Using Evernote

How to Plan an Amazing Trip of a Lifetime

UPDATE JULY 2021: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not travel internationally. Even once you are vaccinated, the emerging Delta variant means you should continue to wear a mask indoors in public. You can check CDC’s current recommendation for your destination country here.

Have you dreamed of having éclairs at an outdoor café in Paris, or seeing the northern lights in person? Have you ever imagined gasping in wonder as you photograph wild giraffes in Africa? Or do you just want to see the tiny village where your grandmother was born? If you dream of far-off destinations and adventures, don’t keep them in your head. What if this year, you made your travel dreams a reality? What if this is the year you make your trip of a lifetime happen?

With careful thought, research, and planning, your trip of a lifetime can go from pipe dream to boarding the plane. Whether you’re taking your laptop with you on vacation, or are traveling light with just a phone, put everything together and ensure a smooth trip with Evernote.

We talked to travel experts to get tips for using Evernote before, during, and after your trip. And, we teamed up with Barbara Fuller from Simplify Days to provide you with the perfect templates to imagine and plan:

Aerial shot of Lefkada Greece

Lefkada, Greece. Photo: Kerry Murray

Madrid-based David Lengen and Bas Ellen run the travel blog David and Bas think beyond ordinary vacations like resorts, cruises, and package deals. They know that “once-in-a-lifetime” means just that. They have one chance to get it right, so they’re not taking any risks.

“We look at travel planning in four phases,” David explains. “Inspiration, Planning and Booking, In-Trip, and After Trip. We look very carefully at each phase to make sure we’re getting everything just right.”

Inspiration for your trip of a lifetime

Bas says he starts the inspiration phase with brainstorming and Web Clipper. “Your dream depends on what you value, and what you find special,” he says. “If you know what your vision is, plan for that.” David and Bas each clip articles and pictures they like into a shared inspiration notebook that they can discuss when it’s time to choose the next destination.

“Your dream depends on what you value, and what you find special.”—Bas Ellen

“Don’t rely on marketing from the properties to make your decision,” David cautions. “Look on Instagram, travel blogs, trusted magazines. If you’re starting to narrow down where you’re going, talk to people who’ve been there.” This is also the time to research attractions, restaurants, and hotels, Bas advises. “If you have your eye on a particular Michelin-starred restaurant, you’re going to need a lot of time in advance to get a reservation.”

Pro Tip: Evernote Web Clipper will create a new note for each item you clip, so keep all your inspirations together by copying and pasting your clip directly into your template.

Research is key when it comes to travel budgets, too, Bas says. “You can have a dream vacation if you know the right time to go.” Bas offers a few rules of thumb:

  • If you haven’t decided on a destination, research where you can afford to go
  • Aim for “shoulder-season” if you can to avoid the crowds and the highest prices
  • Track flight trends with an app like Hopper and buy when fares are low
  • Consider booking a series of one-way flights on multiple airlines—they’re often cheaper than a round-trip fare
View of the coast of Lake Como, Italy

Lake Como, Italy.  Photo: Kerry Murray

Planning and Booking: On the road again

You’ve picked the perfect vacation spot. Now it’s time to put details into place. And when Bas Ellen talks about specifics, he means it. “I don’t like surprises,” he says solemnly. “So I plan everything to the nth degree.”

Travel planning at this stage is a series of emails, receipts, maps, confirmation numbers, and other data that doesn’t seem very important before you go. But if you don’t have it together when you’re traveling, it can ruin your trip.

This is where your Trip Planning template and your Calendar template become invaluable.

Josh Zerkel, who spent years traveling the world hosting Evernote Community events, offers tips for using Evernote on the road that even the most experienced traveler might miss.

“Did you know you can download Google Maps to your smartphone and use it offline? That’s important if you’re traveling in an area where Wi-Fi is scarce or expensive, and you don’t want to use your data plan for mapping,” Josh says. “Plug in specific directions, like from your hotel to a restaurant. Grab the link from those directions, and put it in your Trip Planning template next to the entry for that restaurant. Then, when you’re ready to go, just tap the link, and your directions are waiting for you.”

“When you can get to your notebook without internet, you will save time and money.” —Josh Zerkel

Maps aren’t the only place you can use note links to organize your trip to be stress-free. Josh suggests these traveling pro tips:

  • Have Evernote downloaded on all your travel devices—laptops, phones, and tablets.
  • Keep a shared notebook for all your travel plans and share it with your companions.
  • Keep your travel notebook in your Evernote shortcuts for quick access.
  • Scan your important travel documents to Evernote. If you lose the real ones, or even if you lose your phone or laptop, the copies will be available in your secure web account from any computer.
  • Use Evernote email forwarding or Web Clipper to put all your important reservations, itineraries, tickets, and confirmation numbers in your travel notebook.
  • Maintain an essential daily travel itinerary. See a day-by-day view of what you plan to do, and make changes on the fly.

The most important advice? “Make your travel notebook available offline before you go,” Josh says. “You’d be surprised how many people don’t know you can do that. When you can get to your notebook without internet, you will save time and money.”

Surfer walking along the shore of Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa.  Photo: Kerry Murray

While you’re on the trip

The best time to write about your travel experiences is when you’re still on the journey. Put your thoughts into Evernote, either in the templates or in a new note.

  • Add checkboxes to your to-do list, and tick each item off as you complete it.
  • Organize your thoughts and draft blog posts about your trip of a lifetime.
  • Capture your thoughts and feelings on the go—your memory is fresher.
  • Add photos you want to share later.
  • If you need to print something, you can use the computer in the hotel’s business center to access your Evernote account from a browser.
  • Share your travel notebook with folks back home so they can see what you’re up to every day. And be a little jealous.

Pro Tip: Have unchecked items left over at the end of the trip? Josh recommends moving those items into a new note, so you’re already starting to plan for next time.

After you get back

It’s always a little bittersweet when a vacation is over, but remember that part of the fun is preserving the memories. Turn your notebook into a travel scrapbook for yourself and your friends. Become a subject matter expert for someone else—make a public version of your note for others to see. Just be sure to take out any private information before you do.

Get these templates to start your travel planning and make that dream vacation happen!

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