TOOLS I USE TO PLAN MY TRIPS

Now that I’ve been rambling about my trips for quite some time, it came to a point where I feel I should/can share tips on how I plan my trips with you.

To me, it’s all about planning. Not just because it is a smart thing to do, but because the anticipation of the trip itself is already making me all excited. After all, holiday itself can go by in a blink of an eye, but the excitement that builds up before the trip is what gets you going up until you can actually complete your travel.

Which travel planning tools do I use to make the process easier?

This is something that my partner and I had to invent and develop as the complexity and length of our trips evolved with time. Due to the fact that we travel on a limited vacation length that our jobs allow, we cannot really enjoy the luxury of ‘go with a flow‘ to its full extent. That’s where planning comes in.

The planning tools we use are very basic and personal to us, but I am going to share them with you just in case you’ll find it useful and suited for your needs as well. I cannot do any planning without 2 essential things: calendar and a map.

1. Google Sheets

I use Google Sheets a lot when I plan my trips. This is a space where I throw in all the stuff I find on the internet which I want to look into later. For example, hotels that I liked on Booking.com or AirBnb, list of places I think are worth a visit and why, visa application requirements, if any, where are we staying and when. It looks something like this: google-sheets

The best thing about Google Sheets, is that you can access it from your mobile phone even if you have no internet connection. Just make sure that you are making the document available offline on your app.

2. Calendar

For me personally, this is a MUST HAVE when I plan my trips.

You can use Google calendar or do like I’ve done: find any calendar document on the web and paste it into your Google Sheet.

So, how do you make use of a calendar? I am showing the example of our trip to Asia last year. Excuse me for the messiness, but I wanted to show you what it looks like in real life when you plan in a hurry 🙂google-sheets-calendar

Basically, different countries are marked with different colors to clearly see where we have the change of scene. All of the most important information about flight and bus departures as well as hotel bookings are listed here. Once that’s done, you can start filling in the activities so that you can track what you’re going to be doing which days and which days you have for relaxation (this is very important as well!)

3. Maps

Oh yes, now we are coming to my favorite part. Did I not mention that I am a map freak? Love them and can’t live without them. If they made maps pajamas I’ll probably own one 🙂

Anyways, if you plan a trip with a lot of moving around, like a road trip, you’ll need the map to see how to move between destinations and how much time it’s going to take. Now, you have two options here as well:

  1. You can use our online friend Google Maps that will dutifully show you exactly how much time you should expect to get from one point to another. If you’re traveling in a developed country, google can even show you which public transportation is the best to use.google-maps
  2. If you are a ‘handy’ type like me, you’d love to have something more tangible. At least for the planning purposes, I like to have a map printed out so that I could draw and point and plan on it.

4. Travel Notebook

Now, if you are real old school and like to doodle like I do, there is a need for you to have your very own travel notebook. No matter how much technology I have, I still love to write everything down with my hands, make it colorful and fun.travel-notebook-budgetThat is why I combined all the features I used electronically into a nice little travel notebook that I could take with me on a trip. It has space for writing down expenses as you go, yearly calendar and most importantly – monthly trip planner that I cannot live without. This is my handy paper version of google sheets calendar.

If you are in the early stage of planning your trip, you might also like to check out my article on 5 WAYS TO GET CHEAP FLIGHTS


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Do you have your own special trip planning habits? Share them in the comments below!

21 comments… add one
  • Anisa 03 Dec 2016, 3:09 pm

    I use Google sheets too. I love that everyone can access it and update it in real time. We usually create a folder and upload pdfs of any relavant docs/tickets so that everything is all in one place.

    • Lena 03 Dec 2016, 9:38 pm

      Anisa, that’s not a bad idea either!

  • Eva | Travel The Whole Wide World 04 Dec 2016, 9:51 pm

    Hi Lena! I never really used google sheets, just as it never really crossed my mind, I guess. I can totally see now, why you do though. Usually, I rely a lot on apps like the Lonely Planet Guide Book app or Hostelworld and stuff like that. Most of them help me plan and keep my plans saved so I can look up directions. I did a blog post on that a couple of weeks ago, if you would like to check it out: http://travelthewholewideworld.com/most-helpful-free-travel-apps/

    Eva | Travel The Whole Wide World recently posted…Nomination for a Liebster AwardMy Profile

    • Lena 04 Dec 2016, 10:18 pm

      Hi Eva,
      I use those as well, but I just need a place to keep it all together, I guess:) Anyways, thanks for sharing!

  • Lucy 12 Dec 2016, 11:40 am

    I love this! I’ma a little old school too and love to be able to properly write on stuff, but I never thought to print off a nice Google Maps sheet – I’ll definitely be doing that for my next trip!

    L
    Lucy recently posted…The Pregnancy Diaries: 19 WeeksMy Profile

    • Lena 12 Dec 2016, 9:30 pm

      I am all about drawing things all over the place, especially on maps, haha! Helps me a lot to know geography once I am already on the spot.
      Lena recently posted…SO YOU WANT TO MOVE TO DENMARK?My Profile

  • Melai 01 Feb 2017, 11:31 am

    Easy tools and these can easily be found anywhere. I always use maps too, it helps me plan my next trip and identify prospects for side trips. Calendar is a must especially because I work full time and only travel around my annual leaves and holidays. 🙂
    Melai recently posted…Hotel Highlight: Our Dreamy Cabin in IcelandMy Profile

    • Lena 01 Feb 2017, 7:06 pm

      Same here, I care about my deserved vacation dates very much 🙂

  • Nicky 01 Feb 2017, 12:10 pm

    Great article, sometimes it can be quite overwhelming once you start the research can’t it? We use all of the above in one form or another, I’m old school, so like to use a leather notebook specifically for the purpose! We very often find ourselves having to plan two or three different countries all at once (we travel full time) so organisation is definitely the key!

  • Anna 01 Feb 2017, 1:11 pm

    Damn, this is professional ! I only use a travel notebook from Mr. Wonderful… Bravo!

    • Lena 01 Feb 2017, 6:05 pm

      haha, maybe you are right and I am overdoing it. I frequently meet some travelers on the way who just play it by ear and they do just fine as well.

  • Samantha 01 Feb 2017, 2:34 pm

    These are such good tips! I really love that notebook you use!! I am also going to utilize Google maps more so I can plan out from place to place. I head to Vietnam and Cambodia next month so this will be great!
    Samantha recently posted…Weekend Getaway in Seoul: Hotel Maui DDMMy Profile

    • Lena 01 Feb 2017, 5:52 pm

      That notebook was made by me:) Happy to hear you liked it, good luck on your travels!

  • Sonja 01 Feb 2017, 5:20 pm

    I love your trip planner it’s so cute!!! I normally write everything down old school style haha. And print maps too!

    • Lena 01 Feb 2017, 5:43 pm

      I am with you, girl! I take some sort of pleasure in trip anticipation when I plan stuff:)

  • Becky the Traveller 01 Feb 2017, 7:17 pm

    I’m a total planner for my trips but always use Excel so I think I wil try out Google Sheets, thanks very much for the tips 🙂
    Where is your next adventure?

    • Lena 02 Feb 2017, 8:51 am

      You’re welcome! The next big one is Australia, as you can see on the pics 😀 Can’t wait.

  • Natasha Atlas 02 Feb 2017, 12:48 am

    Wow! You’re so organised!!! I use to be but my anxiety was gotten too much so I just wing it when I get there! Which sounds odd and the reverse of what you should do lol great blog! X

  • Stella the Travelerette 02 Feb 2017, 2:35 am

    I am the same way about planning! I always want to get as much done as I possibly can do that means planning ahead. I haven’t thought of Google Sheets! Great idea!
    Stella the Travelerette recently posted…A Perfect Travel Itinerary for the Hill Country in TexasMy Profile

  • Stephanie Fox 02 Feb 2017, 11:05 am

    This is so much like me its unreal! I’m a planner too but not quite so organised! Will definitely be stealing your calendar idea, and I think I need to invest in a pretty notebook I currently use notes.

  • BONNITA ALUOCH 02 Feb 2017, 5:05 pm

    I have tried on countless occasions to us tools to plan my trips but boy…I fail miserably! I use mental notes a lot. I think I will give it one last shot. And give your suggestions a try too!

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