How Do You Stay Organized While Traveling?

Fodor’s members recently swapped their tricks for staying on top of all of the details that go into planning a trip. No matter what they call their organizing system—”travel portfolio”, “travel organizer”, “trip folder”—most agree that having a clear strategy goes a long way in alleviating the stress of travel.

Below are some of our members’ strategies, including the items that they choose to include in their trip planners.

Are you into travel planning too? Add your own method for curtailing trip mayhem on the following topic, started by Fodor’s member seetheworld.

From the Forums: “I’m very impressed w/ the way you have organized our trip”

Strategy #1: Go high-tech

“I bought an iTouch before my last trip. I entered addresses and opening times for restaurants and museums that I was interested in, addresses and phone numbers for places I was staying, and confirmation numbers for reservations. I also had a small folder in which I kept e-tickets for trains etc.” — Shanti

Strategy #2: Use a coupon holder

“I’ve gotten this down to an art form. I use a simple plastic 12-pocket coupon holder (it’s about the size of a paperback). In the holder, I label the pockets as follows:

1) air travel

2) ground transportation

3) lodging

4) food

5) admissions

6) souvenirs

7) gifts

The rest of the pockets are labeled for specific destinations (for my last trip, they were: Halifax, Lunenburg, Brier Island, Truro).” — toedtoes

Strategy #3: Pack cards with your hotel’s address printed on it

“I have created an extensive Trip Portfolio which includes neon green labels of our hotel address in the event that I have difficulty communicating with taxi drivers. Also, included is a Military Time Chart so that I do not screw up on train times. Confirmations, tickets, passport copies, and train schedules are also included.” — seetheworld

Strategy #4: Keep a condensed sheet of your itinerary info handy

“I make an itinerary, print 2 copies out for my trip. It’s usually just 1 page double-sided (depending on how long the trip is). I keep one copy in my day bag and the spare one for my DH. So I can just whip out the page anytime, anywhere.

On it, I have:

1) day to day itinerary

2) attractions opening days and opening times

3) restaurant address and phone #s (and reservation time if I made a reservation)

4) hotel address and phone #s (I always include phone #s in case I’m lost and can’t find it)

5) Flights, Buses and trains departure and arrival times

For confirmations/emails (from hotels, concert tickets etc), I print them out and place it in a paper folder. I don’t carry the whole folder with me, but just take out individual page on the day I need it.” — yk

Strategy #5: Send your trip planning file to an email for later retrieval

“Portfolio may be a bit grandiose a description for what I do, but I do make a “cheat sheet”. Usually do it in Excel or Word, and include:

1)Traveler info: Full name (as on passport), DOB, passport info (#, issue date and place, expiration) for each person traveling

2)Air itinerary: dates, airline, flight #, arrival and departure airports and times, e-ticket confirmation number, airline web url & phone in US and in destination countries; do similar for scheduled train travel (e.g. Eurostar)

3) Ground transport: e.g., if using a car service for airport transfer – company and agent name, url, phone, confirmation #, scheduled pick up time and location.

4) Lodging: usually an apartment but sometimes hotel. Name of property, full address, phone if known, apartment owner/agent name and contact #, url

5) Calendar: for some trips over a week or to multiple destinations create a simple calendar and for each day note location, major activity (e.g., flight, train, major day trip) When traveling with a niece this goes to the parents who like having the info

I print out a copy or two to take along and also send the file to an email I can retrieve on the road. I also carry hard copies of receipts for tickets (air, train) and other confirmations (email from car service, hotel/apartment confirmation, etc) and forward a copy to the account accessible from the road.” — Seamus

Strategy #6: Stand up for yourself

“My family enjoys making fun of me for my trip planning, but my rebuttal is to ask how they would like it if, when they asked what we were going to do that day, or where we were going to stay, I just said, “I dunno” and gave them a blank stare. Vacations are too valuable to waste them planning “on the fly.” Besides, the planning is almost as much fun as the trip itself, at least it is for me.” — musicfan

Strategy #7: Use a binder and a three hole punch

“I have a 3 ring binder that I use for all of our trips. In it I’ll put individual tabbed dividers w/pockets for each city that we stay.

Also included is our overall itinerary, car rental info, trip insurance info and copies of hotel confirmations, printed maps with parking info at the various sights or intermediate stops we will be making.

I also copy pages from guide books on the individual cities we will be visiting and all of this goes behind the corresponding tabbed dividers.

I just pull out the individual pages for that day’s sightseeing, day trip, etc., and put it in my day bag.” — bettyk

Strategy #8: Devote a separate envelope to each destination

“On this last trip I took three plastic file envelopes; one for Ireland, one for Spain and one for the UK. In each one I put all tickets, confirmations, etc. for that destination.

I also took a small notebook and a quart-size zip-loc bag. I kept all of my receipts in the bag and used the notebook to keep track of ATM withdrawals and credit card purchases.” — CAPH52

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