For those of you who know me, it may come as no surprise that I’m a bit of a “type-A” personality. I love being organized. This is especially true when it comes to being both planning trips, as well as when I’m on a trip. It’s not that I want to run us ragged with some type of strict itinerary of scheduled activities, but because I want us to be able to kick back and actually enjoy the vacation. And as a result of my many years of travel and trip planning, I’ve come up with some pretty simple ways to stay organized while on the road. One way I do this is by creating a special travel itinerary template, which I also refer to as my “cheat sheet” for the trip.
My “Cheat Sheet” is an Extention of My Vacation Planning Itinerary Template
One of the very first things that I do when I’m planning a vacation is to research like crazy and gather information to come up with an awesome finalized trip itinerary. For this research and comparison, I actually use my Vacation Planning Template. You can download this FREE travel itinerary planning template by clicking on the link.
This Vacation Planning Template is actually an Excel spreadsheet (or Google Sheets if you want to convert to that). The spreadsheet has pre-built worksheets for me to gather ideas for my trip and pre-formatted fields. I can jot down notes, copy and paste different activity ideas, hotel ideas, etc. and even make a note of how much they cost. This actually helps me to keep a running track of the budget too.
Finally, I look at the different trip ideas on my vacation planning spreadsheet that I came up with and will narrow it down to a final trip itinerary.
Ok Liz, Isn’t That a Bit Much?
Yeah, yeah, some of you might be thinking this sounds a little much. But hey, I told you I’m a Type A! But honestly, it’s not that much work. I’m already doing the research (as many of your are). I’m searching around online, using Pinterest to get vacation ideas, etc. but this trip planning spreadsheet gives me one central and easy place to keep track of what I find online (because I always forget or lose links that I try to keep track of…).
Plus — I LOVE to travel…but I also like to get the most for my money.
I’m just a normal person and don’t have a money tree growing in my backyard. I save money for trips like most other people, and also want to be sure I maximize my budget during a trip as well. I also have to work, so I don’t have to maximize my time off work for travel . So planning out my trips like this has really allowed me (and my family) to see and do SO much over the years!
“Cheat Sheet” = a Condensed Travel Itinerary for the Road
After I have finalized the trip itinerary, it’s a detailed document. However, I realized that there was still a gap when I actually was on the trip and having quick access to simple information like confirmation numbers, subway lines to take, museum operating hours, hotel addresses, etc. I needed something handier for when I was “on-the-road” and on the go.
And that’s why I ended up creating the travel “Cheat Sheet” itinerary template.
A “Cheat Sheet” is More Than Just a Travel Itinerary Template
Keeping track of all the details related to a vacation can be overwhelming. Especially if it is a long or busy trip filled with multiple hotel bookings, transportation, and activities. After you have made your travel arrangements, you are bound to have endless emails and confirmation numbers to sort through.
That combined with your research and notes about the things you want to see and do on your trip can make being organized even more complicated. You need all this information nicely organized where you can access it easily when you need it.
This “Cheet Sheet” has helped myself and over tens of thousands of other travelers stay organized on the road!
Sometimes Nothing Beats a Good Ol’ Fashioned Piece of Paper!
Technology, especially mobile devices, have really helped travelers stay organized while on the road. In fact, one of our favorite travel apps that we use is called TripIt.
The TripIt app helps us consolidate a lot of our travel information and confirmation numbers into one place. This allows us to access it online or save it for viewing offline on our mobile devices. However, I have learned from my previous travel experience that using technology doesn’t always make things easier or quicker.
This is especially true when traveling overseas. I don’t always use my cell phone internationally, and even if I do, it may not be connected to a data network. Other times I may not want to draw attention to myself and my fancy technology while I’m walking down the street. In these cases, I’ve discovered that it’s easier to go old school, with an actual piece of paper!
Paper Confirmations Are Too Long!
You know all those emails you get with your confirmation numbers for hotels, rental cars, etc. They are great and all, but who really wants to print all that and bring it with them? Plus, those emails tend be long and include a lot of information that you may not need on the spot for a quick reference. In fact, if you were to print all of that information out, you would probably be walking around with a small book in your pocket!
This defeats the whole point of having a quick reference document because you would be fumbling around with all those papers trying to find just the simple confirmation number!
That’s why my “Cheat Sheet’ Travel Itinerary Template is only 1 page!
Items to Include on Your Travel Itinerary “Cheat Sheet”
There are all kinds of things you may find useful to put on your travel “Cheat Sheet.” But the most critical pieces of information to include are only those that you may need to reference quickly while you are on the go. So don’t overdo it by putting too much information. Keep it concise and easy to read. Some of the items I include in my “cheat sheet” include:
- Rough Itinerary – Don’t plan each minute! But it’s helpful to plan out major activities on each day, especially days when you are traveling.
- Hotel Information – confirmation numbers, addresses, contact information, prices & deposits paid (so you know what you owe on arrival), and possibly directions.
- Transportation Information – flight numbers, train / bus schedules, how to use local transportation and buy tickets, etc.
- Attractions – if there are certain sights that you absolutely want to see, make a note of their operating hours and days (because that might impact your itinerary), addresses, and prices (which will help with budgeting).
- Activities – anything that you have pre-booked, along with the confirmation numbers.
- Language Phrases – include a few simple phrases or notes about the language or even local customs.
Bring a Hard Copy of Your Travel Itinerary “Cheat Sheet” & Keep It Handy
My “cheat sheet” travel itinerary template is only one page. It is grouped into 4 sections so that I can easily fold it into quarters and stuff it in my pocket. Within the document itself, I group the information within each quarter section. This way when it is folded, each side has a table of similar information.
For example, one side of the page might have my overall itinerary for each day, while another side contains all my hotel information. I also color code the header of each page for each section. This makes it easy for me to find the page I need for whatever it is that I’m looking for.
Be sure to print out a few copies, and it is good to send an electronic copy to your email.
Lastly, this “cheat sheet” document is perfect for sharing with family and friends, in case they need to contact you while you are away!
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Download Your “Cheat Sheet” Travel Itinerary Template
It’s always tough to start out from scratch creating a planning document like this. And sometimes, it may not seem worth it to put in all the effort. But since I have already found a format that seems to work well, I wanted to share it here for all of you .
Your time is valuable.
So all I ask is that you buy me a small cup of coffee (.99 cents) for saving you the time and hassle of making it yourself.
I assure you that you will feel so much more organized during your trip, and not fumbling around with smartphones or trying to open emails while on the road.
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Photo Credit: All photos under CC 2.0 – edar, Unsplash, TheAndrasBarta, GotCredit, docentjoyce