Make a Travel Document For Your Trip to Stay Organized
When we were kids, there wasn’t much Internet for residential customers, so our parents had to plan trips the old-fashioned way. They visited a travel agent for airline tickets, checked a AAA guidebook for hotels and asked friends who had been to our prospective destination what to see there. In the weeks leading up to a vacation, Mom and Dad carried around a folder stuffed like Costanza’s wallet with all of the information they had collected and deemed pertinent for the big family trip, such as hotel telephone numbers, brochures and hand-drawn maps to restaurants we just had to try. All of this seemed to work pretty well, and our parents put together some pretty memorable trips without a computer.
Nowadays, every aspect of the trip planning process can be done on online. Buying plane tickets (hard to remember any other way to buy tickets, isn’t it?), finding a hotel to stay at, reserving a room at that hotel, finding restaurants to eat at, checking reviews posted by people who just ate there, figuring out where that museum is in relation your hotel, reading about a show and perhaps buying tickets for it, looking at a metro map and converting your currency (wait, how many Kroners in a dollar?) can all be done on a Sunday morning on your deck with your pajamas on and a cup of coffee in hand. How did any of this get done before computers? L&A first started traveling internationally in 2002, and we planned that trip online and every trip since.
As the trip planning progresses, you collect more and more information. With each hotel reservation and airline ticket, there is a confirmation email sent to you that has all of the information you need. You have maps showing where the airport shuttle bus is and how to get from the station to your hotel. You have the opening hours and admission prices and metro stops for all of the museums you want to go to and you even have a translation of a tapas menu. You have all of this data, so what do you do with it? Make a trip document. This master document is a day-by-day itinerary that you created that is customized to your trip. It includes:
- Departure airport information such as how you getting there, how much it costs and what time you have to leave your house.
- Flight information from your confirmation emails
- Arrival airport information such as location of the tourist information center and ATMs (not cambios!), how to get from the airport to your hotel (train, bus or taxi) and the cost of each.
- Hotel information from your confirmation emails
- The sights, museums, restaurants, shops and everything else you want to see, do, eat and drink. Include their hours, cost and not just the address, but how to get there. Try to schedule places that are close together on the same day to save valuable transit time, but remember to look at which days of the week that museum or restaurant is closed, or you will end up retracing your steps.
- Public transportation information including metro maps and how to buy tickets
- Walking maps, floor plans and anything else you think will be relevant, including your own notes and advice from friends (and this blog).
Collecting all of this information and putting it in one convenient place is called making a travel document. As the planning progresses, things can be added or deleted, but they will always be organized and will make the planning of your trip and your actual trip more enjoyable.
Know Before You Go
Trip planning takes time, so make a trip document to organize your information to ensure that all that time is not wasted. Put the document in the cloud, but remember, there will be times you don’t have internet access, so be sure to print off a copy before you leave.
A trip document will help you maximize your travel time and travel dollars.