How To Organize for An Upcoming Trip in 7 Steps
Planning and organizing for an upcoming trip is half the fun of actually traveling – in essence, you are dreaming and setting intentions for your soon-to-be adventure!
Now that I’ve been on a fair number of travel adventures, I’ve come up with a system. This system allows me peace of mind, a clear plan-of-action and an organized itinerary. What is this system?
I might be old-fashioned, but my system is to write it all out on a master document. I make an organized (and detailed) itinerary of my upcoming trip. This itinerary includes:
1. Flight Information
The departure date and time, as well as the arrival date and time – and of course, the flight number.
2. Transportation Information
HOW I am getting from the airport to my destination. If I am taking a cab, I will write it down. I will research “taking a cab in x city” and take some quick notes (also bookmark the website for future reference, if the info is quite detailed).
If I am taking public transport, I will write the bus number, the directions, how to get a metro pass, etc. It’s also handy to know how much your transportation will cost beforehand. Depending on your destination, you might need to have exact change. It’s also safer to have the money ready, in a separate coin purse so you don’t need to be handling large amounts of money on a busy subway station (I almost learned the hard way in Paris). You get the idea – be prepared!
3. Accommodation Information
I usually stay at Airbnb apartments or private rooms, so this is where (and why) I get into the details – with apartments, you won’t have a big sign like at a hotel or hostel. Instead, you’ll need to look for streets signs, ringer numbers, floor numbers, etc. This is why before I leave, I make sure to check out my apartment on google maps street view. Take a screenshot, and save it to your phone (and add it to this “master document”). A visual can be quite handy after a long day of travel, or if you arrive at night. Be sure to jot down the name of your host and their phone number, just in case. I say this because you might not have Wi-Fi or Internet access, (i.e. no access to your Airbnb app). Of course, include the address and any particulars, too. For more on what you need to know before you arrive at your Airbnb apartment, read this.
If you are staying at a hotel or hostel, write out the address and phone number.
4. The Basics of the Country
What is the local currency? What is the time zone? What are “hi”, “thank you”, and “bye” in the local language? I include these so I have them handy in the master list.
I also keep independent notes for each new language with more helpful words and phrases (“Do you speak English?”, “please”, “thank you very much”, “pardon me”, “how much?”, “yes”, and “no”…) If you’re traveling to more than one location and changing languages frequently, I find it helpful to practice the new language on the travel day. This way, the language will be fresh in your memory and you can begin using it right away, upon arrival.
If you are visiting and staying at more than one location, I continue these steps for every new location. This means if I am taking a train (eg. from Dresden to Prague) I will include all the travel information in the steps mentioned above (train, reservation number, directions from Prague train station to my airbnb/hotel/hostel, currency and time zone in the Czech Republic, etc.)
If you are a little more spontaneous, I still encourage you to follow this guide and add the information as you go along. Even with all this information, you will still be double and triple-checking your gate number, you will still ask the guards, clerks and passers-by questions – this is inevitable. You can’t really know what you’re doing until you’re there doing it. But this helps me be a little more confident, a little more prepared and you know what? Sometimes, I’m even the one being asked how to purchase a ticket, and I am able to help! How empowering! This will happen to you too, and it’s quite a lovely experience to be able to help someone out in this way.
For this master document to best serve you, I encourage you to save it in several ways:
1. Save it in Evernote
If you do not have an Evernote profile, create one – now! It’s free and what’s great about Evernote is that your notes are synced from device to device. This means that when you create a note in Evernote, you can access it from any device that has Evernote: from your laptop to your iPad to your cellphone (which is why it is perfect for traveling). This way, you’ll always have it handy.
2. Create Sub Notes
If you have more than one destination during your travels, create sub notes (also in Evernote). For each city (or country), copy and paste the specifics from your master note to your sub note. You can add more information in these notes (like what sights you want to see, dates and times for booked tours, the name of that restaurant your friend recommended…)
3. Share This With a Loved One
Especially if you are traveling alone, I encourage you to share this document with a loved one. I am all for independent travel but I think it’s important that someone you trust knows where you’ll be. This is just a common-sense safety procedure! With Evernote, you can share notes with other users J If you’re special someone isn’t into all that fancy online stuff, just print it out for them (I actually keep a printed copy on me, too!)
I hope this was helpful – I know that for longer trips especially, this kind of organized master itinerary has saved me loads of time (I don’t need to go digging in my inbox for my flight info, or dig into the Airbnb conversation with my host for which doorbell no. to ring!) Let me know if this did help!