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Old 09-29-2022, 04:07 AM   #1
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Trip Info Overload! How to best organize?

Iím planning a big trip and Iím feeling overloaded with all the wonderful information Iím gathering - places to stay, things to see, restaurants to try, best routes to take, things to pack, things I need to buy. In the past Iíve planned shorter trips with one destination in mind and the organization seemed easier. But with a longer trip covering thousands of miles and many wonderful possibilities, Iím drowning in information, especially since Iím not planning my entire route before I leave, but would prefer to allow the trip to unfold while on it, choosing where to go and how long to stay based on the information Iíve collected.

At the moment I have a pile of large and bulky atlases, files of saved recipes, a meal planning notebook, saved campgrounds on various apps, big wish list on Amazon, a packing list on my phone, a notebook of places to go, Trip Wizard once I start to plan, a camping journal of where IĎve gone and what Iíve spent and the miles Iíve traveled. What began as manageable is growing so fast Iím having trouble finding what Iíve collected!

Iím usually good with organization but I havenít figured out how best to organize the many details of my RV life, especially as Iím planning a long trip.

For those who travel a lot - how do you organize all the details and resources of your trips?
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Old 09-29-2022, 04:49 AM   #2
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Thereís only one way to eat an elephant.

“One bite at a time” - A big trip is made up of several or alot of shorter trips strung together in a way that makes sense to you.

Think of how a book or good owners manual is laid out. Sometimes with a quick start guide, then table of contents listing page numbers on where to find the basics (or chapters) then the detailed body and text of the book or manual. Think of moving from the ‘General’ to the ‘specific’. Your general plan is to reach a final destination or loop back point. That is made up of several ‘legs’ stopping for sightseeing for example. The ‘specific’ is the detailed info you want to look at about a specific sightseeing stop on a specific leg of the trip. Rough it all out, change it as you go kind of thinking.

Resources and trip planning are different but related. Make them two plans. I rough out the trip which it seems you have already done. But I always make a plan A of stops. It helps with fuel management, rest stops, where to stay, how long to spend there, etc. BUT it can always be made into plan B, skip this fuel stop and go here instead as you travel. Stay two nights instead of one as you get within a hundred miles. For example.

Trip Planner helps esp in fuel burn. But then I may make notes for each complicated stop, even saving overheads of tricky fuel stops, intersections. This will need to be organized into either hard copy, electronic or a little of both. But the key to that is making notes of where to find those details later. So for example, in the notes field of Trip Planner for a complicated stop you can write “Green folder” for details. Or for sightseeing, write “Red Folder” and keep that folder divided into all the sightseeing stops you are thinking of so you can easily and quickly find the specific sightseeing stop you have coming up next.

I find the Notes in iphone and Ipad work great, easy to change or delete. And it gives me two backups electronically. When I think I have it set I can print out the Notes page. And hand write a few changes if I need to.

Resources are handled much the same. Meals can be organized into fresh food you need to eat sooner rather than later, eating out, and ‘camp food’. And maybe days where you just have a sandwich. Also you don’t have to haul two months of food with you if you preplan where you might want to stop and shop. You just want a rough plan sketched out before you leave. Then it’s easy to change, then get beck on the rough plan. Or ditch it, all up to what you want to do.

You already have the details you just need to organize and create a kind of table of contents with a note where to find certain things. Visual is best, green folder, black case, keep a small binder that I call Quick Reference and that tells me where to dig into details (again it might say green folder, top cabinet, etc).

To use this system, once traveling, just keep the next several stops in mind, even making a shorter note you can keep to refer two. Every so often look at your next three days plans to see if you want to change something or missed something.

Take it a ‘bite at a time’ and remember this is all subject to change as you go. But worse case you have a good Plan A to start with.

Like a lot of things, it takes more to describe it than to actually do and use it. Works for me. Hope some of this helps.
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Old 09-29-2022, 05:04 AM   #3
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What are you trying to accomplish with your trip ?

Are you trying to maximize the amount of information you need to weed through ? Or are you heading out to visit places to enjoy them ?

We also plan out our routes, mainly with RV Trip Wizard. The route is usually dictated by the destination, be that for a specific day or for the whole trip. We also, being early risers, review our route on the morning of travel days.

If you have the time, spend more than a day at each location. That way you can limit your search for things to do and see to that location.

Don't lose sight of the forest for the trees.
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Old 09-29-2022, 07:11 AM   #4
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I use a steno notebook to organize campground reservations.
Then I take a photo of the page and upload to my Evernote.
I have Evernote Folders for all my trips.
It’s the best organizer on any smartphone, worth the $25 / yr.
All emails are saved in Evernote, all notes are easy to find on a tablet, PC or phone
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Old 09-29-2022, 08:24 AM   #5
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I guess we did it wrong for 27 years. The whole idea of taking the MH was to relax along the way to our destination. And once there, unwind and relax some more. On one trip with our grandson, we let him pick the stops. On the night before, he would pick out places along the way he wanted to see. We never planned more than two days ahead. Some of our best trips were spontaneous. No planning except for our destination. If I had to stick to a planned schedule, I might as well have stayed home. We had enough stress running our businesses, but felt the MH was one sunrise at a time. Guess we all march to a different drummer.
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Old 09-29-2022, 09:51 AM   #6
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I use a spreadsheet with a tab for each planned stop. Each tab is largely similar to the others as far as the data contained - stops, hotel/camping specifics, restaurants, attractions, contact info, web URL's. You can paste just about anything there too, I'll often snip out small map details or web images and add them to the tab. Pretty much everything goes there I don't want to forget and need access to in the event I don't have internet. I'll use the spreadsheet enroute and edit as I go but I also print it out before I leave so I have a hardcopy "when all else fails".

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Old 09-29-2022, 11:12 AM   #7
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The internet actually makes it easier. We have some camping friends, and the wife likes to plan the sightseeing for larger trips. We've done two coast to coast trips with them and several other large trips. She creates a three-ring binder with each destination. Each destination contains several things to do in that area. Obviously, some of those things to do are why people visit a certain area, like monuments, famous houses, etc. We visit the main attractions, and she brings along pages out of the binder with info on some of the other places we might visit. As the day(s) come to an end with pick out what else we want to do from the list.
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Old 09-29-2022, 01:40 PM   #8
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I am by nature a planner. I use spreadsheets a lot, and over the years have sorted must see and do broken down by State and Region and closest towns, hence easy to sort logically. My challenge is when in an area, I'm afraid of missing out on seeing something, so tend to have everything over detailed. LOL.

I spend weeks sometimes months picking up the intinerary and researching and adding to it here and there. One year daughter and hubby said, lets just go! Ironically it was the worst vacation we'd ever had so immediately went back to planning for almost 3 decades now of RVing.

When we plan a big trip ie; Alberta to Florida, we will utilise googlemaps and RV Parky for planning it, and typically break down into sections/areas we will be headed to. We add in places of interest/stops for Montana, then Idaho, then Utah then Nevada (maybe stopping at Las Vegas enroute for 3 days). We also add in at least one sometimes 2 extra down days every so often, so if we stumble across something a local recommends enroute we can do it or if we want to stay a place a day or two longer we can. Likewise if there's a mechanical issue.

We find it easy for us as we never book campgrounds in advance, unless as we are getting closer to say Los Angeles or NYC where we need to book into one, then we look at availability a week or two prior. If can't accommodate we usually can modify to arrive when availability is there for a few days.

Hubby and I love our spreadsheets sorted by state/Region/closest town then moved up or down based on google mapping. It has day, date, travel time/miles, must see/do, overnight stay options, costs, and column to do a write up after visiting in person for future reference. Sometimes we end up a day or two ahead of schedule and then sometimes a day or two behind, but it works well for us nonetheless. Also all the information we need is there on one sheet hard copy and on my laptop to refer to each day.

As they say, what's the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Start at the beginning with your destination and see your route, and then as advised above break it down into several pieces and work on each from the beginning mapping what you have found you want to see and do in each location.

Happy and safe travels.
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Old 09-29-2022, 02:07 PM   #9
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Iím organizing a 5-month 2023 trip using mainly RV Trip Wizard.

I start with my home base and add the end location. Then I fill in the middle.
Determining true ďdestinationĒ stops is very important.

With RV Trip Wizard itís easy to make changes or create several plans.
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Old 09-29-2022, 02:25 PM   #10
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I plan my trips using highway signs.
Not the stop, speed kind. The ones just off the road leading to "attractions".
Car museums, big balls of string, tall Texan's, aircraft museums. old diner's etc.
Never know where I'll end up at each night.
I call it vacation.

Mike in Colorado
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Old 09-29-2022, 02:37 PM   #11
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As full-timers and constant travelers I may have done it differently than you but here goes:

I had a Word Perfect document with columns by state and the next column by nearest town. Then a column for campgrounds;one for descriptions including what others have recommended; one for restaurants recommended; one for attractions. My document is now over 400 pages long!!! However, I can easily find things by 'sorting' and 'searching'. I received a LOT of recommendation from friends and meeting people during travels so it all went into this document.

I did not use a GPS/trip planning program until a couple nights before when we decided where our next stop was to be. One stop at a time. Plus, the only thing I used it for was for the daily drive to get there after I had the route perfected in my mind of which way I wanted to go - not the way the GPS wanted me to go. I scanned my Benchmark atlas book to plan my own route and I could see what attractions were along the way or near our next stop. Highlight things in your paper atlas as you read about them or hear about them.

When we went to Alaska we still planned only a stop at a time. Naturally, we had an end destination - Alaska - but we started off in Arizona. We didn't worry about anything in the future - just a stop at a time. Many times our 'ideas' of where to go changed as we talked to others along the trip. Ourselves.... we always stay flexible and can change in an instant.

We didn't make reservations as we're boondockers or public campground users so it was easy to move along whenever we wanted. Reservations locks you in.

I'm not a gourmet cook so I really didn't need many recipes - no meal planning. Just used food that we had on hand. Our meals were simple - usually meat on the grill and veggies. Load your freezer & refrigerator before taking off and replenish as you use it. I did have some favorite potluck recipes because we always seemed to meet up with new friends - or old friends - and had potlucks. You said you have a file of recipes and meal planning notebook. You're going alone so I don't think that's necessary if you begin with stocking with your favorites. Plan a day ahead and take something out of the freezer. You'll probably want to go to restaurants occasionally for 'local' flavor and plan on visiting local farmer's markets for new ideas of what to cook.

A packing list is necessary for you since you're not a full-timer who carries everything with them so no need for lists. That's a list you can put out of your mind once you take off. Here a bunch of nice packing lists to compare to ones you have already created: https://www.campanda.com/magazine/rv...sts-printable/

You have a definite schedule for when you have to return so just highlight your main, important stops and fill in as you go if you have time to do more in the surrounding areas.

You're going to get overwhelmed if you plan out every single detail. It will be more like a job! Have fun with it!!
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Old 09-29-2022, 05:43 PM   #12
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Unless you are constrained by time, be flexible. Enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

We have found that over last 2 years, it is best to have a good idea of where you want to stay on weekends and holidays, and make reservations, as needed.

We enjoy finding a neat place and staying for longer than planned. On one trip, we had planned to stay a week in Wisconsin - we ended up staying and exploring for 5 weeks.

Don't let TMI become a burden. I think of planning as a mechanism to remove unknowns and risks. Plan to the level that makes you comfortable and yields a fun, rewarding, and safe trip.
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Old 09-30-2022, 11:15 AM   #13
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I use Google Sheets (spreadsheet) and make two tabs. One is in calendar format and the other in tabular format. Sure, having to edit both for any change can be annoying it's very convenient for planning and tracking travels and what is happening what days. Since I also work when traveling I can keep track of time off and my availability.

The tabular info givens me addresses, reservation confirmation numbers, distances and estimates drive times that I round to half hours, check-in/out times and what amenities are at the stop so I know if I need to dump or fill, plus any links to the facility. Its also color coded.

Since this is a Google product it's on my Google Drive and accessible anywhere I have internet access.

I don't plan food in advance. I just look at the calendar and decide if I need to stop at a grocery store or not in route.

Sire note: I travel with a purpose with fixed time/destinations for the events I go to, so I plan stops. Those with more flexibility don't need to be as organized.
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Old 09-30-2022, 11:50 AM   #14
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Wow...am I crazy or just irresponsible . Seems some people way overthink things...

1. I pick my destination
2. Make a list of the things I need (if I forget something, try and buy it on the way)
3. Make note of some cool stuff along the way (go see it, don't go see it)
4. Try to make sure that nothing is going to hurt me or my MH along the way
5. Keep an eye on the weather
6. Use what maps I can (paper, Google, others...)
7. Make sure I don't run out of gas

Why would I need anything else?? If things go sideways...just deal with it.
If planning is your thing...more power to ya!
Seems like it takes some of the mystery and fun out of it.
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