I’m off to Europe later this year! This is the biggest trip I’ve done to date – almost 7 weeks. I’ve used various methods for travel planning in the past including a printable planner, bullet journal and attempted to (but quickly abandoned) various travel apps.
For this trip I wanted something I could use to keep everything in the one place. Enter: Excel spreadsheets!
I started out with a budget spreadsheet and ended up with a few spreadsheets to organize everything:
1. Handy info reference page
2. To do list
4. Attractions (and their cost)
5. Itinerary by Month
6. Itinerary by Week
7. Flight Comparison
8. Accommodation Comparison
9. Car Rental Comparison
10. Transfer comparison
11. Tour comparisons
12. Travel insurance
13. Spending Tracker
14. Before We Leave Checklist
15. Packing List
16. Outfit Planner
The spreadsheets can be used for any / every domestic and international trip. I also used these spreadsheets for a quick 10 day road trip around New Zealand and they worked great – simple, quick and easy – I wish I thought to use Excel for trip planning sooner!
Here’s a look into my trip planning process – I hope it gives you a few ideas!
To enlarge the screen of the video, click the square icon in the bottom right hand corner of the video (it will say ‘full screen’ when you hover your mouse over the icon).
Handy Info reference page
I find this overview page helpful as a catch all for that random info that doesn’t really have a place e.g. the dates we’re leaving, how much annual leave each person has and what dates (if coordinating multiple schedules), what currencies are needed etc.
To Do List
Since I’m travelling with others I included a column to put who is responsible for planning what. I color coded by country e.g. yellow = Finland.
This spreadsheet is specifically for things to book, research or check. I created a separate spreadsheet with things to do before we leave e.g. convert currencies, print itinerary, apply for visa etc.
I wanted to compare budget versus actual and have the totals for each travel expense automatically calculate. So what tool could be more perfect than Excel? This is the reason I ended up creating spreadsheets for everything in Excel – I already had the budget so figured I may as well keep everything in the one place.
There are pre-filled expenses (and space to add your own) for:
- Tours & attractions
Itinerary by Month
This is one of my favorite spreadsheets and the one I go to first when planning a big trip. I can see the entire holiday in front of me. A great overview page.
Excel makes it easy to rearrange things too – just cut and paste.
I always color code my itineraries – it makes it much easier to follow. I can also see if I’m spending too much time in one place. I typically try not to spend more than 5 days in one country per trip so it doesn’t get too same same and because there’s so many places to see!
Itinerary by Week
Since Europe is a big trip I’ve opted to use Visit a City. However I created a weekly itinerary spreadsheet for my recent New Zealand road trip. Visit a City, like the name suggests, only has cities as it not ideal for planning road trips. This spreadsheet is a good overview if you don’t want to schedule things out in 30 minute timeslots (like I do with the Visit a City tool).
I wanted a spreadsheet to compare flight times and flight prices. I know there are online tools like SkyScanner but print outs from websites are never formatted nicely and to be honest I’d never look at them again. I wanted one place to compare everything so I had separate lines for each route and each airline I was comparing. I much prefer this format for quick and easy comparison.
This is the finished product after I’ve chosen (and booked!) the flights. I deleted all of the ones I didn’t book (so this spreadsheet was a lot more messy when it was a work in progress!)
I’ll be doing another post here on the blog with my process for choosing a hotel but this is the spreadsheet I use to organize it all:
There’s lots of info to keep track of and with multiple destinations it’d be impossible to remember them all. I enter in about 3 – 4 hotel options in each destination (color coded of course!) and then can compare. Once I’ve chosen and booked the hotel, I delete the others from the spreadsheet (you could also hide the cells if you want backup options / something goes wrong once you get there and the hotel has overbooked etc.)
If you’re doing a road trip and need to know which have parking included for free you could type over the ‘luggage storage?’ heading and replace it with ‘parking?’ (or just put if it has parking in the notes column).
While researching what attractions I want to go to, I also record the cost (rather than wasting time going back to check). By recording the cost I can also check if I’m over or under-budget. I usually come up with a big list and then may scrap things. Note that the attractions list is different to the tours list. The tours spreadsheet I use for half day and full day organized trips, the attractions list is things like boat cruises, paid viewpoints, museums etc.
This spreadsheet is also useful for working out whether a city pass / discount cards are worth the money.
You could put the opening hours in the notes section but Visit a City automatically keeps track of this for me so I didn’t bother.
Still a lot of things to add for this trip!
I use these for day trips. Viator (not sponsored) is my go to for day trips. It gives me ideas of what’s popular and I also use it to compare whether it’s cheaper to get there myself (e.g. train) or if I should join an organized bus tour.
Keep track of all your transport:
- To and from airports
- Day trips e.g. train
- Bus transfers between cities
- Number of underground trips e.g. how much to pre-load on an Oyster card in London
- Compare the cost of buying one off tickets versus a 24 hour pass
I’ve found this really helpful for comparing whether it’s more cost effective to get the train and do a day trip ourselves instead of joining an organized tour.
Car Rental Comparison
I don’t need this spreadsheet this time around – no way am I brave enough to drive in Europe especially if I’m going to places where the road signs are in another language!
I did use this spreadsheet for my New Zealand road trip – the column / table format makes it really easy to compare different quotes.
Self explanatory. I do my comparison in this spreadsheet recording things like the excess, how much medical cover is included, whether I need to pay extra to insure my laptop etc. Once I’ve chosen I highlight in bold. Or you could just delete the rows.
If you’re travelling by yourself, use these to record your spending as you go. I.e. stop trying to piece together receipts and bank statements when you get back (especially if you’re traveling for work)
Traveling with friends or family? Don’t worry about trying to split the bill at dinner – record who paid for what in the spending tracker
Before We Leave Checklist
I transferred my printable before we leave checklist into Excel and since I’m travelling with up to 3 other people for parts of this trip, added a column for who is responsible.
Pre-filled but with space to add your own. Conveniently categorised into:
– Documents to Take
I feel the cold so like to be prepared for all weather conditions. But I also don’t want to overpack (gotta leave room for chocolate and stationery). So instead of trying to remember what the temperature will be at each place, I created this spreadsheet.
Record the high and low temperature, as well as the usual number of days rain during the month you’re visiting each destination. Now you have a good idea what weather to pack for.
It may seem like a lot of spreadsheets but it’s so much less stressful with everything organized and color-coded in the one place for quick reference. I’ve found travel planning peace <3
About the spreadsheets:
- Add and delete columns as you please
- Formulas are already set up e.g. budget spreadsheet
- Filters (e.g. by city or country)
- You can print the spreadsheet when you’re finished
- Since you’ll be doing your hotel research using a computer it’s convenient to pop it straight in digitally
- Because it’s digital you can email yourself a copy for backup and don’t have to worry about losing paper
- You can adjust the spreadsheets
- Dates pre-fill on the itinerary spreadsheets
- Keep all your research organized and in the one place – the spreadsheet is set up for easy comparison
See Part 2 of my itinerary planning process + the other half of my travel itinerary template in this post.
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