My last blog post before the holiday season was about planning an awesome road trip and finding unique (and affordable) accommodation. This post is about something that is equally important for planning, and that is using online tools at your disposal to make planning easier. I’ll use a trip I took to Montreal last year as an example.
1. Google Maps
Being a recent Android convert, it is suiting that the first two items on this list are Google related =) On short road trips, I like to make use of my visit so that I’m not wasting any time thinking of what to do next. “Winging it” has its place, but not when I am only spending a few days in a city. I start by creating a list of places I want to see, restaurants I want to eat at and routes to get there. I like using Google Maps and marking all of these plotted locations on a saved map. Saving the map allows you to go back to these plans at any time, and you can share it with those you are traveling with. I like to colour-coordinate and use different icons to differentiate the types of places they are. If I really have time on my hands, I might add the phone number, address and website into the plotted location’s details. I like to start with plotting the locations on the map, so I can plan my route accordingly based on where things are located. Also with Google Streetview you can practically visit the location you will travel to ahead of time to know what to expect.
2. Google Docs – Spreadsheet
While I am plotting my map locations, I am simultaneously making a spreadsheet of the places I want to go to. There is something really magical about columns and rows of neatly organized information! When planning a trip, you often are planning with other people, and here is where Google comes in handy with their Google Documents. You can create a spreadsheet (or word document, powerpoint, etc) and share it with other people. It gets updated live as you change it, and it centralizes all your planning efforts. This is the second place I would throw in all the details like phone number, address and website, in case I don’t have the Google Maps handy.
3. Gas Calculator
If you notice on my spreadsheet, I also like to monitor how much I am expected to spend on the trip in a separate column. Online gas calculators are handy to let you know how much gas money you will be spending if going on a road trip. This will be good to know if you are splitting it between passengers. This image above was pulled from http://www.ontariogasprices.com.
Finally (sometimes I do this first), before I make final decisions on where I will be spending my time on a trip, I like to double check what other travelers have to say about it on http://www.tripadvisor.com. Hearing someone else’s good or bad experience firsthand is a great way to tell if a place will be worth visiting or not, especially if it is a big ticket item like accommodations. This is also a great place to start if you don’t know where to go or what to eat, since you can look up the top rated things to do and places to eat.
Rebecca Chan is a Toronto wedding planner and day of wedding coordinator providing sophisticated planning for the style-savvy couple. Whether you need planning assistance or wedding day coordination, Rebecca can help you create your dream wedding day. Contact her today, she'd love to hear from you.