I use Microsoft Word. I’m learning Apple Pages, and it looks as if it can do the job too. If it’s a good way to collect and organize words, and can do a Table of Contents, it’s good.

Get ready

You’ll need to: 

  • set up a system of folders, using a hierarchy suitable for your trip.
    For our Europe 2019, we used Overall / Country / City / Day. Don’t worry, you can re-structure as you go
  • set up a basic group of headings and subheadings. You’ll develop this over time. In a city, for example, you might have General, Sights, Hotels, Transport, Arrive-depart, Restaurants, …. 
  • each folder can have a subfolder called something like “Attic” where, just as in a house attic, this are is for things you might need later, but probably won’t. When you’ve selected a hotel, for example, all the rejected candidates can go in here (maybe delete the obvious losers first and just keep the good-but-didn’t-win
  • It doesn’t matter HOW you organize them as long as you do. If you don’t, you’ll waste time looking for stuff. 
  • know how to add hyperlinks – You do NOT want to clutter your plan with things like https://www.hotel-paris-printemps.com  and you definitely don’t want https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Hotel_Review-g187147-d501063-Reviews-Hotel_du_Printemps-Paris_Ile_de_France.html
  • know how to make bulleted lists
  • know how to make a Table of Contents, and remember to update it once in a while

What goes in the documents

For hotels, attractions, restaurants and more, I always want its website and whatever TripAdvisor has to say about it. 

For our Paris hotel, the entry started with: 

Hotel du Printemps  80, boulevard de Picpus  TA 4.5    

Later on we’ll look at what you need to document about each kind of place.
It will be at least the two links above plus address, opening hours, cost, transit access (general first, details later), and any notes you made while digging out the earlier items. 

How to take your plans with you

All that we have been talking about here can come with you for easy access during your trip.

Dropbox and other cloud services let you synchronize data between your desk computer, your mobile devices and a website. Most have a way–”Make available offline” or similar–to make sure your key data is available on your mobile device even when you don’t have a network connection. 

If you don’t want to be showing your iPad or whatever all the time, assemble your documents and maps in Word or Pages or whatever, and when you’re finished, resize the pages so you can print everything to fit in a 4×6 binder or 8.5×11 or whatever suits you. 

We often carry each day’s maps and touring plans in a clear plastic envelope (rainproof!) with the currently-active pieces on the two outside surfaces. Master plans go in another envelope that usually stays in our hotel. 

Of course we carry backups on a USB stick or camera card – but remember your adapters! – just in case. 

You could also get flashy and keep your plans on a website, but that can be harder to use offline and a tad slower to update. 

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