Staying Organized: The Notebook

The Notebook

Along with all the reservations I’ve made over the past couple of weeks have come emails. with confirmations, addresses, etc. Most of them arrived in my inbox and were then relocated to a special file I’d set up (Brett also maintains confirmation numbers in a calendar). Even though I’ve arranged them in order by date they’re frankly still a pain to get into and go through when I want or need to know something.

Although I’m always trying to go as paperless as possible these days, I finally figured out that I would be happier in this case if I had everything printed out and organized. So, I created The Notebook.

I purchased a half-inch three-ring binder, lightweight yet big enough to hold everything I want. It also has pockets inside both the front and rear covers to hold odds and ends that we collect along the way, including the pages from guidebooks that we want to take along.

Then, I printed off calendar pages for each month we’ll be traveling, and filled in each day with where we’ll be, using a different color for each destination. It’s easy to look at the calendar page and see which days we’re traveling, and for how long we’ll be staying at each location. Travel days get an arrow, and also are coded to let us know if we have airline tickets, lodging and/or hotel or car rental, if needed, or if there’s something that still needs to be taken care of.

The calendar helps easily see where we will be each day of the month, our travel days, what’s been reserved and what still needs to be taken care of.

Behind each calendar page go hotel and flight reservations, and Airbnb rental agreements. The Airbnb information contains phone numbers, addresses, etc. which will be highlighted and easier to find if needed, and we’re planning to print out a page from Google Maps for each of our Airbnb rentals to show their location, which we might need to share with a cab driver or someone else if get lost. We can add extra information to the pages if needed, things like directions, which bus or train to take, luggage fees and so forth.

As we move through the calendars each month, pages will be moved to the back of the notebook to form a sort of “diary” of our journey. Brett will be keeping a journal of each day, but the notebook will hopefully add another dimension.

I realize The Notebook is one more thing to carry along, but I’ve already found it useful and know it will continue to be so as we move along. I figure we can’t be too organized, especially with as much as we’ve will have going on.


8 thoughts on “Staying Organized: The Notebook

  1. Laura, I do same with all long trips, because there is simply no better way to remain organized enroute than with paper. I’m no Luddite, but dealing strictly with e-items can be incredibly frustrating.

    We also always carry a paper map as back up, because sometimes GPS charts a course that ends up not being logical. It’s directed us to dirt roads on more than one occasion as just one example!

    I am prepping for a multi-week RV trip now, and my stack of papers is growing accordingly. Nicely, it gets thinner as we go along because I toss out things once we’re done with that leg.

    Fun times ahead for you two!


    1. I have already found my notebook to be very useful, especially since we’re still making reservations. I was going mad trying to keep everything straight while checking emails, etc. and having it all on paper has made it so much easier.

      We are going to get maps for the cities in Europe, and probably Sydney as well. Lots of people have recommended the PopOut (?) maps as they’re easy to carry in your pocket. But, the printing is very tiny. We’re going to mark our location on whichever maps we choose so we can hopefully find our way back “home” if we get lost.

      I had thought about throwing away the pages of The Notebook as we used them, but have decided that moving them to the back will make a nice memento of the trip.

      Yes, fun times ahead! And I thought we were going to be traveling a lot – I think you will have us beat!


  2. Great idea! I’ve done something similar in the past (month long road trip through the US) and found is so helpful. There’s just something about being able to flip through the pages to find the information you need, instead of searching for it on your computer or cell phone.


    1. There really is something to being able to look at information on a piece of paper versus online or on your phone. Even though I have things in order in my email, it can get frustrating quickly trying to find information or put it together with other pieces. And, The Notebook will make a nice souvenir for us when the Big Adventure is complete.


  3. Paper can sometimes be much more helpful than you think, especially with Air B&B rentals! We were in Spain a few years ago when there was a huge protest bordering on a riot. We came out of an underground shopping center to find ourselves in the middle of it and promptly went back towards our Air B&B, trying to avoid the riot police, tear gas, etc – only to realize that the apartment we were renting was directly across from a very important government building and so was inside a cordoned off area that you could only get to with proof of your address. Since we’d booked more than 2 weeks before and the emails weren’t cached on our phones, luckily we had the paper copy of the reservation to show the police officers that we did actually have a reason to be inside the safe section of the city!


    1. Wow! Thanks for sharing this – it’s a very real (and kind of scary) example of why having paper backup could be important, beyond just helping to keep things organized. I am keeping all our emails cached, but how much easier would it be to just go to the notebook and show the paper with the reservation. Airbnb makes it very easy to print out as well.


  4. Hmmm. I posted a response from my iPad yesterday, and it didn’t show up. Somehow, iPad blog responses have a tendency to disappear on me.

    So this made me smile, because I devised a similar system for our fall trip to Italy. I also used the TripIt app, which was a great place to store confirmations, times, etc. But I always feel better with a paper backup, as well as being able to get a good visual snapshot when I want one. It worked well for us.

    When airlines went to e-boarding passes on my phone, I was hesitant to use them, but over time I got hooked. Of course, phones now have better batteries, the internet seems more stable in most places, etc. But once I leave the US, I do like a paper backup.


  5. I have used the e-boarding passes a few times, but Brett and I are going to have to become very familiar with them on this trip. The paper backup will be helpful and necessary at times though. For now it’s fun to flip through it and think about all the places we’re going.

    I’ve been having trouble lately commenting on Blogger blogs – not sure what’s up. I hit the “publish” button and my comment disappears. It’s happened on two different blogs, on two different days, so there’s something going on, probably a glitch with Blogger.


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