If you’ve read Trip Planning 101: Planning Without the Stress, and are interested in learning more about my Trip Planner, you have come to the right place! I’ve gone over my trip planning process and how I make sure to record everything from beginning to end, using my trip planner spreadsheet. In this post I’m going to go over just the mechanics of my trip planner, since it is pretty in depth. I want to make sure my labels and process for using this sheet (not for planning a trip in general) are clear. If you have any questions about how to use the trip planner feel free to leave a comment!
To start off with, my Trip Planner has four tabs, also known as “Sheets.” The three constant sheets are “Itinerary”, “Budget”, and “City”. There are two city tabs to start. Duplicate the city tab so that you have a tab for each individual city you will visit. For example if you are visiting Venice, Rome and Florence, then you would have a total of 5 tabs. Itinerary, Budget, Venice, Rome, Florence. (See Image)
To start with, I have included two city tabs. If you are visiting more than one city, you can right click on one of the city tabs and choose “Duplicate.” This will create a copy of the tab. You can rename the copy, and all tabs by right clicking the tab and choosing “Rename.” This is how you will set up your trip planner spreadsheet, so it has your information. (See Image Below)
The itinerary tab is a brief look at your overall schedule. This is going outline your dates, travel days, days you are spending in each city, and a brief list of the activities you want to do in each city you are visiting. The activities column should be very broad. “Explore, Elephant Tour, Northern Lights.” This activity column is for brainstorming in the beginning, just to give you an idea of how much you want to accomplish and how many days you should spend in each place. Later on, once you have made concrete decisions and booked things, you can turn it into an ideal “schedule” if you wish. The most detailed part about the Itinerary page are the travel dates/times and the locations. You want to be able to look at this list and think “that needs to be moved around” or “This itinerary looks great!”
You might also notice I have some different colors on this page. I use the reddish/pink color to highlight travel days, so that I don’t confuse them with days I will actually be on the ground in my destination. I use colors for highlighting quite a bit. I will also highlight each city to be different color, so it is easier to see at first glance. The image below is an example of a finished itinerary page, with my use of highlighting.
This tab is the same tab that is shown in my Budgeting 101 post. While the primary focus of this tab is budget, it includes a lot of other very important information. This page is where you will track which things you’ve paid for, confirmation numbers, check in and out dates, flight numbers, etc. This tab is going to end up being the most important one.
Be Sure to Keep track of this information as you are researching it, and as you confirm it. You can always change it to be exact later.
Your major transportation costs include your airfare and any other mode of transport that costs more than a standard metro ticket. This includes Overnight trains, ferries, flights from one destination to another (not home), car rental etc. You’ll notice that everything has a “Status” column with a dropdown menu. If you’re just inputting the flights and hotels you think you’d like to book, you can set it as “Planning.” If you’ve reserved anything but chosen to pay upon arrival, you can set it as “Reserved.” If you pay for it as soon as you book it you can mark it “Paid.” I like to highlight the items that have been paid, green. So it is easy to point out.
Also notice the “totals” have 0’s in them. I’ve already set these up with formulas, so as you enter your information everything will total for you automatically.
Your Accommodations section is for hotels, hostels, AirBnB, guesthouses, anywhere that you plan to stay. Enter your check in and out dates and times. You’ll want to know if you can’t check in until noon and you arrive at 7am, so you can make plans to pack light or store your luggage. Keep your confirmation numbers here so you can pull it up on your phone when you arrive. It’s a lot easier than keeping track of a bunch of paper.
Next you’ve got activities. Once you decide which activities you want to do, you can enter them with the location and price.
Log your food, minor transportation, shopping, incidentals, and everything else under your daily spending budget. I’ve also added “combined daily spending” as an option incase you prefer to track it that way. Read Budgeting 101: Organization is Only Half the Battle where I talk about how I determine my daily spending budget.
Last, you have a spot for travel insurance and vaccines if you are visiting a destination that requires them. Leave it blank if this does not apply to you.
Below is an example of a completed budget tab:
Remember all of those activities you wrote down on the itinerary page that you were interested in? Now is the time to research those in more detail. On each city’s tab you can record the activity you want to do, how much it costs, include a website for that specific activity or tour, mark if you have paid for it, how long the tour lasts, the hours of operation, and how you will get there. The hours of operation apply to activities like museums. You don’t have a designated start time, but you should still know when they are open. When I visited London, there were certain things I wanted to visit, that were only open on certain days. I might have missed doing those things if I didn’t note that ahead of time.
The last thing I’ve added on the city tab, is specific recommendations. Maybe you know someone who has been there before, or maybe you find somewhere online that you really want to go. Put those specific places here so you don’t forget about them! Under type you can put something like “Restaurant, bar, park” Name can be the specific name of that location.
If you have any questions please leave a comment! How do you organize your trip itineraries and information?
Image © kitzcorner // Fotolia