Summer is approaching, what are your travel plans? There are a lot of moving parts in travel planning: ideas, resources, and schedules.
Stay Organized, Create a System
Having any kind of system in place to manage the inflow of resources is critical to reduce overwhelm and help make your decision making more efficient. Organizing information is like organizing things in your house. Having a dedicated space for your travel plans makes it easy to pick up where you left off in your planning efforts.
Choose one location where you’ll keep track of everything. This is critical to avoid having bits of information floating everywhere – random emails, scraps of paper, bookmarked website. Examples:
- Evernote or Pinterest –online project management tools
- Email folder and/or Documents folder
- Shared calendars or documents or folders if multiple people are involved in the planning.
Keep a running to-do list of planning tasks. In addition, create a checklist of major components: this includes transportation, lodging, activities … in addition to logistics: banking, credit, phone. Checklists help you know what has been handled and what is still outstanding.
Set Your Priorities
Sometimes working with the blank slate of an open 2 weeks is daunting. To help build out the structure of a trip it helps to determine your “have to do’s” vs. your “nice to do’s”.
- Are your to/from dates set in stone? How much flexibility do you have around travel dates? Prices can vary a lot based on day of week you travel
- Are there key sights or events that are MUST do’s? If so, are they available any time or are there limits? For example, if you’re traveling to Paris and getting to the top of the Eiffel Tower is a must for you – researching the availability of tickets for that may determine which day that has to happen.
- Are you traveling for an event such as a wedding or concert/play/tour?
Your top priorities will be fixed points both for day and location that the trip planning will evolve around so figuring them out first makes planning more efficient.
Planning can take a lot of time – start your research early – talk to friends, put it out on Facebook, browse travel websites. Find out what you shouldn’t miss! This will help give you a rich pool of things to choose from while setting your top travel priorities.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Many people have taken your trip before you…there are tons of travel advice and resources on the Web. A quick search of “things I need to do before traveling to X” will turn up a great list to build your Travel To-Do list.
Delegating can make the trip more fun for you…especially if you’re not the only one responsible for logistics. Share the burden and get your fellow travelers’ buy-in. Can you assign your partner to handle a component of the research and planning… or can your teen-age companion scope out fun things to do at your destination?
Stay Organized on the Road
As the date of departure approaches, tidy up. Dispose of unnecessary bits of info and separate out the final itinerary details from all the planning materials.
You’ve worked hard to plan the trip – continue to reap the benefits of your organization the whole way. Create digital images of all your important documents and reservations. Keep one pocket of your carry-on dedicated to holding any travel plans. Have a backup also – send it to yourself in an email or make sure you’ll have cloud access to any summary documents you created. Make sure your traveling partner has all the info as well.
Just as being organized at home helps you enjoy your space better, organizing your travel planning helps you focus on the adventure ahead instead of being mired in logistics.