Travel Planning: An Organization Sensation
Skipping the services of a travel agent or tour company comes with the major perk of freedom - freedom to pick and choose a travel plan that fits your needs and interests. But with this freedom comes a whole host of responsibilities. Where will you go? Where will you stay? What do you want to see? How will you get there? When is the best time to go?
Once the excitement of committing to a trip sets in, the logistics alone can make you want to trade in your plane ticket for a cruise. If you aren't traveling by yourself, adding in the preferences of other people can make this process that much more difficult.
There are ways to manage your trip. You can do this. Trust me. I've had more nights in the past three months of planning where I've gone to bed more confused and unplanned than planned. A tight timeline, rising ticket costs, and some organized tools finally pushed me to buckle down and commit.
Grab a cup of something pleasant and prepare yourself for some armchair traveling.
BECOME MOBILE FRIENDLY
At home it's easy to sit on your tablet or computer while planning your elaborate getaway. However, it is most helpful to get into the habit of using your mobile device as your travel tool. Most of following tools don't require an internet connection once you have everything set in place, so when you get to your destination you have everything ready at your fingertips with or without the coveted gift of free wifi while you're abroad.
I'll start with what I really know. I'm happiest when all of my thoughts and plans are neatly filed away in tabbed notebooks and highlighted books. To digitize this in the interest of sharing and not physically losing, the following tools are extremely helpful and easy to use.
If you do nothing else from this list, do this. It requires the least effort and yields maximum benefits.
Use your calendar app.
Master tip: we all have our "spam" e-mail addresses. Don't use this when booking parts of your trip. Instead, use one e-mail address and make sure that it's connected to your calendar platform. This way, the calendar will automatically pull in those items as "invites" that you can add to your schedule. You can share your calendar in Google Calendar via e-mail and collaborate with fellow travelers. This one tool has been a game changer. It makes booking easier, and gives you a birds eye view of your trip.
GET PINTERESTED IN NEW PLACES
Pinterest is a great tool for quick reads and inspiration, but it's also a great tool for aggregating your favorite travel blog posts. PInterest boards can be made private, shared, and collaborative. Use it to pin interesting articles and photographs to inspire deeper research. Once you get the rhythm of pinning going, Pinterest recognizes themes and starts suggesting pins in your main feed. It's a simple way to learn more about your destination in a visual way.
CAN I VENMO YOU FOR THAT?
Long gone are the days of bank transfers and withdrawing cash to pay friends back. Venmo is a free service that connects your bank account to your social feed/contact list to seamlessly transfer money with friends. Use Venmo to charge fellow travelers for shared bookings.
CARE TO SHARE
Airbnb does a particularly good job of providing options to share itinerary information with your travel companions. You can also share wishlists with others. Upon booking, you'll have the option to send your booking details via e-mail and they'll get a direct e-mail from Airbnb with the details. No more second-hand forwarded messages. Everything will be populated within individual's Airbnb accounts for organized delight.
if you can't beat em, join their updates
Sign up for updates and newsletters far in advance.
In my case, La Liga fixtures weren't release until about a month before my planned trip. Signing up for ticket sales updates allowed us to land some pretty awesome tickets. Score.
Of course there is nothing wrong with scribbling some stars on the map and going the post-it note route, but sometimes - you just want to get it all figured out and then forget about it.
Have you tried any of these tools in your travel planning? Which is your favorite? Any suggestions for easily organizing travel plans? Leave tips in the comments below.