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How do you organize yourself on vacation?

How do you organize yourself on vacation?

Old Aug 19th, 2014, 06:54 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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How do you organize yourself on vacation?

This may be a strange question but I'm really curious. We leave in 3 weeks and feeling overwhelmed. The last time we went to italy it was before apps etc... I hand wrote things in a travel journal that we wanted to do and I carried it with us (it was small)

So having all of your info handy...places you are staying, phone numbers, places you want to visit, restaurants to try, your own walking tours around a town etc...I'm not sure I want to trust an app? My husband will have use if his phone and mine will be pricey-I have sprint (he has his through work and can access it without any fees for us)

What does everyone do?
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Old Aug 19th, 2014, 07:00 PM
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I have gotten really disorganized when traveling for leisure, actually, and go with the flow, play everything by ear, on a wing and a prayer, etc., mixed. Metaphors, etc.

But when I do manage to get a little organized, I tend to write some things (hotel/apartment addresses) down in a small notebook. For other stuff (restaurants mostly), I use apps or map myself on my phone. I try to use the notes and calendar on my phone but find I often forget to review them, so...
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Old Aug 19th, 2014, 07:08 PM
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I'm old school. I still carry lots of paper, but I do throw lots of things away after we leave a place. I find paper easier to quickly scan for info, and after my phone had a heart attack last year I don't think of cellphones as being 100% reliable.

Do whatever works for you. Some people don't like being so dependent on devices; others don't like carrying paper.
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Old Aug 19th, 2014, 07:08 PM
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I use paper as I don't have a smart phone and even if I did it would be difficult for me to read anything from the small screen.

I compile sightseeing information in a Word file and have a daily itinerary with sights and some brief notes as an Excel file.

For hotels, tickets, etc. I put the information in a small travel folder (folded in thirds) and mark what they are on the upper edge so I can quickly access what I need.

I toss the paper as I move on and no longer need it.

I keep the travel files on my netbook which I also use to backup photos. Scanned copies of my passport, credit cards, ATM card are sent to my email and can be accessed from anywhere in case they are lost/stolen.
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Old Aug 19th, 2014, 07:09 PM
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I buy laminated maps (for larger cities) and use Post-It flags to mark locations so I can see what sights are close to each other and plan my days.
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Old Aug 19th, 2014, 07:11 PM
  #6  
 
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I create a PDF and put it on my ipad. It's free and keeps me very organized.
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Old Aug 19th, 2014, 07:26 PM
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When I book a hotel, apartment or purchase tickets, etc, I usually just print out a copy of the info and add any notes on transportation, any relevant phone numbers, time, etc. and carry it in an envelope. It isn't that much, one piece of paper for each hotel. I do photos of any maps, so even if there is no wifi, I can look at them. Other notes, I make in any guides books we take. That is it.

It is easier for me to take out just one piece of paper with only the info I need at the moment.

DH makes copies of passports and any really important stuff, just in case I throw something out. He also makes just a short list of important phone numbers on paper.
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Old Aug 19th, 2014, 08:32 PM
  #8  
 
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My organization style has evolved over time, but I more or less have a pattern down.

As my reliance on electronics has increased, I'm carrying far less paper. For example, I now never take an owner's manual for our cheapie GSM phones or a camera; instead, I send the manuals via PDF to iPad or Kindle. I may still take one hard copy guidebook, but I'll download others to place on Kindle and iPad. The restaurant lists that used to be hard copy are now sent to Kindle and iPad too.

Instead of hard copies of our passports, I place them on a Cloud system along with a coded list of our credit card data.

The most important thing is that instead of 10 novels I needed to take to keep me occupied on planes and trains have been replaced by my 3G Kindle, especially since I need no wireless connection to download a book anywhere in the world.

One thing that remains the same is my reliance on a one-page trip calendar. As soon as I book our flights, I create a Word calendar to list our plane, train, hotel and restaurant reservations, plus any tours or "to do" things (eg--buy SIM cards).

The print has to be made tinier and tinier as our itinerary fills, but we all do like having just one page.

Even before it's totally filled in, I email the basic calendar structure to anyone who is going on the trip so they have a clue as to when and what and so that they can also offer planning ideas.

Once the calendar is finalized, I put it in PDF form and send it to our Kindles and iPads.

Note: I sometimes took the time to place things on TripIt, but now that that app is no longer tied into FlightTrackPro, I'm not wasting my time. The one-page calendar works better anyway.

I do have hard copies of hotel reservations because I always want to confirm our pre-arranged prices when we check in/check out, and it's easier to pass a piece of paper over the hotel desk than hand over the iPad or Kindle.

These printed reservations, along with the one-page calendar, maps, train tickets, directions, and perhaps articles, are placed in plastic sleeves that can be put into a soft 3-ring binder. If the binder is too bulky, as can happen for a very complicated trip, we just divide the sleeves up between all who are traveling.

For any day's excursion on the trip, we can merely take out the pertinent plastic sleeves and toss them in a daypack.

If there is no further use for the paper after our hotel stay or train, or tour, I toss it while retaining the plastic sleeves, which end up doing double duty to hold receipts. If I want to make notes about the place, I might keep the paper. No matter what, the binder gets lighter and lighter during the trip.

I now enclose fewer maps, too, as time goes on. I used to swear by Streetwise Maps. I'm now willing to rely on a hotel map, mainly because we can check out exact directions on my husband's iPad at the hotel before we set out for the day. I recently had so much success with the MapsWithMe App on our last trip (it works offline, so I can use it with my smartphone in Airplane Mode)that I might not take any map along on our next trip.

As for packing, I keep a packing list folder on my computer that has subfolders with old packing lists for everything from a hot weather cycling trip to a weekend stay in NYC. I choose an appropriate old one, edit/update it (I can't believe I ever took a video camera to Paris!), and then send it by email to the family members as their starting point.
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Old Aug 19th, 2014, 08:33 PM
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I also carry a file with me. Do not trust that my cell phone even though fairly new will be there when I need it. Make Itinerary with important addresses, phone numbers and opening and closing times of museums, etc. dates and times we have advance reservations, etc. Make copies of passports, credit cards and # to call should they get lost. Call banks before we leave to notify them that we will be using cards outside of my home state. Am in the process now. It can be overwhelming sometimes but as we go along the file gets lighter and lighter making more room for souvenirs!
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Old Aug 19th, 2014, 08:34 PM
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Passport and credit cards ( back and front) are scanned and sent to my email address.

General info is kept In a spreadsheet... one tab for each location. Upper most information on each tab contains General Info: hotel info and reservation number, car rental, TI location, Supermarket location, etc.

Next section contains Sites: includes the sites I want to see, major attractions at each, opening times, prices, etc.

Next section includes any specific shopping items I want to pick up at that location and may be quite general, e.g., pâté, or more specific with store name, items to purchase, address and hours.

Used to research restaurants for the last section. Now, I just do that while in the location before I want to go to dinner, unless a specific restaurant I want to dine in requires an advanced reservation.
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Old Aug 19th, 2014, 08:36 PM
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Oh, forgot....

I copy pages of guide books and walking tours to take with me.

I, too, throw out the papers along the way. Still have my guidebooks and excel itineraries intact when I come home.
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Old Aug 19th, 2014, 08:44 PM
  #12  
 
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I use the free version of Tripit to organize hotel reservations, flights and restaurant reservations and share the itineraries with SO; for domestic trips, I figure that even in the unlikely event that my SO and I both lose our phones, I can recreate the essential data easily. For more complicated trips, I use a combination of Tripit, emails to myself, Notes on my phone, and paper: printed reservation confirmations, printed itineraries, etc. Overseas, I don't feel as comfortable relying exclusively on electronic devices.

We made an Xcel spreadsheet that we jokingly called The Matrix the first time we went to Willamette Valley to organize visits to wineries, and it was really helpful, but we don't usually go to those lengths.

I am not averse to bringing along a paper guidebook.
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Old Aug 19th, 2014, 08:47 PM
  #13  
 
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Sorry, wanted to add that one nice thing about devices is the ability to duplicate essential information--email things like scanned passport to yourself, copy it into the photo file on your phone, store it on the Cloud, carry a paper copy, do some of these or do them all.
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Old Aug 19th, 2014, 11:06 PM
  #14  
 
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I hand wrote things in a travel journal that we wanted to do and I carried it with us (it was small)

No reason to not do this. A Moleskine is cheaper than roaming fees.
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Old Aug 20th, 2014, 01:02 AM
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I often travel places where wi-fi connections are unreliable (including many otherwise lovely hotels) I once had a computer die on me the first day of a trip. So I never store all my travel information in a device that might not work on the road.

I write down on paper the basic itinerary , day by day, and include many useful telephone numbers (like the person who is feeding my cat, etc.) Before leaving home I print out all travel tickets, car rental vouchers and hotel confirmations if I've booked in advance.

I find quality guidebooks the least time consuming way to access sightseeing info while I am walking around a foreign city, plus I never worry about a book being stolen or lost. I generally pack one guidebook for the country I am visiting, plus several specific area or city guidebooks. I pack good paper maps plus a GPS. I also pack at least one guidebook that is solely about food and drink, and a menu translator. I used to pack fewer guidebooks, but now I carry fewer clothes instead. I realized from previous trips that I was carrying pounds of clothes I never wore but was constantly wishing I had more information about the places I was seeing.

I carry a laptop and thus can make last minute reservations and confirm opening times of museums, etc., and I always travel with a cell phone.
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Old Aug 20th, 2014, 01:48 AM
  #16  
 
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I have a small folder with all my booking information (needed because computers world wide are useless at getting the contract right), I carry the core maps we need in paper. I may take a guide book but I also use tourist information offices when I get there for local maps and details. I carry an old style phone. I keep all the maps and throw out all the details/flyers as we go.

Mrs Bilbo runs her own business so can need to work on holiday and she carries a netbook to access to the www which means we spend too much time on tripadvisor looking at restaurants (when I let her) and a smart phone incase we need GPS (often on bikes in the middle of nowhere).

So no APPs, no reliance on computers, just use them in emergency. Basically we enjoy our hoidays together and the idea of a bucket list or a must do list sound like....WORK.

Packing list. Are you crazy.
1) How can you have so many clothes that you need to select
2) I always take from a pile of clothes that get thrown away on holiday, worn out, holes etc. I find not having to wash anything on return adds to the holiday
3) Mrs Bilbo just packs for the weather, she darns her clothes
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Old Aug 20th, 2014, 04:43 AM
  #17  
 
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I never have an itinerary so that's one thing not to stress about. Sure, I might have a few must-sees in mind, but I wait till I get to wherever I'm going to decide what to do on any given day, because the weather, my energy levels or unexpected places of interest might crop up and divert me from any pre-determined plan.

I have a packing list - not specific items of clothing as such - but to make sure that I remember less obvious stuff like chargers, adaptors, painkillers and so on. You can start this list months in advance if you want to as a prompt to buying stuff you need and spreading the cost.

I take one guide/phrase book only. Ever.

I print a copy of my travel insurance details and anything essential for the first day eg map or address of first night accomodation. Pretty much everything else can be worked out once you get there with the prevalence of wifi and 3G/4G these days.

I try to remember to phone my bank to let them know to expect international transactions. I don't always remember
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Old Aug 20th, 2014, 04:51 AM
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PS As mentioned above several times, a Kindle is a godsend because you are not adding to your baggage weight significantly, but have something that will carry all your reading material, and can access the web from if its one of the later generation models. I email every important document and link to myself so it's in Hotmail.
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Old Aug 20th, 2014, 07:03 AM
  #19  
 
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We now use TripIt...super easy and also works offline.
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Old Aug 20th, 2014, 07:09 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
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As far as flight itineraries, car reservations, train reservations, and hotel reservations go, I carry hard copies of each (as well as copies of my passport) in a folder as I would rather hand the clerk/agent a piece of paper than my phone. The folder goes in the computer compartment of my backpack.

By default, I have electronic copies in my gmail but I almost never need to consult it as the paper always works.
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