Using info from travel research?

Old Aug 5th, 1999, 11:30 AM
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Using info from travel research?

This is a general question. Starting with our first trip to London about 10 yrs ago through my planning our trip to Spain this fall, I have created "take-along" personal notebooks with necessary info (hotel addresses, phone #s, etc.) and info about things to see, restaurant suggestions etc.

I'm curious: how do you organize the mass of info available into useable quick- reference format for your actual trip? I'm assuming that most of us use at least one guide book plus this forum and other web sites for our trip info. Do you group it by location? by the day you plan to ...?

Any good tips on dealing with this material?

Old Aug 5th, 1999, 12:15 PM
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Three ring binders. No lie, I am an anal-retentive, obsessive-compulsive so I have to have EVERYTHING with me (I'm also the leader for the Travelling Loons and responsible for 4-10 women at any given time). Each day has a detailed itinerary, including subway routes or driving routes, opening times (including the days the sights AREN'T open), costs, and ONE restaurant per meal. If that restaurant doesn't work, then we just wander into any place that looks good.
I keep every letter, fax or email confirmation in the book. If there's an ad for "free whatever", THAT goes in the book too. Each day, I take out that day's stuff and put it in a 3-prong folder (I also like those protector sheets for maps, coupons, etc.).
Yeah yeah I've earned the title "Travel Nazi" and after a couple bottles of wine, the Loons make jokes about it... BUT, halfway through each trip (usually at the same dinner where the jokes are made) the question comes up "ok Elvira, where are we going NEXT?"
Old Aug 5th, 1999, 12:26 PM
dan woodlief
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When I went to Paris and Swizerland, I made sheets for each location. For example, for Paris, I photocopied a hi-lighted map of each area of Paris onto the top part of a piece of paper. On the bottom and back were typed details of what to see (including opening and closing times), what restaurants looked good, and any interesting shops. They worked pretty well, but I found that it was hard to stick to the itinerary once I was actually there. For Switzerland, the most useful thing I took were the train schedules that I printed out from the Deutsche Bahn web site for all routes that interested me. Really made it easy to plan from day to day without having to do it at the train station.
Old Aug 5th, 1999, 01:51 PM
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One thing I've learned the hard way: I always take *two* copies of a list of the addresses & phone numbers of where I'm staying, etc. (I often stay with private individuals and not just at hotels, which are easier to locate if you remember the name.) One's in my shoulder bag and one's in my backpack. That way if my shoulder bag gets ripped off again (or if my luggage gets lost) I won't be stuck.

One pretty obsessive thing I did that paid off was making a list of all the pastry shops and chocolate shops listed in Patricia Wells's Food Lover's Guide to Paris, annotating it with comments from friends, and keying it to the coordinates on the map of Paris that I was going to take with me. Then when I planned to go to a museum or someplace, I found its map coordinates, e.g., J7, and scanned the list for places nearby, e.g., in J6 or K7. If you can't be obsessive about chocolate, what can you be obsessive about?
Old Aug 5th, 1999, 04:02 PM
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I love the 3-ring binder idea! On my most recent trip I took small accordion-type file folders with all the vital information on each destination. They fit flat in the bottom of my suitcase. I would just pull out the one I needed. I put more info in them during the trip and now have them filed with my other travel stuff for future reference.
Old Aug 5th, 1999, 05:09 PM
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Elvira, you continue to be my hero!
Old Aug 5th, 1999, 05:11 PM
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I do all the things Elvira does (I'm in the AR club too), except for the notebooks. I made a one page spreadsheet with all the info and took it along every day. Came in very handy during the museum strike in Paris when we had to put a Plan B into action. We just substituted another day's itinerary instead.
Old Aug 6th, 1999, 12:35 AM
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Elvira amazes me; but I couldn't do that. My method is to put everything in the bag I carry with me, and every evening to plan the next day, discarding what has already been fully utilised. (That is, I keep it and pack it in the "going home" bag)

That way I get to plan every day and stay very flexible
Old Aug 6th, 1999, 03:43 AM
Mary Ann
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I had to laugh when I read Elvira's reply. I have this really big 3 ring binder for our trip this fall. We are planning a 3 week driving trip covering 10 locations. I have in it all my research, hotel comfirmations, maps to hotel locations, driving trip tics, road signs, fodor's forum printouts on restaurants, etc. One of the other people going could not believe it but it was the only way I could figure out to be organized (since I am planning most of it). I have no desire to take the "whole' book but I have yet to figure out the best way to compact it. Our itinerary with hotels, phone, fax, web and email numbers is on an excel spread sheet to carry easily and leave for relatives etc. But it is getting close so I really was interested in all the comments for compacting the balance along with travel books and the Europe atlas.
Old Aug 6th, 1999, 04:08 AM
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Some of what I do is similar to what Lynn does. For each city I make a one page itinerary sheet. It lists any of the pre-arranged commitments, by day,
(museum tickets, train tickets,
restaurant reservations),. It also lists very brief general info on the sites/sights,cafes/museums
I am interested in, when they are open and closed, and what area or metro stop they are near. Rather than a 3ring binder, I use a folder with pockets, one for each city. The folder contains the itinerary, tickets,hard copies of any confirmations I've received in case I need to prove something, the phone numbers and addresses of people I want to write to or call,and a few clippings on special events or other notes that are not in my guidebook. (I also paste or write notes in my guidebook). I keep my photcopy of my passport in the folder, a coded list of my credit card/ATM card numbers, a couple of extra paper clips, my little spiral notebook/travel diary, and a pen. I try to keep to one guidebook and one good map for each place. On my daily excursions the whole folder doesn't go with me; just the itinerary sheet, the map, and the guidebook. The pockets in the folder are handy for the matchbooks, postcards, and brochures I accumulate.
Old Aug 6th, 1999, 10:38 AM
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A lot of what is taken depends on location and the traveler.
For a long weekend in Paris alone, I just make a list of things-to-do (I usually work a theme like "bizarre museums" or "flea markets"). If it's a group, then I get more detailed (one person can fly by the seat of her pants; 6 girls - it gets hinky). If it's just me in some place that's brand new (say, a week in Prague), I would once again get very detailed.
So, anybody want to know how to make reservations at the Close Luce for lunch for a group? Need the fax number for Buckingham Palace? Want the directions from Monpazier to Chateau Jumilhac?
Old Aug 6th, 1999, 03:17 PM
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I organize by the day. I photo copy maps of each city, list/or photo copy what to do, restaurants, etc. In addition I have photo copies of hotel faxed reservations( just in case there is a problem). Each day's info is placed in an envelope. I have one day's envelope of info to carry around each day. At end of day, I throw away the envelope( except for reservations). Works for me...hope it helps you.
Old Aug 7th, 1999, 11:29 AM
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I take along all info (such as is listed in previous posts) in a file folder, and include an extra folder for daily use. Each evening I replace the days info with that for the following day. We carry the smaller folder with us each day, and have always been SO glad for all the info we have - especially all of the little known hints about wonderful sights, many from this forum.
Old Aug 7th, 1999, 05:16 PM
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I've learned to stay organized as I go. Always read with a highlighter in one hand and pad of tiny post-its in the other and transfer information to my PC as I go. 1) Large map, highlight all the places you want to visit, so you can organize your itinerary by area/town/neighborhood; 2) Calendar software - for entering your plans, hotel reservations and details, dinner reservations (before leaving, print the entire period on one sheet, daily on individual sheets); 3) Address Book software - dozens of fields for entering everything imaginable (in addition to the obvious, nearest metro station, days closed, admission prices, lots of notes in note field). In addition to addresses, you can add tips (for example, hold onto your metro ticket) and other information with corresponding titles. As you plan, your list can be sorted any which way (alphabetical, neighborhood, metro stop, town, etc.). A program with customizable reports is excellent for printing all sorts of useful lists. 4) Scanner with good software - with this you can scan your maps by town/neighborhood, then plot everything with precision - color coded/highlighted. I'm a fanatic, so I print my address list (by neighborhood) on the back of the corresponding map. That way, you have one piece of paper (well two, with your daily itinerary) to fold and stick in a pocket (or more if you think you'll cover more territory that day). I always take a small full sized map every day as well. I've found that maps scan best at Grayscale 300. If you don't have a lot of room on your hard drive and don't wear reading glasses, the default setting works fine.
Old Aug 7th, 1999, 07:19 PM
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I have put everything on 8.5x11 sheet two sided at rate of 1week/page using 3 column landscape format using 7pt arial font (I used to print using 6pt, but my sight must be getting weaker.) So the 4 week trip worth of info fits on 2 sheets of paper which fits in my shirt pocket. This includes all hotel/restaurant info, planned attractions, prices, names of tickets/passes in local language, opening hours, all train departure times, train numbers, and what I am supposed to get at each TI booths. I found that I can squeeze more/page using squeezed format WORD than using a spread sheet.
Old Aug 7th, 1999, 07:42 PM
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I generally take a lot of information, too -- bullet points from my guidebooks for easy reference, a list of restaurants, and Art History notes for the museums. I type these up and have the pages bound with thick cover stock paper for the front and back covers, so the pages will keep together. This is a lot lighter than carrying three-ring binders around. Any Kinko's can bind them for you.
Old Aug 8th, 1999, 09:03 AM
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I started out, when I first found Fodor's, by printing each topic that interested me. As a result I have reams of paper with a lot of extraneous information. Then the dawn,what a waste! Now I just highlight that portion of each topic that I want to save, copy it to Word Pad, and title and save it by city. When I leave on a trip (September) I just copy those cities I intend to visit. I've got a lot less paper now. I do this for any other website that gives me information I need.

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