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Trip planning/ app to consolidate info from books, TA, etc?

New Orleans, LA
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275 posts
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Trip planning/ app to consolidate info from books, TA, etc?

I will be traveling to London, Paris and southern France with DH and 4 kids in May & June. I'm gathering lots of useful info from multiple sources: guidebooks, TA and various friends and websites. I'm going to plan a proposed itinerary and then we'll adjust on the go, as appropriate.

I would like to put together a small file of some sort on each neighborhood. For example, for the Ile de la Cite/Ile St. Louis day I would include operating hours at Notre Dame, tips on which entrance to use, where to go and what to see when we're inside, recommended restaurants, helpful hints about a lovely walk nearby, etc. I'd like to do the same for each of the various neighborhoods we'll visit and have them accessible so that if we decide to go to, say, Montmartre for the day my info will be at my fingertips.

Another Mom on TA mentioned that she did this in hard copy form with a sheet or two per neighborhood. I like a hard copy and would also like to be able to input the data on my desktop at home then access it on my ipad or iphone (we'll be traveling with a couple of these) .

Does anyone have a good system for organizing all of the valuable info that is available and then accessing it?

New Hampshire
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for Paris
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1. Re: Trip planning/ app to consolidate info from books, TA, etc?

There are two programs (among others) I've been using for many years which I find invaluable for travel.

One is E-Wallet, where you can store credit card info, web login/password info, travel insurance info, etc. There's a desktop version that synchronizes with your device. Data is encryted and password protected. (I've been using this program for many years, so also have all model/serial number/warranty information, customer support, for everything I own and all sorts of other valuable information.)

Another is List-Pro. This also has a desktop application which synchronizes with your device. It's a spreadsheet sort of program, but much more intuitive, easy to set up, completely customizable. You can add unlimited columns and sort by any column. Handy for dining, shopping, sights, nightlife, along with addresses, phone numbers, nearest metro stop, neighborhood, opening hours, etc. I copy and paste into the program (quick/easy and eliminates chance of typos). So, for example, while out and about, you can easily determine restaurants you've collected nearby wherever you happen to be. Among many nifty features, when you tap on an entry, it displays in list format (easier to read than across the street). You could have separate lists for various categories, but I keep everything in one file.

The trick is to copy/paste information into your programs as you go and not save it all to do later.

Fairbanks, Alaska
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2. Re: Trip planning/ app to consolidate info from books, TA, etc?

The two travel planning programs that I use the most are TripIt and Google Maps.

TripIt can be accessed either online or through an app on your iphone/ipad. It is free (but there is also a "pro" version.) TripIt has several great features. You create a trip and can consolidate all your confirmations on one page (just forward the confirmation e-mails to plans@tripit.com or input them manually). I love that feature because then I know that all my plane and train arrivals mesh with my hotel arrivals and departures. Tripit also allows you to "file" websites within each trip -- like bookmarking them, but you can add notes and you can access them from any computer. For our France trip, I consolidated all our confirmations in a "France" trip and but I also created other trips (without any confirmation info) for all my website information, since there is so much of it -- one trip called Paris info, one for Loire Valley, etc.

TripIt also monitors flights. Three days before we left for Hawaii, TripIt notified me that the schedule for our connecting interisland flight had changed (the airline never notified me). I called the airline and was able to switch to a flight that was better for us than the re-scheduled one. It was much nicer to do this in advance over the phone than to discover the change at the airport and stand in a long line to try to fix it.

The TripIt "pro" service costs about $50 per year. I've already saved more than that because TripIt notifies you if air fare drops. (I don't recall if this feature only comes with the pro service.) Last month I purchased a ticket and the same evening TripIt notified me that the fare had dropped $85; I was able to get a refund from the airline.

As you can tell, I think that TripIt is the best trip planning tool ever!

With Google Maps, I create my own maps with markers for various sights, restaurants, markets, etc. Once places are marked on your own map, it is easy to see how close they are, whether they are on the same metro line, etc. For example, we are spending our first 3 days in Paris near the Eiffel Tower, then going to Provence and the Loire, and then returning to stay for 9 days on Ile de la Cite. Having the Google maps made it easy to visulaize the places that will be more convenient to see when we are staying in the 7th arr. Also, I created a separate Google map for each of our museum pass days, so we can visit places that are close together and don't spend unnecessary time criss-crossing Paris. You can also add short notes (store hours, for example) on Google maps.

Hope this helps!

New Orleans, LA
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275 posts
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3. Re: Trip planning/ app to consolidate info from books, TA, etc?

Thanks to you both. These are great suggestions and I am going to have fun trying them out!

New Orleans, LA
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275 posts
11 reviews
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4. Re: Trip planning/ app to consolidate info from books, TA, etc?

DJKbooks, if you're out there, I have a quick question about List-Pro. Once you sign up, is there a tutorial or some way to learn how to set up custom lists? I'm thinking that this might be the way to organize my info but I'm guessing I'll have to create my own system. Do you think it will be relatively easy to master the program to create, for example, a list on each day's travel with sublists, etc.? I'm envisioning one on each area with restaurants including phone numbers and addresses, sights including hours and tips on what to see, and other relevant info. Does that sound like something the average bear can figure out on List Pro?

Thanks for your help.

New Hampshire
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for Paris
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5. Re: Trip planning/ app to consolidate info from books, TA, etc?

My instinct was to create separate lists, but I found it much better to have only one master list.

For what you have in mind, you'd simply create a "Neighborhood" column. Then, sort your list by neighborhood. The good reason for this is you can easily find anything without having to know/remember which neighborhood.

When you start a new list, a "Wizard" walks you through the set-up process. If you don't get it quite right or want to make changes, it's easy to make modifications.

My Paris list has the following columns: What (dining, shopping, sights, music, nightlife, walking, market, to do, etc., for categories), *** (I use *, **, *** to "prioritize), Place (Name of Place), Address, Phone, Arrond/Neighborhood, Hours, Open (ex. Daily, Tue-Sun), Closed (Sunday lunch, Monday), Bus (Route & Stop), Day (if designated on my itinerary), Time (along with day, for restaurant reservations, walking tours, etc.), Prices (admission cost, menu prices), Link (website), Notes.

So, if it's Wednesday and I want to go to a market, I sort the one list by What (to group markets). You could do a secondary sort for "Day", but it's easy to open the first Market destination, scroll through with "next" to determine those open on Wednesday.

I make it a habit to scroll through the entire list routinely to fill in information I may have omitted.

If you had separate lists for each neighborhood, you'd have to look in each for markets open on Wednesday.

Again, I wouldn't have each day's destinations on separate lists, rather have a Day column on the one list.

You don't really need "sub lists" as you can sort the one master list by any column, then another, instantly.

I do use this in conjunction with my calendar program, which is useful for viewing or printing daily, three day, weekly, etc., itineraries - or a list of all upcoming "events".

Florida
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6. Re: Trip planning/ app to consolidate info from books, TA, etc?

The List-Pro sounds good, haven't seen that but will go look.

For something to have printed to carry with you I do this -

Over the months of planning and internet reading, I build a Word document organized basically with:

- trip details (the logistics piece) confirmations, planes, trains, etc

- brief daily itinerary

- one paragraph descriptions of each planned sight /museum/ etc in the same order as would be placed into the daily itinerary

- miscellaneous other (important phone numbers, how to dial a US cell phone program from a European country to a US number or a European number!, basic currency chart, etc

When the Word document is 'finished' I put it into the 2-page per sheet landscape format, clean it up as needed, print it, cut the pages in half, put them in page number order, take them to Kinkos and have them spiral-bound. The booklet is then both my 'guidebook' and a great souvenir after the trip, and fits into a purse for reference while out and about. The document could be saved as a .pdf file to store on your phone or iPad also.

I think it would be a lot to convert from a stack of random notes, pages, emails, internet pages to such a document at the last minute, though.

New Orleans, LA
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7. Re: Trip planning/ app to consolidate info from books, TA, etc?

Thanks, Travelnutty. I like the binding idea, plus it's probably small enough to put in my bag. Fortunately, I have a few months to get this all done!

New Orleans, LA
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275 posts
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8. Re: Trip planning/ app to consolidate info from books, TA, etc?

djk, do you ever print your list? Is it possible from List-Pro?

New Hampshire
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for Paris
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9. Re: Trip planning/ app to consolidate info from books, TA, etc?

Yes, you can print from ListPro.

I print it only to check for missing data I should fill in.

Out and about, printed sheets are just not necessary.

It's easier to find something on the device than look for it on printed sheets, anyway.

On the device, since you can sort by any column, it's so easy to peruse dining options, sights, what you have planned for Tuesday, etc.

Now, you'd be lost without your device! But, I synchronize my phone with my netbook, so always have the file both places.

New Hampshire
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for Paris
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10. Re: Trip planning/ app to consolidate info from books, TA, etc?

I would just note that I'm a huge software junkie and have experimented with many programs over the years.

With a smartphone and netbook, I rely less and less on printed materials and more and more on software with "features".

One huge advantage of ListPro (just as an example) is that you're not so likely to omit critical details.

I've kept and (attempted to) organize notes every which way.

For sure, my top tip would be to copy and paste information into some document, as you find it. You can always pare it down later, which is much easier than assembling web "favorites", printing all sorts of stuff, then attempting to retrieve/organize it later.

Again, with the smartphone, I use the calendar program in conjunction with ListPro.

Until some years ago, I stuck with the "booklet" method, but finally gave that up because it's never "done" ahead of printing, and once printed, you are forever trying to or, worse, unable to find what you've looking for.