Ideas and Tips on Using Evernote to Organize Your Next Trip
Much of the preparation for any trip, whether for pleasure or business, involves collecting and sharing info. By using Evernote, you can keep all your info in one place, sorted into folders or tagged with keywords for easy retrieval and sharing.
Although there are other notebook apps and services, Evernote is flexible because you can use it with your tablet, phone, computer and on the web.
Research and Data
The travel research you may need to do may include:
- Comparing transportation ticket prices and schedules.
- Attractions and events.
- Looking for deals and tracking courtesy card awards, such as flight mile discounts.
- Creating an itinerary.
Collect reservations, ticket info, reservation numbers, phone numbers, email addresses, and make copies of important documents. (See how, below.) Unless you are using only eTickets, keep photographs of your tickets in case they are lost, forgotten or stolen.
Add the email address for your Evernote account into your email directory, then, as you get reservation confirmations and other info, you can quickly forward the emails directly to your Evernote notebook. Also, for business trips, make a habit of CC:ing your Evernote address whenever sending or replying to email correspondence for a trip.
If traveling abroad, keep copies of your immunizations in Evernote, and your prescriptions, or use a digital vault. See below.
You can share a particular note or notebook with others in Evernote. On a free account, those you share with can only read what you put into that notebook. With a paid account, others can also edit and add info. For family planning, only the person sharing their notebooks needs to have a paid account. Kids can edit a shared folder or note on their parent’s paid account, for example.
Some reasons to share include:
- Family members can each research and share their ideas in Evernote.
- Business colleagues traveling together can share info and documents.
- With an Evernote Business account, a team and their supervisors can easily share info and grow the company info base.
- You can also share trip info with a secretary/assistant, a colleague, or your virtual assistant.
- If people in your company often travel to meet with a client, keep shared notes for the hotel services, the name of a helpful concierge, which eateries have Wi-Fi (and the password), and good places to entertain your client or other colleagues.
More Planning Ideas
Keep a copy of your itinerary in Evernote.
Note phone numbers for credit cards, travel agents, your airlines (or bus lines), your AAA or other auto club, local taxi services, limo owners, and embassies, as appropriate.
Set up a notebook for each trip, but also add tags: a general Travel tag for short trips, or hotel, airline, taxi, receipts, and other tags to find into quickly when you need it.
In addition to the standard text packing lists (of tickets, passports, clothing, equipment, cameras), you can add photos to your packing list with check off boxes to speed up packing. Remember to go through your checklists before leaving the house or office and again when leaving the hotel.
Be sure to include any pills, vitamins, pain relievers, sun tan lotion, your phone, tablet and laptop chargers, your USB Thumb Drive, and the like.
Both women and men can hang up and photograph matched outfits/suits/sportswear for the trip to add to your checklist and aid in packing.
You can also create shopping lists to prepare for the trip, with photos and links for ordering things online. You can also prepare a shopping list for during the trip itself, for you, family members, or other clients.
If flying, also list which items should go into a transparent plastic bag (freezer plastic bags work well) to take out of your baggage and speed your way through security screening. Include your keys, wallet, any jewelry, phones, camera, and any other objects with metal. This way you don’t have to dump everything into a bin; nor do you need to collect loose items and re-sort them into pockets and bags after you pass inspection. This can considerably reduce time spent in security checks.
See also our post on Evernote for List Makers.
Whether you might have a spare half hour or a couple of days, add info on possible things to do, see or photograph.
Keep a notebook of reading material you scanned or copied from web sites to read during downtime or unscheduled delays. If you have a paid account, you can download selected notebooks to access offline – handy for other travel docs, too.
There are several ways to organize your notes for a trip:
Keep a folder or a stack for each city for hotels, restaurants, meals, tourist destinations, kid friendly museums, as well as phone numbers for taxis, emergency services, banks, embassies, and whatever you might need for a celebration or an emergency. Once set up, you can keep it for return trips.
Especially if you have a busy schedule or are on a business trip or tour, keep copies of
- Who you are meeting.
- Meeting agendas.
- Where you are meeting.
- Maps, if your phone or tablet maps don’t have the detail you need (for example, of a convention complex).
- Copies of speeches, presentations, notes – or keep them in an easily accessible online storage area, such as Box.net, Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft’s SkyDrive. If they’re scattered across the web, though, you might keep copies in Evernote for quick access.)
There are many Evernote users who keep everything in one or two folders and just add tags to find everything. If you know how to create and find tags, and know the ins and outs of Evernote’s search tools, this can work very well. But it might take some rethinking for “folder people” to get used to it. It is also trickier if you are sharing folders.
Business Travel Tips
You can use Evernote’s time and date stamping and GPS location info to keep track of where and when you spent the money by immediately photographing the receipts into Evernote. This is useful for creating expense reports after your trip or just to remember where you spent all that money. See more scanning tips below.
Alternately, you can keep receipt copies in the same file as your itinerary so you can have a record of each expense, associated with the itinerary item.
If you have clients, you should already be keeping track of communications, documents, agreements and work product in Evernote. Keep your meeting notes, photos, and biz cards and lists of names and email addresses in Evernote to send thank you notes after the trip.
If attending networking events on your trip, photograph the people you meet holding up their name tags so you can forever associate a name with a face. You can also mention them in LinkedIn or Twitter or Google+ and give them some social cred. Consider using Evernote Hello if meeting people is important to you or your business.
Food and Dining
Keep copies of hotel room service or restaurant menus if you are likely to return again.
Keep photos of food, wine or beer labels, restaurant menus, especially if you think you might want to return on another trip. If you’re a foodie, check out the Evernote Food app, and use Skitch for simple photo editing and adding comments before sharing.
Take an Evernote photo with geo-location enabled so you can find a place again. Do the same if you are parking a rental car: keep a photo of the car, the license plate, and the lot, so you can recognize it and find it again. If in a parking garage, take a snapshot of the level and elevator location.
Keep copies of your reservations, discount cards, phone numbers, and address.
Note any problems with service, condition of room, or whatever if you need to complain.
Note whether it is cheaper to access Wi-Fi from your room, or from the hotel lobby or business service area, an in-hotel restaurant or bar, or a location outside the hotel (such as the public library around the corner). This is good info for you or for sharing with colleagues or family.
When you arrive at your hotel room, take a photo of the room number in case you forget. Programmable keys don’t have their numbers stamped on them.
Take lots of photos, videos, audios, and notes. Because photo and video files can be huge, there are other options that might be better for sharing online. But snapshots for the family or colleagues left behind are fine to share in a shared notebook.
Usually if you want a copy of a receipt, the easiest way is to use Evernote and your phone’s camera to photograph it. Be sure to add tags, such as expenses, the city name, i.e. NYC, or Taxes 2013.
If you use Evernote’s camera app at the point of sale, you can add location data to document where you spent the money. This might be handy if you have an aggressive accounting department or for just remembering what you spent that money on for your expense reports.
Use a portable scanner
If you are attending a conference or will be collecting documents, business cards, or lots of notes, it might make sense to bring a small, lightweight scanner (like the Doxie scanner) to enter all the info into Evernote and avoid packing excess paper in your suitcases or briefcases.
Hotels with business work suites might have scanners for your use. Be careful you don’t leave sensitive info on the hotel’s computers or in the scanner, though.
A tablet camera or a higher res phone camera can make quite good scans, too. Apps like CamScanner, DocScanner, Scanner Pro, and others let you photograph documents, adjust and straighten the scans, and crop the pages before sending to Evernote.
Mail to Scan
If you can’t be bothered scanning or photographing, create a Shoeboxed account and keep some Shoeboxed envelopes so you can mail receipts, conference documents, and such. Mail them before you return home to speed up their scanning and processing.
If you prefer to keep a journal or notebook for writing your impressions and creating sketches, drawings, paintings, and storing ephemera (see Taming the Wild Moleskine and our list of Alternatives to Moleskines), take photos of the pages to keep a digital copy in Evernote. Evernote searches your photos for words and will try to index your photos for keywords. (For paid accounts, it will search your PDFs to index words, too.) If your notebook is lost or stolen, you’ll appreciate the digital backup.
Or you can enter your notes or blog ideas into Evernote by keyboard or audio too.
If traveling with a small group of Evernote users, use shared notebooks so each person can record and share their activities, photos, scans and impressions with each other.
Warnings and Safety for Tech Travellers
Many Evernote fans tell travelers to keep important documents, copies of passports, travel documents, driver’s license, government IDs, credit cards, prescriptions, Social Security numbers, auto registrations, and other personal docs in a password protected Evernote notebook.
I strongly disagree! Evernote has password protection, but not automatic encryption (and only encrypts text files). Use a software vault on your phone, tablet, or computer for personal info that can be used for identity theft or even aid thieves or kidnappers. Some programs even offer a ‘fake’ password you can use to give to kidnappers (or law enforcement) if they are forcing you to give them a password! (Make sure the data is backed up somewhere so you can get the info again.) Take your personal security seriously, especially when traveling in other countries.
Same for a list of passwords, or use an encrypted password manager. A software or password vault can also keep track of credit cards.
Be sure to copy both sides of cards and documents if photographing them.
Use a password or code to access your phone while traveling.
If you’re an Apple iPhone or iPad user, make sure the Find My iPad or Find my iPhone feature is turned on. You can get similar programs for Android and other smart phones, too. There are also programs that will let you erase and disable your phone from afar.
In some foreign cities (and some parts of American cities), conspicuous use of cell phones or tablets might mark you as a tourist and/or an American and, thus, a mark for pickpockets, bag and pocket slashers, and muggers. Whether you are using Evernote or other apps, avoid conspicuous phone and tablet use in public and try to always be aware of what’s going on around you. Digital maps are wonderful, but look around you to see if using them makes you stand out or if they’re leading you into an alley.
Low tech activities, such as checking maps or carrying around cameras or new luggage, can also mark you as a tourist.
Keep your phone or tablet and wallet in a safe place. You can even add Velcro inside your clothing for a small cloth bag, away from pickpockets. Avoid using your back pants pockets or exterior pockets in backpacks or carrying bags. Only carry your passport with you while you’re traveling between countries.
Follow the normal precautions to avoid pickpockets, motorcycle thieves, and muggers. Keep a handbag in front of you and avoid walking by the curb. A pickable wallet (with just a few bucks and expired shopping discount cards instead of credit cards) can be kept in your back pocket while your real one is hidden. You might even take a spare pickable cell phone (perhaps an old one you no longer use with the chip removed) as a decoy while you keep yours in a safer place. (Eschew jewelry and expensive watches, too.) If you are suddenly surrounded by people pressing you on several sides, there’s a good chance someone is picking your pocket or slashing a bag or backpack with the help of colleagues.
Evernote offers the option of using two-step login for extra security, currently only on Premium or Business accounts. (Google and other services also offer the option.) This involves sending a text to your phone to enter online when you login. It’s a great security system, but if you are leaving the country, make sure the text messages can still get to you when you are away! You might want to turn this option off if you are traveling without your cell phone or using Evernote where you might not have cell phone access. (Also, in some countries, buying or renting a local phone can be cheaper than trying to use your U.S. phone.)
With just a few precautions, though, Evernote and other digital tools can make your trip a wonderful, and organized, experience.
What other tips and ideas do YOU have for using Evernote for traveling? Please share in the comments.
For more reading:
Travel Series: Planning a Trip with Evernote by Kasey Fleisher Hickey
Plan a Family Vacation or a Solo Trip with Evernote (Travel Series) by Kasey Fleisher Hickey
16 ways I use Evernote on business travel by Denise Graveline
Don’t Let The Crooks Win! Use These 12 Ways to Prevent Cellphone Theft from DumbLittleMan.com.
Cum Laude in Evading Bandits by Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times