make notecards of hotel addresses with phone numbers to show to taxi drivers.

I do have a spreadsheet, but not as inclusive as I should. I need to make one up to be able to just look at everything on 2 sheets.

I think you all could be cruise directors.

Posted by
2091 posts

I also use the sheet protectors, but I put everything for one location into one protector (mine can hold about 10 sheets of paper and just have an opening at the top). The first page in each packet is always directions, schedules, etc. from the previous city to the next city & hotel. Like Pam, I include a card with the hotel name/address/phone, which I can hand to a taxi driver or someone on the street if I'm lost.

I slide all the sheet protectors into a gallon-size ziplock bag. The bag won't close, but it keeps them from sliding around. I stuff the bag in the large outer pocket of my suitcase. When we are preparing to leave one place and go to the next, I discard almost everything for that city (as most of it is on my computer), pull out the next sheet protector with its contents and put it in my purse.

I carry a small (3 1/2" x 5 1/2") Eccolo journal in my purse, which is where I make my notes.

I do travel with an iPhone, but don't have enough confidence yet to give up all my paper!

Posted by
224 posts

This is all very helpful, I have been starring at my boss's legal size red rope folder for two days trying to decide a better way to organize his travel, he has for probably the past 20+ years just put his travel in a legal red rope file full of file folders, its so bulky and awkward to me. I'm going to try the three ring binder idea with the sheets for him and also ordered a three ring zipper pouch so he can add loose papers like receipts and brochures that he picks up. Thank you all for the tips!!!!

For myself, I put everything in a file folder that is paper clipped closed (one for each city) and then also electronic. I throw away the folders after each city and only keep the electronic copies (I take photos of restaurants and historical signs, etc. so we can remember for next trip, travel journal or later reviews).

Posted by
6929 posts

Great topic & intersting to see what others do to be organized!

When I make flight or hotel reservations or on-line train tickets, i print two copies of each reservation. A few months before the trip, I print out two copies of Google maps of each hotel location & how to get there from the train station & what the hotel looks like. I use a large binder clip to keep the papers together: If you want details, the 1st page is an Excel spreadsheet with these columns - Days-of-Week, Location, Hotel Name & Address, Pd (Paid ahead or need to pay at hotel?), Total Price, Transportation to next location (train or bus), Amount of time (to travel to next location), & the last column is Activities. Activities are anything that's only open on certain days, or places we have reservations, or definite plans. The 2nd page is the Google map to get to the first destination, 3rd page is the hotel reservation, 4th page might be the train ticket for the next location, & repeat.

I tear out pages in my booklet as we go, so I always have the next reservation on top. But, I have the 2nd copy in my husband's bag for back-up emergency & also so we have a nice record later of places we stayed, etc.

If we're heading to Paris, for instance, I use a small city map (I like the one in RS's Pocket Paris book) and mark places we want to go, or where we can find a Monoprix or best gelato. Also, i write the hotel address on the border of the map. (I've reused the same map when I've returned.)

For all of the planning months ahead, I print out a lot of paper. Info from Forums like this one, location info on website pages, etc. get printed and I sort them by location. When we're within a month of leaving, I can quickly narrow down those papers to a few essentials of restaurant addresses, interesting history to read right before we arrive, good hiking trails, places to see, etc. I staple each location into a small few-page booklet. Also, if I have a RS book that pertains to that area, I've pulled just a few pages from the book and stapled them together. We read both sets of info when we're on the train to the next location and decide what interests us the most. When we're leaving that town, I throw away my papers but keep the few RS book pages and tape them back into my book when I'm home.

I like keeping receipts or business cards of places we've stayed or museums tickets, etc. I put them in a Ziploc, and keep them in a large clear envelope by trip afterwards. They're fun to look through again, and it's been helpful to have restaurant names or my sheet with hotel names. We always say we're going to keep a journal of our trips, but we're out having too much fun!

Posted by
439 posts

Wow! Most people here make me look unorganized. My husband & family think I am over the top.

I make 2 copies of reservations. I keep one in one of our bags, I carry the other in a file folder, paper clipped by city, sorted in chronological order. I rip it up & discard as we go. I keep an electronic copy on google drive. I also use TripIt to summarize my itinerary. I find tripit quite helpful. Most of the information is directly updated from my email account. I can then tweek it if I need to. From tripit, it is automatically loaded into mine & my husband's google calendar. TripIt will give you the directions from the airport to the hotel so if you have a disagreeable taxi drive, you can show him written instructions or the map. I will pull the current information & keep it in my pocket for quick reference.

I also keep an electronic copy of maps to pdf so that you can pull up on your ipad if you don't feel like dragging a ton of paper around with you on day trips.

I also send a Trip It copy of our itinerary to a family member for an emergency.

As far as tracking expenses go, my husband keeps envelopes by city which I summarize when we get home.

I go back & forth with copying credit cards. I used to keep a spreadsheet but during one trip, I accidently left it out in a hotel room. I realized, that all the person would have to do is snap a photo of ALL our information. I now copy each individually & keep it tucked into deep storage with a copy of our itinerary. I use the rick steves black pouch that attaches to the bag.

Thanks,

Mary

Posted by
9 posts

Brilliant thread, Lulu. We leave tomorrow and I will use several of the ideas above. Thanks all.

I'm hybrid thechnology and paper, but the point of not scanning both sides of cards is valid. I made a small list of our card numbers and contact numbers for each of us in our money belt, but I was really uncomfortable with all that information floating around in cyberspace. I shall delete all I can and leave a paper copy at home instead.

Posted by
11613 posts

I print out hotel reservations, train tickets and museum vouchers, clip the whole shebang together in chronological order and put it in a gallon-size ziplock bag. I throw away each printed piece when I no longer need it, and replace it with a business card and/or receipt, if I want to remember the place; these go in one of the zipper compartments on my 20" rolling carry on.

I use the Notes app for recommendations. Guidebooks are in iBooks, highlighted.

Posted by
6991 posts

"Nancy, do you use a camera or buy a local phone when you get there?"

Okay, maybe I overstated the 'no electronics'. I do take my camera and sometimes I travel with a netbook computer but that's only for uploading photos, keeping my journal, and occasionally emailing nightly in my room. I don't carry it with me when sightseeing so it doesn't replace my paper. No ipad/ipod/tablet/ereader/iphone. I know many here wouldn't think of traveling without at least one of these, but it works for me. I kinda like being 'off the grid'.

Posted by
3670 posts

Hi Lulu,
"Is the 3 ring binder very heavy? I use 3 ring binders all the time at work, but they are 2-3 inches and quite heavy when filled. I'm assuming you use a 1/2" binder? I do like that there are pockets inside those. The nice thing about a binder or separate city envelopes is that you can keep adding things...with the spiral bound book...you are sort of stuck after it's complete and will have to take loose papers."

I use the three ring binder that is the hard plastic-covered cardboard. It is a one-half inch thick notebook. No, it is not very heavy. You don't want to take a two or three-inch notebook full of stuff unless you're going to be gone a very long time (six months). Yes, the pockets inside are great for keeping stuff.

I just got tired of having a bunch of folded-up, balled up papers in the bottom of my travel bag. Better to be organized with a notebook and just turn to what you need.

Posted by
731 posts

On our BOE21 day tour I had a plastic 5-7 pocket folder and each pocket was labeled with the country we were visiting. I got this pretty cheaply at Target. I liked having multiple pockets for each country as I printed hotel reservations, had copies of Eiffel Tower tickets, Museum passes, etc in the pockets. I also tried to keep electronic copies of these items (I had e copies of our boarding passes) whenever possible. Just make sure you have that device fully charged if you are relying on electronic copies!

Posted by
399 posts

I staple together copies of everything in the order I will use them. I put them in a see through folder with the current on on top. As I use each paper I toss it, except for those that must last me the entire trip (insurance instructions, etc.).

I also save them to Evernote. I pay the $25 to get the docs stored on my devices so I don't have to have internet connections to look them up. Just in case.

Posted by
2767 posts

I also keep a large ziplock with random papers I aquire along the way and want to keep. Museum maps, receipts, business cards, that kind of thing. These just sit at home in the bag (no organization except 1 bag per trip, labeled with the trip and year, I.e Andalucia 2015). It's pretty fun to look through months or years later and it's free :)

Posted by
524 posts

Some questions

  1. I went to google maps, never been before. I could enlarge the map, but couldn't go right or left. Do I have to register to be able to manipulate it. I would like to find our way to some restaurants.

  2. So, do you take all your paper, scan all of it in one big PDF and then how do you save? We have an iPad, and DH saves stuff on his phone. Do I just email it to him. He can access his work email from iPad or phone. I'm assuming he can still in Italy. Or do you make smaller PDF attachments to find things easier..hotel, airline, trains, etc.

Posted by
13675 posts

Lulu, are you on a PC/laptop or a mobile device (not familiar with Macs). No you do not need to register to manipulate it. It works fine if I sign out if I am doing directions for someone say on Trip Advisor and dont want the link to show my email address.

With a laptop on googlemaps, you just hold down the left click and move the map around with the mouse or mouse pad. There is also a way to do directions. Into the search box put the name of your hotel (or wherever your starting point is) On the upper left click were the symbol of 2 arrows diverge and it says directions. A drop down box pops up so then put in your restaurant. You may need to use the direction indicators just to the right to make your hotel be first and the restaurant be 2nd. Be sure you click on the person icon for walking directions or it will default to driving directions.

Posted by
2251 posts

My goodness-what a great question and even better answers! I am all over the place as regards a response and do a little save-to-electronics and (more) paper copies. I have just gotten a bunch of better ideas and will begin tomorrow to try to get better organized for my upcoming Village Italy trip! Thanks to you, Lulu, for posting the topic and to everyone else for the great ideas of better ways!

Posted by
2767 posts

For PDFs, some info is scanned. I have passport copies saved this way as well as translation of medical conditions, from a medical site about the relevant condition.

Other info I simply type into word processing and later convert to PDF (itinerary). Some is copied and pasted from e-mails (hotel confirmations).

If you send yourself and your travel partner the document as an attachment, you should be able to save it to your phone or iPads homescreen for offline access. And it's still in your e-mail, so if there's a problem, you just need to find wifi and save it again. I keep a folder in my email box of all trip stuff (confirmations, flight emails, whatever any trip related service sends me) so worst case I can just access it on wifi that way. There are more sophisticated services for this kind of thing, but this works.

Google maps is fabulous, and you don't need to register, but it takes some practice. And if you want to loose many hours, start "walking" your destination in street view in google maps. This allows you to see every street in most cities and a lot of small towns, from the point of view of a car. Or boat. Venice has canal view :) there will be plenty of tutorials online of how to use it.

Posted by
3670 posts

You can also Google (just straight search in the Google box) the "name of the restaurant, London," for example Their website will come up in a list of other references to it. Usually you can go to their own website and see "How to find us" and click on their own map. Click "print" on your computer and print their map.

If they do not have a map, look at the original Google search result. There will be a map somewhere in the column with all the results. Click on that map, print it. You should be able to zoom in to include the names of streets around there, and do include a tube or metro station in the map that you print so you will know which is the nearest to your restaurant. If it is close to a landmark, such as Tower of London, for example, include that in the edge of the map you print, so you can get your bearings.

After you print the map, write the phone number of the restaurant on the map. So you can call them if you are having a hard time finding them. Also good for calling and making reservations beforehand.

Posted by
136 posts

I travel a fair amount for work, so I handle vacation info largely the same way. First, I use this pouch for all of my papers: http://www.containerstore.com/shop/office/paperFileStorage/expandingFilesPouches?productId=10032260&N=74538. The pockets are very handy for chargers or other small odds and ends. For the RS trip I'll soon be going on, all of the papers went into the pouch when I got them. I stick a large post-it note on it and use it as a checklist to keep track of other stuff to put into it.

For longer trips, I typically make a document in Word with three columns: one for the date, one for the day's activities, and one for the place I'm staying that night (i.e., there'd be a row for each day). I'm a visual thinker and I've planned more time before/after RS trips, so this helps me make plans. I send this to family and friends so they can follow what I'm up to, too.

I do keep info on my smartphone (and am currently experimenting with Microsoft One Note for keeping track of things for the trip), but having a paper backup is handy. Trying to talk on the phone and look up info on it can be pain. Also, I still prefer to use Streetwise maps to using map apps, especially since they can be hard to see in bright sunshine (which I hope we all have for our trips!).

Posted by
6929 posts

Another option - sometimes easier to go from Point "A" to Point "B" on the map is to enter those two addresses in rome2rio.com I like this feature if I'm trying to find out the best way from the train station to the hotel, for instance, because it gives the information in the left column of exactly which Bus #s, for instance. And, then you can just print the map.

I also use the Google Maps when I'm deciding on a final choice to book a hotel. I pull up the "Person" and walk a few blocks in each direction. It's helped me weed out some locations and also pick some more budget hotels at times that are on great streets.

Posted by
2349 posts

I have nothing to add to all of the above. (How could I? You've all got such great ideas!)

My best trick is that I keep a word document where I can quickly paste something I find when I am researching. If someone mentions a site or restaurant on the forum, I'll just drop that on my doc so I can find it later. It has sections like Hotels, Restaurants, etc. I may not really look at it for months, but then can reference it when I need to.

And while we're having fun with office supplies- I put all emergency info into a document about the size of a business card. I print a bunch of them on one piece of paper, cut them out, and laminate them. Then I can tuck them in suitcases, purses, money belts, etc. I include hotel addresses and phone numbers, and home info as well.

Posted by
32155 posts

Lots of great suggestions in this Thread. I use somewhat of a "hybrid" system which includes both paper and electronic methods.

For keeping track of the small amount of paperwork I pack along, I primarily use two clear heavy duty sheet protectors (Staples). One is labelled on the front with "Itinerary" and on the back with "Lodgings". The second one is labelled "Transportation" and "Misc." When all the documents are inserted, I doubt if the two of them together would be 1/4" thick so they don't take up much room in my Daypack.

More information on the contents of the sheet protectors.....

  • Itinerary - my Itinerary (which is in a Word document) is very detailed and because of that I don't often need to pack paper guidebooks along any more. In order to simplify things, I use double-sided printing on each sheet of paper. I have a fairly complete library of guidebooks and do my research before the trip, and put the pertinent details into my Itinerary. At times I may pack along one of the "Pocket Guidebooks" or some pages from a full size guidebook as I find paper easier to use when out touring. If I feel I might need to refer to a book during the trip, I'll use an E-book in Kindle format which is accessible both on my iPhone and Netbook. All the details for hotels, touring, transportation, etc. are in the Itinerary so that's the main thing I use during trips. At the end of each day, I place the page for the next day at the front so it's easily viewable.
  • Lodgings - this contains the confirmation print-outs from each of the hotels or B&B's I'll be using. When I arrive in each location, I move that page to the back so the details for the next location are on top and easily viewable. Having the print-outs has proven useful in the past. Occasionally a hotel will "lose" my reservation, but when their confirmation document is produced they always manage to find me a room.
  • Transportation - this contains a summary of my transportation for that trip (prepared on an Excel document), and includes things like train numbers, departure and arrival times, platform numbers, etc. Boarding passes or other documents for any flights I'll be using are also in this section, as well as details for any pre-purchased rail tickets.
  • Misc. - anything that doesn't fit the other categories is placed in this section.

Of course I always have a backup for important documents and those are carried on a USB memory stick (which is carried in my Money Belt), so easy to access the files from my Netbook. My Itinerary and some of the more important documents (incluidng a PDF copy of my Passport) are also saved on my iPhone using Doc's To Go which can handle MS Word/Excel as well as PDF files, and I could easily E-mail to myself if needed.

How to deal with trip information is always somewhat of a "work in progress" every year, and it's always being fine tuned.

Posted by
15544 posts

A couple of years ago I bought an iPod Touch to replace my nearly obsolete iPod Classic which I used for music and audio books almost daily. I love the Touch when I travel. It's thin and light, fits easily into a pocket, and has all the capabilities of an iPhone except there's no phone. That does mean that I need wifi to access the internet, but I can update every night in my hotel, and these days, at many bars, cafes, restaurants and city hot spots too. And if I see something interesting I take a photo or make a note on it. . . In Paris I saw a couple pulling beautiful scarves (just what I was looking for) out of a shopping bag. I took a photo of the name and address of the shop. No fuss, no mess.

Now, besides the paper I print out and pack, I have everything on the Touch and in a Dropbox. I do all my planning on the computer at home (excel, word, pdf). On my last trip, I found it was often easier to look for info on the Touch than on the print-outs. My Excel spreadsheet has a detailed calendar, a list of hotels with addresses, phone numbers, etc., a list of attractions with opening hours, addresses, etc. I download audio guides to the Touch. Like Ken, I try to leave the books at home. If there are a few pages, I scan them instead of photocopy. That way I have them on the Touch and a hard copy.

I check luggage and I pack most of the paper in the suitcase. The only pages I carry with me are tickets, vouchers, insurance policy and the pages I need for my first 2-3 days.

Posted by
2386 posts

I hew pretty closely to what Ken says above, with the following nuances: I print two pages per side on each side for the itinerary; I retain small receipts in one of the sheet protectors and misc. papers/cards in the other so that they become a little bulkier as the trip goes on; I don't want to carry these master sheet protectors during the day if I don't have to, so I may have a third currently-in-play sheet protector to hold just that day's info; I tend to like redundancy in maps, so I'll have a google maps printout and a commercial map and maybe whatever the hotel desk or TI hands out, too.
I like the addresses on cards idea! There have been a couple of señor moments in Spanish-speaking countries when I realized a little late that I was mixing my Santa Cualquieros up and needed to backtrack.

Posted by
524 posts

Pam...I was using my work PC. I was wanting to print it out. I found the icon to enlarge down ay the bottom right of the screen so I could see street names, but no arrows to navigate up or down. I did figure out how to use the direction fields over on the left..but I wanyed yo read the two together. Argh..might try from my home computer.

I'll never find the restaurants I want if I cant find a map to read. I bought the streetwise maps, but how confusing.

Wow...everyone is continuing with the terrific ideas! Love the flash drive backup tip. I need to learn how to save files on my IPAD touch.

I like the idea of the postcards for hotels AND restaurants.

More questions

  1. when saving passport info, do you just copy the front and pages with your picture?

  2. Why don't you copy front and back of CC?

Posted by
211 posts

Just my 2 cents: about 5 years ago in Italy, the laptop on which everything had been stored developed a serious problem and thus access to our stored info was removed. Fortunately, because I am old, I had paper copies of some of it. The issues did get resolved but now, while my SO takes everything electronically, I always travel with paper copies of all reservations/tickets/critical things. I used to put them in a soft-side 1/2" 3 hole binder chronologically. Now I keep them in a multipocket 10 x 12 plastic envelope-looking thing that closes with an elastic. I do not miss having to use the 3 hole punch on every page ;)

Posted by
2767 posts

Lulu, just the main pages of the passport, with your picture and signature. On US passports, this is one page open - top and bottom, top has the We The People paragraph and your signature, bottom has your picture and the typed information. Then, if you loose your passport, you can print this or just bring the electronic copy to the embassy and they should be able to issue a new passport. I have never had to do this, but I've read that having a copy makes everything go much smoother.

I don't copy credit cards because a thief or hacker could easily use the numbers. I just have the phone numbers for the CC company saved somewhere so I can call in case it is lost - and I can access all my accounts online to see charges and such. I did loose a card once, I just called the international number and cancelled the card. A new card was sent when I got home. I checked online and there were no unexpected charges before I cancelled the card, luckily. I think it was just lost, not stolen.

Kate, yes! Never store your electronic copies just on a device. Have them in your e-mail or other cloud service so you can re-download anywhere. Or on a USB drive in addition to the computer. Or just with a friend at home who can e-mail them to you if needed. After all, you could loose the paper, too. And I would, I'm a mess like that.

As for printing maps to restaurants, yes, you could...but if you're going on a 2 week trip and have 10 restaurants you want to try...why take all that paper? Either save the maps electronically, or list the addresses and nearby landmarks (i.e. Casa de Carlos, address, 2 blocks north of cathedral) in a text document , or better yet just use an offline map app and "pin" each restaurant. I have a map for each city and it has "pins" marking the location of all sorts of places I want to go. And I can make notes, i.e. Casa de Carlos, supposed to have great seafood paella, closed on Mondays, phone 555.... If I have a reservation, I can note that too. It's marked on the map, so I know it's near the cathedral, and I can use the map to get there.

By bringing my kindle and phone, and my husband brings an ipad (and associated chargers), we save the weight of:
a ton of paper, binders, notes, etc as listed above
recreational reading (I prefer paper books at home, but the weight it saves for trips is worth it)
guidebooks (electronic versions, although sometimes I keep a paper version at home for planning and an e-version for the trip)
phrase books/dictionaries/menu readers
address books, calculator, flashlight, calendar, notepad all sorts of random things.
CDs/other music listening device
film (I'm into photography so I bring a big digital camera, but plenty of people are fine with phone cameras)

Posted by
3940 posts

I'm a little crafty, so I made myself a spiral bound book about 5x11 - it fits nicely in the front pocket of my carry on. I put little pockets on the bottom of the pages to slide in the papers and have about 12 pages - each is for a day (I use front and back giving me 24). I put sticky notes at the top of the page saying which city and day. If I have any confirmations printed out for trains, planes, hotels or sights/tours, I put it on the proper day then discard as we go along (unless there is a lot of personal info on it).

I also use it to keep all the bits and pieces collected...ticket stubs, credit card receipts, ATM receipts, site maps...anything I think I may want to use to scrapbook (which I have the best intentions of doing, but it hasn't happened yet!).

I do also carry my iPad and even tho I have electronic copies of most things, I like having paper as a back up...in case of a dead battery.

It is good to have a back up - I still remember we were flying from Venice to London in 2008 and I was using the computer at the VCE airport. The woman using the computer ahead of me had left a 3 ring binder on the floor. I didn't notice until the plane was boarding and I had to get off the computer, and I didn't see if she had gotten on the plane we were getting on. I left it with the attendants at the desk. I remember the woman had a silver hard side carry on, and when we were getting off in London, she was standing there on the 'off ramp' (what do you call the hallway that you depart from the plane to go into the airport??!). I asked her if she had been using the computer and when she said yes, I told her she had left her binder on the floor. I would have brought it on the plane had I thought I could find her, but I didn't know that she wasn't on another flight. I had flipped it open at the time and it looked like all her travel plans/confirmations. She looked absolutely ill! So don't put all your eggs (or info) in one basket (or book).

Posted by
524 posts

Mira...good idea about emailing your pdf files to someone. I have that written down to do...will send them to MIL!

I"m having fun this morning starting to scan and organize for my PDF files. I'll have it on email and save it on the IPAD.

Posted by
4230 posts

Make sure if you save anything with personal identifying info on an electronic device that you lock the file. In addition to locking the device.

And if you carry paper copies with PII, come up with some kind of code system that either obscures or omits some of the digits.

Posted by
3696 posts

I am like Nicole and have made my own travel log/journal and just keep everything in there. It has a page for each day and if I have a reservation for a hotel I just put all the info on that day. I have enough trip log pages for each day of my trip. I would also put car rental info on the day when I am picking up. I still do have some paper copies of things, but my journal is put together using the levenger binding system. I can just punch the pages, add them to the journal, and throw them away when I don't need them. I have lots of blank pages in the back of my journal for additional writing and sketching, as well as a number of envelopes for tickets, etc. Mine is about 5x8 and I have a sheer bag that it fits in as well as holds a pen. I will sometimes take photos of important info as well. I tend to travel without too many extra books, as I do not want to carry them. I will be taking my ipad mini next trip and will have some RS podcasts on there to entertain me while I am driving:) Have listened to a ton of them recently as I had to make 2 driving trips to Chicago in one week...

Posted by
19025 posts

Since I travel to Europe with electronics (that's right-no old technology, paperless) I have everything in the flash drive I carry. And I carry a small (2#) netbook to have with me, but I could use the flash drive anywhere, e.g., at an Internet cafe, if necessary. My netbook long ago justified it's weight. Yeah, tablets are lighter, but their faux keyboards aren't worth the weight savings for me.

I don't need to bring along a lot of paper confirmations. Most of my train travel uses point-point tickets bought on the day of travel or regional passes, which don't need confirmation. The small Gästehäuser I stay in don't require written confirmations, since I book directly with them by email (I do have a copy of their email on my computer, but I've never needed it - they're expecting me). I've never booked something like a castle tour in advance, but if I did, I'd carry it. These few sheet of paper, along with a printed copy of my itinerary, fit with my netbook in it's case. Everything else is electronic.

When I start planning, I create a workbook for my trip. It used to be Excel, now it's OpenOffice, but the principle is the same. The first page (sheet) has my itinerary. There is a page for every day that I plan to have extensive travel (by train or bus) with the schedules for my preferred train and later ones. There is also a page for everyplace I plan to stay. There I have the name and address (email) of accommodations in town. When I finally book one I highlight it, but I retain the others, just in case. I copy and paste a map of town on the page, along with info about sights I might see. Finally, I link each page back to the itinerary.

Posted by
2581 posts

I have a plastic zipped pouch that holds all my info pages, some notes and a separate clip for tickets. Into that I add receipts as I travel and all my ticket stubs, while removing duplicate pages so eventually that's all that's left when I get home. I keep a small travel journal with pertinent details in my purse.

Posted by
93 posts

I use the tripit app. love it. also put boarding tickets on my iphone as well. backup pdf's in my drop box.
I do keep paper copies in my bag just in case. I have them folded and write on them the date and segment info and put them in order. toss them along the way.