Europe has turned me into a travel animal. I currently have all the freedom (thanks, entrepreneurship), and all the places (thanks, Europe tininess). I’ve been doing a lot of trips. As a creative person, this is wonderful. As a perfectionist, this has the grand opportunity to be stressful. But I have Evernote. This is how I manage to go on spontaneous weekend vacations, or month long adventures and still manage to be in the moment and not go crazy (or be deported).
1. Maintain a Travel notebook stack in Evernote
I have four Evernote notebooks related to traveling.
- Upcoming Trips – titled with an underscore to make sure it’s at the top. In this notebook is only trips that will be happening within a month.
- Archived Trips – trips that have been planned for and passed (saved as reference for when we visit the place again)
- Future Travel – plans for travel happening within the year, or that have a few things already booked
- Travel Ideas – any ideas for travel that can be acted upon (included in there are notes on UNESCO sites in Europe, places with their distance from where we are, opportunities for day trips, a list of castles in Germany, and interesting AirBNB places)
2. Start an Evernote note
I always start my trip labels with the starting date, it’s the easiest way for me to refer to or quickly find them. Usually it just gets the name, but since I was meeting someone pretty fantastic, I included her name in there.
3. Decide on details
My trip booking process is usually:
- decide on the place and any travel partners (if applicable)
- decide on dates
- brainstorming for possible itineraries and which makes the most sense if we’re doing more than one place (this involves staring at Google Maps and figuring out the most efficient route)
- transport (I use SkyScanner to find the cheapest options for flying, Rome2Rio if I’m unsure of the best method of transport, and Deutsche Bahn online for train tickets)
- accommodation (with AirBNB, almost exclusively)
4. Add Basic Details to the Note
As I make decisions, they are added to the note with as much detail as possible (but not overwhelmingly so).
A Thin Image at the Top
At the top of the note to make it fancy, I include the panorama image from Wikivoyage. Since I had already been to Paris and used that image before, I found a lovely sketchbook image of Paris and used that.
Accomodation. Transport. Anything important (in this case, V’s cellphone number).
I put the exact details for the train or flight because that’s the most important to me.
Overview for the itinerary with one line per day, and then a bit more in depth after that.
Any ideas that I have for the visit. Duh.
5. Save Booking Emails or PDFs
Use Evernote’s Clipper for this and save it directly as a note. Then delete the email cause you don’t need that anymore.
6. Do a Bit of Research
When I travel, I like to get the “feel” for a place, rather than check off all the big touristy places. I like drinking coffee, sketching, and people watching. I like to wander the small streets. I also really like planning. I have never been to most of the places I put down in my ideas, but googling a place and exploring it that way is almost as fun as the trip itself.
My favourite places to figure out what to do (in order):
7. Download Apps
If I’m in a big city that has public transport (Paris, Berlin, London, Brussels, Rome, Barcelona), I will download CityMapper. That app helps you decide which is quicker – walking, metro, or catapult.
For walking around and getting a feel of the place
Spotted by Locals
If Spotted by Locals has a guide for the city, it’s going to be coming with me. The guides are written by local people only, and include the BEST travel tips I’ve ever read. It’s how I found out about the best view in Paris.
PS: I was alone when I took this shot.
8. Screenshot Important Bits
I’m not always guaranteed cellphone reception, and even though my Evernote notebooks are available offline, I can’t take the risk. If I don’t think I’m going to have cellphone battery, I’ll put the very important bits in my travel journal too.
GO ON HOLIDAY AND ENJOY EVERY SECOND OF IT
See how happy I am? That’s cause I’m not stressed about the details. Visit tiny shops, spend time in cafes, wander, get lost, and know that when you forget where you’re staying, or you’re not sure of the platform your train arrives at… you have it all in Evernote.
Don’t forget to Archive once you get back
To save your sanity, put your trip note into the Archived notebook. If you’d like to keep your tickets as reference, add them to the bottom of the note. I liked seeing how much more I paid for my Paris train ticket that I booked three days before the time compared to the one I booked last year in advance.
A Look Into Archived Trips (and some extra planning tips)
The archived trips become a sort of memory keeping form. I wish I had have started this process in 2013, but I only found a need for it for my first trip to Paris since I was going alone. Here are some tips from other trips:
For a bigger trip, create a calendar
For a road trip, link to the Google Maps directions
Include Costs for a budget holiday
Link for more information
Do you have any tips for planning trips? I’d love to hear them!
The Best Physical Productivity Tools for Your Cash Money
A good journal and good pen
Yep. This is all. I use this in a variety of ways.
The Best Digital Productivity Tools for Your Cash Money
The ultimate hub. Absolutely everything I need to do goes in there and that’s the only way it works.
I use this as an external harddrive for my brain. It’s also really great for creativity.
I archive everything there and only keep things I’m actively working on within my computer.
And that’s my super simple list. I speak about them in depth in Level Up, but really, it’s all about how hard you work at it.
Everything Notebooks are not pretty, and they are not decorated. They are your brain on paper. I talk about them in Level Up and how to really get the most of them, but briefly, they’re better than one million other categorised notebooks for the following reasons:
- no barriers to writing – you no longer miss out on writing because you don’t have the “correct” notebook
- freedom and creativity – when you stop looking for the perfect notebook, you realise you can be beautifully imperfect, and that’s where the magic comes alive
- ability to keep it on you – it’s far easier to keep one notebook on you instead of ten. Duh.
- archival quality – if you put an index in your journal then you can find the thing you were looking for way easier than going through a bunch of books
- good view of your life – when I go back through my Everything Notebooks, it’s like a diary and I know exactly who I was at that point of time. It’s really lovely seeing everything that was important to me at that point in time.
Sometimes it’s tough to figure out exactly what should go into an Everything Notebook. “Everything” is such a vast, intimidating term. And so, I’ll show you…
To Do Lists and Brain Vomits
This is the number one way I use my Everything Notebook. Getting shit out of my head and onto paper. Once it’s out I can work through it, but I can’t do much with it sitting in my brain.
Extreme Brain Vomits
There are very few things quite as therapeutic as these.
Some of my lists are silly, some are written like a journal, and some are literally life changing.
Notes to Self
Putting pen to paper makes things real. Yes, I’m still talking to myself, but
Kind of like talking to myself.
Some days I journal my heart out, and sometimes it’s about how much sitting on a tree trunk in a dress sucks.
Tiny bit in the bottom right. Keeping track of my finances is not important to me (sorry, T and Lauren. Promise I’m trying to prioritise).
I’m really rubbish at the writing part of blogging, but when I put pen to paper the words flow much quicker.
This is one of my favourite ways. Once I’m done I will scan the images into Evernote to keep as reference. It’s also really nice to go back on because why shouldn’t you treat your life and self improvement like your courses in university? Always be learning.
Doodling and Lettering
Even when I’m bad at it.
Cooking and Grocery Shopping
SO many grocery lists.
Obviously notebook size is super important to me. It’s great to see them visually like this.
I process my thoughts in this way usually when I’m depressed. It helps me to be active and it helps me to prevent the overwhelming feeling of being alive.
I was using this when I was working for a corporate computer company way back in 2011. Either drawing one in or printing it out is a great way to see the month at a glance.
Paper and pen allows so much more creativity than fingers and keyboard.
The “comic” on the right was written to try give myself some humour and distraction while my husband was in theatre having his kidney stones removed. It kind of worked.
Leuchtturm comes with one, but if yours doesn’t, just add them to the bottom and fill up the Index as you go along.
I’m excited for my current 2016 one…
I’ve since stopped using themed notebooks and you’ll see why next week, but there’s no doubting that a well-themed notebook is oh so pretty. Here is a look into four of mine.
The New Home Notebook
The Etsy Shop Notebook
The To Do Lists Notebook
The Blog Notebook
There are more photos of the blog notebook here.
Themed notebooks are really, really pretty and great for the type of person who likes compartmentalising. BUT every single one of my themed books are completely empty at the end. I wasn’t able to be free in my writing and felt constrained by lack of space that had been planned in advance. The number one problem with these was that there was SO MUCH that went unwritten. I didn’t have the appropriate journal next to me, and so I’d give up before starting.
Next week I’ll show you how I fixed the problem.
If you know me a little bit, you’ll know I’m obsessed with Moleskine. Even while living in South Africa when they first arrived at Exclusive Books and they were at the peak of their expensiveness, I loved them. I was loyal. At the beginning of 2015 I had a falling out with Moleskine’s online store. The customer service was so atrocious that I swore to ignore my 70 something large Moleskine collection, and start afresh with a new brand. I hate bad customer service.
I purchased eight of the strongest Moleskine competitors that I knew from /r/notebooks and the rest of the internet. I figured that I had actually never given another premium brand notebook a real chance because of my Moleskine blinkers, and that this would be a good chance to see what I was missing out on.
This is good for you, because obviously I documented my thoughts.
Spoiler alert: the Moleskine re-won my heart. There was no real competition to those minimalist black covers and soft pages. But now I know. And so I’ll just be purchasing via Amazon from now on.
Ultimate Favourite Notebook: Moleskine
Why I’m brand loyal to Moleskine:
- smooth paper
- the Classic
- minimalist design and consistency
- cover options (although I only use black hardcover, Kraft cahiers, and Khaki soft cover Moleskines)
- size options (I love the A4 for brainstorming, the Extra Large for my Everything Notebook, the Large for art journaling, and the Pocket for travelogues and art journaling)
- paper options for different needs (watercolour [wet mediums], sketchbook [thin acrylic], regular [planning], thinner [Cahier])
Moleskine Pen Test
Second Favourite Notebook: Leuchtturm
For a long time I thought that Leuchtturm would be my new notebook. It’s pretty much a German Moleskine with page numbers. The cover also lies closer to the pages, the service is amazing, and they had gold limited edition journals. The journal comes with stickers for archiving, an index page, and space for the date at the top. Other than that, again, a Moleskine. The only thing they don’t have that Moleskine does is City Notebooks (which I love), and photobooks.
Leuchtturm Pen Test
Creative Fave: Midori Traveler’s Notebook
The First Moleskine I Dislike: The Chapters Notebook
I thought I’d love this because of its Traveler Notebook size. I’d made my own journals and mini books in this size and adored it. As it turns out, the Chapters notebooks are horribly bad quality (falling apart at the sewn seams), have weird colours and weird chapter dividers, and just generally really difficult to like.
The Nerdori that I housed mine in (before giving up and throwing it away) is really gorgeous though.
Special Mention: Seasons Planner
My friend, Nina is both my favourite watercolourist and designer. She has a flair for minimalism that steals my heart. I love her Seasons notebook. I love the idea of having a notebook for a season and purpose. Unfortunately, I don’t think she still sells the physical journals, but perhaps if you beg her.
Mixed Feelings: Hobonichi Techo 2016
See my full review.
Great Quality and Size (but not for me): Bandit Apple
Bandit Apple is a freaking amazing company in Seoul that used a Google Form to collect requests for samples. The price basically covers postage. You can order through that form. The paper is really high quality, so is the stitching, and it’s fountain pen ready.
Bandit Apple Pen Test
I tried using, but couldn’t: Baron Fig
I really love the look of the Baron Fig (hello, Grey), and I really love the story behind it (hello, Kickstarter). I wanted this journal to be for me. Oh I really tried. But, I do not like the paper. It felt rough on my fine liner.
Baron Fig Pen Test
Beautiful Paper, but just too ugly: Rhodia
The Rhodia paper is unmatched. It’s even softer than Moleskine. But that cover was so cheap looking, shiny and slimy, and so uncomfortable looking to me.
Rhodia Pen Test
Nice Concept: Whitelines
Whitelines was created to make scanning gridded text easier. No black lines to make it difficult. There are Leuchtturm and other journal options, but I was interested in the paper and this was the cheapest option. Still not for me.
Whitelines Pen Test
In the end, journal opinions come down totally to personal taste. Moleskine is not perfect. It’s only perfect for me. What journal do you use? Which ones have you tried to use but just couldn’t?
You asked for it. A whole bunch of you asked for this, in fact. Whether you’ve been trying to decide if Level Up is for you, or if you’re just a quizzy lizzy, here are some peeks behind the curtain and into the Level Up class. You are able to click on the image for a larger view, but I’ve blurred out any content so you’re not going to see everything.
After logging in, you’re taken to the dashboard. This is the hub. You can get most places from here.
Resources – My Little Rainbow Coloured Book
Playlists – For Getting Things Done
Levels – The Lesson Directory
Typical Level Intro
There are still a few secrets around the site that I’m not going to show you, and just let you discover them for yourself.
Thank you for letting me share this with you. If this seems like just your type of thing, it’s still available for enrollment.