And so, as I prepare for a quick trip to Italy, I thought it might be fun to share some of the tools and systems I use for trip planning so that you can get started on your next adventure! Press play on the video below for a walkthrough of my trip-planning process, or head below for the text breakdown.
#1 Use Google Flights to research itineraries
Google Flights (Flights.Google.com) is such an incredible tool if your trip requires air travel. If you aren’t already using it, you’re missing out! I turn on email reminders so I can watch price fluctuations for at least a month before booking. My favorite aspect here is the ability to do multi-city itineraries, which comes in really handy if you want to get creative. Such as flying into Milan but home from Rome, as I’ll do on my upcoming trip. Or, if you plan to visit Copenhagen, look into flights that arrive in Copenhagen and depart from Oslo, Norway, and spend a night at sea on the DFDS Ferry.
Try it: Head to Google Flights and plug in an itinerary to your favorite city for a future date. Be sure to set it to either one-way, roundtrip, or multi-city, depending on the type of itinerary you need. When it shows the results, be sure to pay attention to whether it’s a nonstop flight or has layovers, the total travel time (some itineraries might have 8+ hour layovers, etc.), and the price. if you’d like to track the prices for that itinerary, you can click in the top right corner to toggle on the Track Prices option (as shown below). Then you’ll get an email alert any time the price goes up or down.
#2 Use a Google Doc to organize all of your trip research and plans
By using a cloud-based service like Google Docs (Docs.Google.com), I can easily access the info on desktop or mobile anytime I have something to add or update — and can easily access it while traveling! Plus, I can share it with anyone joining me on the trip. Whether it’s my college-age sister or my retired parents. Google Docs are easy to access (no account required to view it), and the word processor format makes them easy for anyone to understand and utilize. This is where I’ll create a day-by-day itinerary, document any reservation numbers, and hyperlink to travel guides, restaurant suggestions, track expenses + more.
Last summer, we had a lot of visitors following COVID lockdowns and planned trips with my mother-in-law (to Iceland), my sister-in-law (to Norway), and one of our closest friends (to Greece), along with several trips for the two of us. As the primary planner, I had a lot of moving parts to keep track of, and my head would have fallen off without Google Docs to organize each of these trips. The ability to share it with the other guests so everyone has access to the info but can also collaborate was invaluable. Here’s an example of the document I created for a trip where my mother-in-law visited us in Denmark for a week; the three of us spent a few days in Iceland, and then Josh and I road-tripped the entire coastline after she flew back to the US.
Try it: Open up and new Google Doc and start an itinerary for an upcoming trip. A good first step is to simply list out the days and dates and identify any time-specific obligations that you already know of (like a wedding or meeting). Now you can start to see how much time you have to work with and can begin making other plans, like hotel reservations or tickets to a show.
#3 Research your destination on Google Maps and bookmark things ahead of time
Organizing things you want to see and do on a Google Map (Maps.Google.com) is key to having a memorable trip but also reducing travel stress! You can easily create a rough itinerary for each day, but your Map allows you to be flexible and always have options readily available. You can pull up your map and see things nearby that you’ve already vetted and approved. You can add them to your main Google map or create a custom one with layers (see the video for an example). Be sure to check out ratings and reviews, and browse recent photos to get a feel for the vibe.
Try it: Open up Google Maps and navigate to your neighborhood. Search for something you enjoy, like coffee shops or parks. Look at their ratings, read some reviews, and hit “save” for one you’d like to visit this week. You can save it to an existing list, such as “Want to Go”, or create a new one. If you’d like to create a layered map, try visiting Google My Maps.
#4 Use a Gmail address for all travel-related reservations/confirmations.
Google Travel (Travel.Google.com) is a great time AND stress-saving hack! This tool automatically adds any travel plans that land in your Gmail Inbox to your Google Calendar and organizes details like flights and hotel reservations in a Google Travel Itinerary. It also offers trip suggestions based on your recent searches. While I prefer my Google Doc tip (#2) for organizing more detailed trip itineraries, knowing this page exists can help you quickly access the details rather than wading through your inbox. I’ve found it especially helpful when booking tickets in foreign languages, which can sometimes be hard to pull up in your inbox if you aren’t sure what words to search for (that’s me admitting that this tool has saved me from more than one panic attack).
Try it: If you already have a Gmail address, you can simply click on Travel.Google.com, and it will automatically create itineraries based on any existing travel plans or reservations in your inbox.
If these tools are new to you, I hope they might give you ideas for how you can plan more organized trips in the future, and arrive at your destination prepared to have a great time! Any other tips or tools you’ve found helpful? Tell me about them in the comments.
Let’s get you organized! Want to strengthen your digital systems and get organized for good? Join me for the next session of my group program, Thyme Transformation. I’ll teach you the 4-part framework that will help you organize all aspects of your life. You can learn more and join the waitlist here.
Interested in getting all of my best tips for a trip to Copenhagen + access to my interactive Google Map? Go here for my Insider’s Guide to Copenhagen.