Evernote for Travel

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Last night I shared some of my tips for using Evernote to plan a trip or vacation at the Kuala Lumpur Evernote user meetup. The meetup was held in conjunction with DiGi who are announcing some interesting collaborations with Evernote next week – you heard it here first

Embedded above are my slides from my session (Evernote for Travel on Scribd), and here is a recap of my talk. I made the majority of the slides by drawing them out with Penultimate. Since the app was acquired by Evernote and integrated into its database, I’ve found it useful to replace scraps of paper on my desk. The best thing is that my jottings, phone numbers, etc are searchable within Evernote now. Enough waffling, time to dive into travel tips for Evernote!

Checklists

Every trip involves 1 thing – checklists. I avoid repetition as much as possible, so I save template checklists as notes in my Evernote Checklists notebook. In it I have packing lists which I modify for each trip, e.g. sometimes I need my passport, sometimes I don’t. Or you can create different checklist for different types of trips – short trip, overseas trip, or business trip. Also useful is a house prep list for things like stopping the newspaper, set lighting timers, etc. Evernote also allows you to insert checkboxes into your notes, which is very useful to see progress of your checklist at a glance.

Research

The next thing I use Evernote for when planning trips is research. This is where Evernote excels. I compile information on attractions, transit information, hotel and flight options and anything else that may be of use. I can also save info from travel books and brochures by snapping a photo of them. Evernote’s photo recognition will make the text in the photo searchable. Best. Feature. Ever! When planning a trip with my wife, I can share a notebook with her. Now she can save her own notes into the notebook too.

As an Evernote newbie I used to type everything into notes – until I discovered the Web Clipper. The Web Clipper is a button that lives on the web browser. When I find an article, map, anything online that I want to save, I press that button and the Web Clipper will appear. I can save the entire page, the highlighted article or a selection of text from the page. It’s even smart enough to guess the notebook that I want to save to, and suggests tags as well. Now that I’ve discovered the Web Clipper, researching trips is easier and faster too.

The benefit of researching with Evernote is that all the content I’ve saved is available to me in one location. I find that it saves me time comparing flight and hotel options because I don’t need to go looking for URLs and entering my travel dates. It also helps limit distractions because I’m not in my web browser where my email inbox and Facebook are only a tab away…

Sorting & Creating a Reference Notebook

Till this point, all my notes have been going into my research notebook, e.g. Europe Trip 2013 Research.  Now it’s time to sort and make sense of it all. I create a 2nd notebook for reference e.g. Europe Trip 2013 Reference. I decide on an itinerary and move the relevant notes into this second notebook. I also tag all my notes with a unique tag so that I can view all notes across notebooks related to my trip if necessary.

In addition to the above, I also save flight details, booking confirmations, travel insurance etc to the reference notebook. I usually receive these information via email from the airline or hotel, and I can forward them to my Evernote email address. This will turn the email into a note, and save any attachments to the note as well. I also have a separate notebook where I keep scans of my passport and other important documents. The point of this is not to go paperless – I still print out these details. However when I’m filling up forms or need the information in a hurry, it’s literally in the palm of my hand and I don’t have to go digging for it in my bag.

Finally I create a note for my master itinerary. This is the note that I’ll refer to throughout my trip. It includes a summary of the information I need and if necessary I can link directly to the note or clipping for more details.

Offline Notebooks

Ok but with my paper printouts I don’t need Internet connection. And I don’t want to pay expensive data roaming fees.

Evernote to the rescue again! You can mark selected notebooks as offline notebooks. This will download the notes to your device so that they’re still accessible when you’re on airplane mode or don’t have an internet connection. This is a massive feature that I always use when overseas and I don’t want to buy a local SIM card.

Take note though that offline notebooks are a premium feature, so you’ll need to upgrade your account for the duration of the trip – it’s just USD5 per month or USD45 per year. Well worth the convenience, especially if you use Evernote for other reasons too.

All Together Now – An Example Workflow

  1. Research travel ideas on the internet. Travel blogs, Lonely Planet, etc. Clip the articles directly into the research notebook with the Web Clipper.
  2. Read about an attraction in a magazine. Snap a photo and save it into the research notebook.
  3. Look up your Bucket List notebook for other activities you want to do on your trip. Move it to your research notebook.
  4. Compare flights and hotels. Save the quotes to the research notebook so I don’t have to visit the hotel / airline website again later.
  5. Time to start making decisions. Create reference notebook.
  6. Shortlist activities to do on the trip and any related info. Move to the reference notebook.
  7. Decide on airline and hotels. Buy tickets and make reservations. Forward confirmation emails to the reference notebook.
  8. Make a master itinerary with summaries of flight, accommodation and activities. Link to specific notes if necessary.
  9. It’s time to start packing. Look up the packing checklist. Better start thinking about prepping the house for the trip too.
  10. Mark reference notebook as an offline notebook. Off on my trip with all important info in the palm of my hand.

Vacations can actually be extremely stressful. However by planning and preparing a little upfront, you’re more likely to have a stress free vacation. Happy travels!

P.S. The drawing style for my slides were Sketchnotes-inspired. I bought the book and will post a review when I get around to it.

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