Using Notion for Travel Planning

I’m still on the Notion bandwagon, regardless of some of the issues they’ve been dealing with as of late (slow development, performance, etc.) and no better example of that is my counting on Notion on my recent vacation.

I needed to keep track of maps, travel itineraries, currency exchanges, menus, hotels, airlines, customs, expenses…the list goes on and on. Yes, I know there’s literally dozens of tools out there to do just this type of thing, but I wanted to put Notion through it’s paces and see if it could truly be a “trusted tool”. Here’s five places where Notion shined for me while traveling.

Master Task List

The ability to create a master task list of all the things needing to be done and then segment that list onto various pages focused by topic was a game changer for me. Here’s an example: in my master task list I added entries for everything I needed to pack, all the documents I needed in hand, things I had to do at home before we left, and things we needed to purchase. That’s a lot of things in one list. By adding categories (properties in Notion parlance) and then adding Linked Databases that filtered by the property, I was able to create dedicated pages for each stage of the trip and pull just those tasks that were applicable to those pages. Can’t do that with OneNote.

Embedded maps

Many tools support cutting and pasting maps into pages for easy reference. Notion takes it a step further by allowing you to embed working Google Maps into pages centered around specific locations. I created a Maps section on the home page for my trip and added a map for each city we planned to visit. Quick, easy, and convenient, I could not only see a location but zoom and pan without leaving Notion.

Google Docs links

Many of the materials we had for the trip were PDF files. Now since there were five of us sharing materials it was easier to place copies of the PDFs in Google Drive and share them from there. That wasn’t going to stop me from using Notion for them as well. Notion allows you to embed Google Docs into your pages or create links (including descriptions of the files) in a page for easy access.

Drag and drop reorganization

There’s almost no way to get a page layout in any tool perfectly right the first time. You start adding things to a page and then find there’s too much to keep organized or you want to reshuffle things to make more sense. Notion makes drag and drop reorganization a piece of cake. You can even take an item on a page and turn it into something else, like a bit of text into a page or a list into a table, with just a couple of clicks.

Galleries for organizing links

Pinterest has long been the place to go to collect, organize, and recall links from around the web in a visually appealing way. Notion gives you similar capabilities using their Gallery layouts. As part of my travel planning I wanted to keep track of things we’d seen, places we’d been, and things of interest related to our travels. The Gallery allows me to copy and paste links that immediate render into thumbnail images and live links to the original page. It turned into a great way to keep things organized on the fly.

Bonus: mobility

Notion is one of the best tools I’ve found at adjusting it’s pages and layouts to mobile friendly access. Lists restack, galleries realign, and task lists flow naturally. Unfortunately this is also one of Notion’s stumbling points: it’s lack of true offline access. If they’re able to get offline working in a reliable and consistent manner then this can easily be the go-to tool for my travels now and in the future.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite tool (or tools) for managing your travels?