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

How to plan for a trip - 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)

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

How to plan for a trip - 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)

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:

  1. decide on the place and any travel partners (if applicable)
  2. decide on dates
  3. 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)
  4. 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)
  5. 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).

How to plan for a trip - 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)

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.

Overview

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.

Itinerary

Overview for the itinerary with one line per day, and then a bit more in depth after that.

Ideas

Any ideas that I have for the visit. Duh.

5. Save Booking Emails or PDFs

How to plan for a trip - 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)

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

CityMapper

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.

Google Maps

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.

How to plan for a trip - 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)

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

How to plan for a trip - 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)

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

How to plan for a trip - 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)

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

How to plan for a trip - 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)

For a road trip, link to the Google Maps directions

How to plan for a trip - 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)

Include Costs for a budget holiday

How to plan for a trip - 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)

Link for more information

How to plan for a trip - 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)

Do you have any tips for planning trips? I’d love to hear them!

Pin It on Pinterest