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How do you organize your travel Documents? I Need a Good System.

How do you organize your travel Documents? I Need a Good System.

Aug 30th, 2003, 11:09 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
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How do you organize your travel Documents? I Need a Good System.

We'll be travelling to 5 cities in several countries and I'm trying to figure out the best system for keeping all the important information that I've gathered on Fodors in some order. I thought small manilla envelopes for each city would work but I don't seem to be able to find things easily, and I haven't even left yet. Hotel confirmations, itineraries, touring info., etc. I need suggestion!
bonlou30 is offline  
Aug 30th, 2003, 11:19 PM
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I'm what's known as a "global organizer", so I always put things in the first place that I'd think to look for them! (Manila envelopes that all look the same just wouldn't work for me.) I have a handbag with lotsa compartments to keep things separated.

For your Fodor's advice, how about keeping the printouts in your guidebook or journal? You could make a reminder list of main points, too, as it's hard to read through all those printouts to get to the main stuff.

Just a few thoughts! Happy travels
Amy is online now  
Aug 30th, 2003, 11:33 PM
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Hi, don't take too many papers or they will just get all mixed up...What I do is for each trip I am going on, I buy a travel journal (there are some that allow for alot of info)..In that journal I write out everything from itineraries to currency exchange to restaurants, attractions, etc. that we would like to see and hotel confirmations, telephone numbers, etc.
We then carry a little organizer that has spots for plane tickets, itineraries, insurance...We usually leave this in a safety deposit box in the hotel when we get to each country..Anyhow, hope this helps.
TracyB is offline  
Aug 30th, 2003, 11:48 PM
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I use a somewhat different system for multi-stop itineraries. I have some clear plastic 9x12 folders, open on 2 sides, that look like a single "sleeve" but are really divided into 4-5 sections. I use as many of these as I need.

I divide my paperwork not by the place, but by the category. So all my hotel reservations are in one section, tickets in another, etc. Itinerary in the top section, easily readable through the clear plastic. The trick to finding stuff is that I put them in the order I will need them, so wherever we are going next, the train tickets will be on top of the tickets section, the next hotel confirmation with address will be on top of the hotel section, etc. Then I can toss them or put them in my suitcase after that part of the trip is finished.

For sights, restaurants, travel tips and so on, I would organize by city. But it sounds as if maybe you need to consolidate some of this info to find it better. Rather than 5 different bits of paper with restaurants, for example, photocopy or tape them onto one sheet of paper marked Paris Restaurants. You might have a sheet for each city labeled "Basic Info", another for "Transportation Info", etc.

And oh yeah, back up whatever is vital info on your travel email. That way you can access it from any internet cafe just in case. Hope this helps! Have a great trip!
Marilyn is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 04:30 AM
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You will most likely discover that there are as many different methods as there are travelers and variations on those.

I create a calendar, using Word, delete days pre & post trip, then in each day's expanded space type in VIP info -- on 1st day: Hotel Name, Address, phone #, confirmation #. Brief plans for day - basically museum name, address & opening hours or something like "Boat Tour, South Dock, 10-5pm" or "Walking Tour Heminway, Subway Stop, 11 am". Bottom area includes all flight info & limo if used. That is my info master & is updated as needed upto the night before leaving. Put it in plastic sheet protector: calendar/cardboard like a pad backing/map or train info on back. That goes into my purse.

More detailed info -- what we want to see in the museum, for example, restaurant possibilities, ect. -- I keep like Marilyn above.

For our London/Chester/York/Edinburgh trip this spring I discovered some colored plastic 8.5x11 envelopes at Target -- velco closure. Put all London sheets in Green one, York info in Blue, etc. Since 90% of info was on computer, at end of city visit I tossed the sheets & put stubs, charge reciepts, etc for that city into its folder. Kept things neat & organized for travel album.

Also did the computer email thing for 1st time this past trip -- didn't need it but was nice to know emergency access was there if both my originals and the back-up hard copy in send-through were lost.
MHS is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 04:32 AM
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I use a two pocket folder that also has a 3-hole clip center section. I photocopy or print out all the information I need. Anything that I want to keep through the entire trip; e.g., return airline reservation info, car rental info, etc., goes in the "permanent" center section.

Maps and information on reservations (hotels, advance museum times, trains, etc.) and go in the left hand pocket. Information on sightseeing (including from fodors) goes in the right hand pocket. We throw this stuff away as we move through the trip.

I keep a duplicate of everything in the suitcase--it doesn't take much room.

I've seen dozens of ways to organize travel info, and what works for one might or might not work for another.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 05:58 AM
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I take a light slim 3 hole notebook--the kind with plastic covers, about an inch thick. Put all the info in it lined up by itinerary. I also print out maps for restaurants or sights we may want to go to with their addresses. Then on the day we are going I take what info out to go in our daypack. For our next trip I will probably download most to my IPaq.
You can also miniaturize this by taking all uyour info to Kinko's and have them spiral bind it.
Gretchen is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 06:16 AM
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I use the same thing as Rufus a 2 pocket folder with 3 rings. Depending on how many countries we are going to determines how many folders I make up. Usually I get a bright color for each country unless we are only in one or two for a couple nights. I include the hotel confirmation, driving trip tics, comments from the forum, etc.

When we are done with the country, I can pitch the folder if I need the room since most is copies of what I have at home. We usually keep at least one folder for receipts and things we pick up such as coasters or cards. This way when we have to declare on the way home, it is all in one place. This also facilitates when I go to organize pictures from the trip to augment them with the stuff we picked up.
MGB is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 06:32 AM
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Hi bonlou30,

Like many others here, I'm happily obsessed with planning for my trips.

I type or cut'npaste my itinerary (daily activities, schedules of shops and museums, train schedules, restaurant picks, other hints & suggestions) in great detail into a word document, format it, and print it onto 3x5 cards. Then the only other documents I need are printouts of hotel reservations. Each day I take only the small cards I need. I buy my train tickets as needed along the way . . .

swandav2000 is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 07:19 AM
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I also create a 3-ring folder for all paperwork. I organize the categories by:
Trip Itinerary, with dates/names of hotels, address and phone #'s, plus flight times and #'s - I make copies of this sheet and give to family members and neighbors, plus it's the 1st page of my folder
Airport Transportation Info - details on how to get to/from airports to hotels
Hotel Confirmations - lined up in order of use
Train Information - One page arranged by dates, with names of stations, departure times, train #'s
Restaurants - listed by destination
Sightseeing Information, by destination

I keep all plane and train tickets and passes in a plastic, zipped storage bag in my luggage, except what I'll need for that day.

This system seems to work for us. Hope this helps.

Hagan is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 07:49 AM
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I actually use two systems, but then my trips are 2 to 5 months long. I use an accordian file (expandable monthly type file for example) and label for each city or area. All my notes and downloaded maps, etc. are in those pockets. As I use up or discard the things in each city, I replace them with postcards, brochures I want to keep, etc, so they are all organized by area when I get home.

I also do a three ring notebook with my printed out authorizaions for hotels, cars, etc, so they aren't mixed into the other stuff. I also put mapquest print outs of driving routes in the order we are doing them, filed appropriately between the hotel reservations.
Patrick is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 07:55 AM
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As a new Fodorite I hesitate to give advice, however, I have used so much of the information here I thought I would throw this one out to you....

I have cut-and-paste all of the useful messages I have had in replies into the "Memo" section of my Palm Pilot and have several complete message threads about travel in London (including some purloined iteneraries, Ben Haines's tours, etc) into the memos. I have also copied the e-ticket from British Airways and the hotel confirmation information. I, of course, made the appropriate entries in my Calendar for the flight information and departure/terminals.

I know it's always appropriate to have hard copies of the e-ticket, etc. (which I will) but, for the wealth of information I have found here, nothing beats the Pilot. Else, I would have a notebook fo considerable size.

Just one untried plan for thought.


Dietdoctor is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 10:15 AM
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This would not work if you have loads of paper, but here's my system (learned from a Rick Steves poster years back).

I use pencil holders, the kind like kids would put in the front of a notebook. They have a zipper, clear front, varied color back (punched for 3-ring but I don't use that). Fits pieces of paper folded in half.

I use one of these pouches of a different color, for each city, also very handy for collecting maps, postcards, business cards while you are there. Once you leave that destination simply stow the bundle in the pocket of your suitcase.

I end up with a neat little packets upon return that I file as reference from each city.

Second thought if you have lots more papers, clear or see-thru/colored plastic 8-1/2x11 folders sealed on two sides as mentioned above.
suze is online now  
Aug 31st, 2003, 10:19 AM
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As one who isn't too computer literate, I'd love to know how you print Word info onto 3X5 cards.
suzy is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 11:18 AM
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A friend of mine once told me, "I'm not a control freak -- I'm 'organizationally enhanced'!"
I love that phrase and it's a kick to see so many other people on here that are, like me, "organizationally enhanced".
Marilyn is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 11:35 AM
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Hi Suzy,

It's pretty easy -- I also am computer challenged!

Anyway, start a new document in word, then under the "File" menu, select "Page Set Up." Then click on the tab, "Source, Size, Orientation" and on the "Size" drop down menu, select "Index Card 3x5." Then go to the "Margin" tab and set the top, bottom, left, and right margins to 0 (the computer won't let you do this but will then reset to the smallest allowable margins -- I always forget what they are). I think I can get more info onto the "portrait" orientation, but you may have to experiment. I also have to use 10-point type to fit more stuff in.

Then I take my original document and cut and paste onto the card document. Of course, then I just print the document and feed the cards one at a time, manual feed, to the printer.

I can usually get away with one card (printed back & front) for most days and two cards per day occasionally. I also carry lots of blank cards to record expenses for the day and journal thoughts too. I also have one card with the exchange rate cheat sheet on it.

I apologize if I've given insultingly simplistic directions -- I'm a teacher and I usually assume the worst!

swandav2000 is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 04:14 PM
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The 1st time we went to Italy, directions were lost and it made for a very stressful move from one city to the next. I knew I needed to come up with a better system for our next trip (we had 7 different locations in 4 weeks). I took our resrvations sheets, directions from mappy.com and a sheet that had all my fodors tips (I also copy and pasted into word) and seperated them by each city we would be in. I took a legal size envelope with the city name typed in big letters on each envelope and then put all envelopes in a manilla envelope. The manilla envelope was stuffed at 1st, but thinned out as we traveled because I threw out the directions and tips as we left the area. I also had a seperate envelope with copies of important documents, addresses, etc. This worked great for us. I then had the used envelopes to save receipts or whatever from each city.
travel52 is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 04:44 PM
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I tried the multiple folders idea (different color folder for each stop) and it just got to be too much hassle shuffling them around, so on this last trip to Italy, I just took one folder. I clipped together all my materials on each stop with a binder clip, and stuck a Post-It note on the front with the destination in big letters. It was all much easier to find.

For each city, I typed a list of the restaurant ideas I got from here, guidebooks, etc., onto regular 8 1/2 x 11 paper. I used cut-and-paste to organize them by neighborhood. Same with things to see and do. I carry a tote bag wherever I go (map, umbrella, sweater, etc.) and at each city I pulled those sheets out of my folder and carried them in the tote. It worked well for me.

I like to take entire tour books with me, instead of just taking notes or copying pertinent pages, and I use small Post-Its as tabs to mark critical pages in each guidebook. I use those tabbed pages throughout the trip!

(And, yes, I do own stock in the 3M Company! )
Linda0515 is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 05:10 PM
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I start my planning with a 1" 3 ring binder loaded with clear sheet protectors. I put a computer printed calendar in front for the weeks we'll be gone (which changes at least once). I have made up a sheet with the headings of City, Description, Location, Hours, and Cost that hold my notes for everything I want to do along the way. These are then transfered from hand written notes to type written just before we leave. These sheets along with hotel reservations and maps, car reservations, ferry info, tour reservations and anything else goes in sheet protectors and in the binder in cronological order. Upon departure most of the assembled info in now in a 1/2" binder in my carry on. I guarantee I protect this binder better than anything else that goes with us.
Rick is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 06:04 PM
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I too am an organizer. This is what works for me. I use one plastic file folder with velcro closure. I have a manila folder for each city that we will be visiting. That folder contains hotel confirmations, maps, guidebook pages that have been removed from the book and stapled together. Also keep any airline/railroad tickets in this. I also keep a small pocket notebook, (4x7)and have sections for each city. I include all hotel info. and transp. on 1 page. Then a brief discription of what we want to see and do, recommended resturants, etc. This small pocket notebook goes with me at all times. It has all the necessary info I need while we're out and about. I also type an itenerary that includes arrival and departure dates, airline schedules, hotel info., transp. info. It's an "at a glance" summery of our trip. Copies go to family, in our suitcase, we leave one at home. Happy traveling.
judi1 is offline  

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