I have written about some tools I have tried for travel planning before, including Evernote and Trello. Then I discovered Notion in mid-2018. I was hooked and started using it for more and more things. It is great for storing information and planning. I had an extensive work trip in November 2018 and used Notion for travel planning for the first time. After that I used Notion again to plan my family vacation in April 2019. Again, it worked well. If you are interested in how I use Notion for travel planning, keep on reading!
Notion for pre-trip research
When I planned my work trip the year before, I had created a template to capture my research on each destination I planned to visit. I amended a travel template provided by Notion. The ability to create a template to use repeatedly is one of the impressive features of Notion. I created the template once and each time I click on it, Notion automatically creates a page for me to move to the relevant place before I fill in the details I have learned from my research.
For our April 2019 vacation, I knew the beginning and end destination of our trip. We were planning a road trip from Knysna to Cape Town, but I was not sure where we would spend the days in between or how long we would spend in each destination. I wanted to ensure that we had sufficient time to explore all the towns and places of interest from Knysna to Cape Town, so I started doing research on each town in the area. Sites like TripAdvisor made this easy. I also used posts from travel blogs I had previously saved in Evernote.
I used my previously created template to create a separate Notion page for each town. As you can see in the pictures above and below, the template includes tables for sights to see and restaurants to try, a list of possible hotels to stay at, and useful webpages. The tables included columns for the cost of each item, tags to categorize each item, the URL, comments based on reviews read or important information to remember. I also included a tick box to keep track of the items we visited and which not. This may be useful if we ever get to the same destination again. Researching each town took long, but was the most important step in planning our travel itinerary.
The completed destination pages helped me to see how much there was to do and see in each town. Based on the information collected, I then decided on the priority sights and restaurants to visit, which helped me decide how much time we should spend in each town. I then decided in which towns we would overnight and which we would just pass through.
Creating an overall travel itinerary
From here I created an overall travel schedule with all the overnight stops. Each day’s entry includes details about the hotel I have booked, including the contact details, address and other essential information.
Another outstanding feature of using Notion for travel planning is that it allows you to see the same information in different formats. Here is the same information as above, but in a table view.
I added a map with the entire route we would follow from the beginning to the end. Although Notion allows for embedded maps, I included a screenshot of the map instead.
Identifying the main pre-trip tasks
Once I knew our overnight stops and transport requirements, I made a list of the main pre-trip tasks. This included items, such as booking flights, accommodation and car rentals.
Saving all trip documents in Notion
After completing the main pre-trip tasks, I included the booking confirmations for our flights, car rental and hotels. Some I added the booking PDFs, with others I embedded the documents from Evernote. I find it useful to have all the essential trip information together in Notion.
Notion for travel budgeting
After doing the bookings, I started a page in Notion to keep track of our travel budget and our spending.
I first created a pre-trip spending table to calculate how much items such as car rentals, hotel bookings and flights cost us. Notion’s tables allow calculations, which is perfect for budgeting spreadsheets.
I then created a table to track our spending during the trip. I updated this table each day during our trip to give me the total trip expenses when we got home.
Creating a packing or other lists in Notion
I also used Notion to create a packing list template. I have two different templates, one for work travel and one for personal travel. If I go on a work trip with personal travel days, I combine the two items from both templates. Even though the packing list may differ depending on where I travel to and the time of year, it is easy to delete items that are not relevant for a specific trip.
I also developed lists for items to purchase before our trip, and other items I needed to get done. Notion allows for lists in many formats. You can use a simple to do list or have a relational table linking items together. It is a flexible tool that allows you to get things done in the way you prefer.
Notion for travel planning: items to consider
- Although I have not tried it before, it would be easy to keep a travel diary or journal in Notion. It is something I would definitely do for a future trip. I like having a complete view of a trip from the initial planning to the total expenses for the trip to a travel diary of daily activities and experiences in one place.
- Notion does not have offline capabilities. Offline viewing is only an issue when you don’t have access to the internet. What I do is to download each page as a PDF which I then store in both Google Drive and Evernote for easy access and viewing.
- Sharing pages with friends and family is easy in Notion. This is perfect if you are travelling in a group and need to agree on an itinerary or activities.
- Notion has a web clipper, but I still prefer using Evernote for clipping blog posts and articles which I later utilise when I start my trip research in Notion.
- Notion has apps for all the platforms, and can be used on the web and syncs well. This is useful if you prefer planning on your desktop, but want to access the information for your trip on the mobile app.
Other resources on using Notion for travel planning
Here are other blog posts discussing the use of Notion for travel planning:
Notion provides many templates on their website that you can use for free. All the templates I have created are modifications of other Notion templates.
Should you try Notion for travel planning?
I have used many tools for travel planning, but none have been as robust and flexible as Notion. Notion allows you to plan and manage in ways that suit your own style. I love having everything related to my trips in one place. After completing a trip I can go back to the trip pages and see what I did, how much I spent – everything is there in a format I chose and prefer.
You can try Notion for free, but if you decide that you will pay for this wonderful tool, it only costs $4 per month. This is a very reasonable price for everything you get with Notion.
Have you tried Notion before? What other apps do you use for planning your trips and itineraries?