I just got back from a quick overnight trip. I’d like to say it was beautifully planned and everything went as I’d hoped.
I’d like to say that, but I can’t.
The truth is, faced with the prospect of an unexpected extra day off, I decided to take a quick jaunt up to Lake Michigan. I booked a hotel room in New Buffalo, Michigan, about three hours from where I live. I did a little bit of internet searching on kayak rental, because I knew I wanted to paddle the Galien River.
It was all clear in my head: dinner at Redamak’s, hanging out at the beach, hiking at Galien River County Park, kayaking on the Galien River, more hanging out at the beach.
What I failed to realize is that the New Buffalo Ship and Shore Festival was taking place. Southbound traffic was backed up so badly I couldn’t even think about getting into the Redamak’s parking lot. There was no getting near the beach. Ultimately I ended up with an hour-long dinner wait at a place in Three Oaks, where I couldn’t see the lake. Then I took the long way ’round to avoid New Buffalo on the way back to my hotel room.
Where I sulked a little bit.
I usually do a much better job of researching and planning a trip. Here are a couple of my methods.
Travel Planning in a Bullet Journal
My preferred method is planning in my Bullet Journal, because that goes everywhere with me. If it’s a trip I’ve been anticipating for a while, there’s a good chance things will occur to me at random times. I want to be able to capture those thoughts when they hit me.
I sell a set of trip planning stickers in my Etsy store, and those are the stickers I use most of the time when I’m planning a trip.
The stickers include packing lists for categories like Medicine/First Aid, Electronics, Makeup & Personal Care, Miscellaneous, and all the outfits I’ll need. There’s also a trip overview where I put the dates, the number of days and nights I’ll be traveling, and the expected weather.
That last bit is important! One year when I went up to the Indiana Dunes, I failed to realize it was going to be just as hot and sticky there as it was where I live. I ended up at the Michigan City outlet mall to buy clean clothes!
Travel Planning with a Printable
I also have a new Travel Itinerary Printable that I’m offering here as a free download.
This printable has places to note your destination, flight information, hotel information, and expected weather. After that comes a grid to plan out several days worth of things to do and your daily budget.
It’s a two-page printable. The ten days included are all numbered. If you’re lucky enough to be traveling longer than ten days, you can always print extra copies of the second page to fit your trip.
Traveling with your Planner
Once you have the trip all planned and you’re ready to leave, do you take your planner with you?
I always do. For one thing, I use my Bullet Journal as a planner but also as a sort of scrapbook. I have a little HP Sprocket printer (the red version) and I use that to print small photos that I can stick in my Bullet Journal with some recollections about the day.
Another reason to take my Bullet Journal with me is so I have important addresses with me, even if my phone battery dies. I love sending postcards to my friends–even though a lot of them don’t even bother checking their mailbox daily!
(What is up with that, by the way? I’m Gen X and check my mailbox daily even though it’s usually just bills and spiders. My Millennial friends don’t seem to remember to check the mailbox daily.)
Anyway… I also like to have my Bullet Journal with me to record expenses during the trip, write down places I want to go or things I want to do next time I visit, and so on. Maybe if I were using a traditional daily or weekly planner, I wouldn’t be as inclined to take it on personal trips with me.
What about you? Do you take your Bullet Journal or planner with you when you’re traveling? Do you have any tips I’ve forgotten to mention? Comment and let me know!
And don’t forget to download your itinerary printable!