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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Backing Up and Organizing Your Travels Part 1 4.25.12

Ever had a horrible hotel experience? Check out mine at Interiors & Sources magazine. I realize now that this is the experience that has made me so obsessive about travel planning.

When you’re planning for vacation, do you end up with endless pieces of paper for hotels, car rentals and other stuff you’re doing? I know I do, but instead of printing out every last thing that I may or may not need, I now have learned that putting it all together online is a better method and helps me to know exactly where everything is and what I’m still needing. Once I go on my trip, I can print out the necessary things (3 pages vs 42 is easier to carry) and have a back-up for myself that isn’t attached to just my email. I also like to back-up and organize on-the-go, because if my camera gets stolen or I lose it, I will cry my eyes out over all the photos I’ve lost. This is why uploading at the end of each day to “the cloud” or online program is fancy, convenient and helps eliminate the needless worry of impending photo lossage. Yeah, I just made that word up!


Don’t let tragedy make you sadder than it has to. Use a back-up – or several – to keep everything within your reach, even when you lose papers, cameras, your laptop, phone or all your worldly (travel) possessions are stolen.


TripIt.com – Don’t you hate carrying around a novel worth of confirmations and check-in sheets with you while you’re in transit? Sometimes, it takes up so much room, you could have fit in an extra outfit. I have a secret, which is not SO secret anymore, but if you don’t know about TripIt, then you will jump up and down for joy. Okay, maybe just on the inside. Not only can you add an infinite number of things to your itinerary online, but you have space to write in confirmation numbers, phone numbers, addresses, times, who you talked to and how much it all cost you (helping you keep track of your budget…effortlessly!).

Are you dreading now having to input all that stuff more than carrying the stack of papers around? This is the coolest part: You can email your confirmations to TripIt, via their special email address and they will suck all the useful info out for you and instantly updates your itinerary. It says it can take a few hours, but when I’ve done it, it has been a matter of minutes. It’s magic, I tell you! Now, it doesn’t work with all confirmation emails, but many of them. I haven’t tried dining reservations, but I’ll be doing it for sure on my next trip.


Once you have your whole trip planned and input into TripIt goodness, you can share it with everyone you like (although, you can do that anytime) and even post the less detailed version on Facebook, so everyone you know can be jealous…and start plotting the raid of your house. Print out your complete trip plan before you go and whittle down your paperwork from War and Peace to a funner version of Pat the Bunny. And if you want to go totally paperless, get the app and view it all on your smartphone.
Shutterfly – If you take a ton of pictures like I do, it would be a serious tragedy if you lost all of them while on vacation. You would not see a meltdown so big unless I was shot in the leg or found out I had some sort of incurable disease. This is why I do multiple photo uploads on my travels. It may not be every day, but it depends on how many I took that day. The more often you upload, the less time it will take. I travel with a netbook, so when I get back to my hotel/apartment/timeshare/ship cabin in the evening, I pull the SD card out of my camera and dump all my photos. Once I have internet, I select and copy all of them to my Shutterfly folder. This way, if something happens to my netbook or my camera or my SD card all is not lost. Shutterfly has taken over what was once Photoworks, but the merge has made them much easier to use and uploading and editing is so much simpler. (If you currently use Kodak Gallery, Snapfish or York Photos, they will work just as well to keep your photos safe.)


We’ll talk about the rest of my favorite back-up organizational sites for planning and traveling in the next post. It will give you enough time to check out the first two and give them a shot. If you’re planning a vacation right now, even better!

If you currently use TripIt or Shutterfly, what do you think of them?
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