When your daily patterns are mostly predictable, your planner needs are straightforward. You know what your home and work life consists of, and your planner needs are usually consistent from week to week.
But all this is turned on its head when traveling. What works fine at home or in the office may break down when you’re out in the world. Unpredictable things happen while traveling (which of course is part of the fun of traveling in the first place), and you need a planner that is flexible enough to handle out of the ordinary needs. This is especially true when traveling internationally. Suddenly you need information at your fingertips such as international dialing codes and time zone information that you might not normally need in your day to day life. Especially for people who travel frequently, whether for work or pleasure, you need a planner that can handle your day to day life as well as your travel needs.
Several years ago while traveling back to the US after living in Nepal, I spent 3 weeks in Paris and 3 weeks traveling around Scotland. That year I used an Exacompta Daily Pocket planner, and that little book was a champ. The book itself is tiny, light, and took up no space at all in my bag. But the page size is still substantial, and having a page for each day was great during my entire trip. I used that little book for everything. Each page had plenty of room to write flight reservation details and phone numbers of hostels I stayed in. While in Paris I took a short course in French language, and the daily pages held my lesson reminders and reading assignments. On one page I drew a map of how to get to a new friend’s apartment off the Champs-Elysees for dinner. I recorded each place I went on my journey around Scotland. In the cover pockets I tucked in slips of paper with people’s email addresses, ferry schedules and postcard stamps. I filled the pages with the location of that excellent crepe place, the quaint restaurant where we ate a delicious dinner, and the cool shops I found on the little side streets. Now it’s an excellent record of my trip, and when I look through that little book the memories come right back.
Last fall on a trip to Budapest I didn’t even bring my planner because the one I was using at the time was too bulky. Besides, I was only going for a week, surely I could live without my planner? No, of course not. I had forgotten to notify my credit card company that I was traveling, and when I used my card to pre-pay my hotel the early warning protection caused it to seize up. I needed to call the US from Hungary to rectify it. But what is the code to dial OUT of Hungary for an international call?? If I’d had my planner with me with its page of international dialing codes, I would have had that information at my fingertips. But instead, with no planner (and no internet) it took me about 30 minutes of searching and asking people before I found out it’s 00, like much of the rest of Europe. By the time I placed my call, the Fraud Protection office was closed. 5 minutes ago. So I had to wait until the next day to call. Lesson learned: don’t leave home without my planner and its list of international dialing codes!
My most recent trip was to Scotland over the holidays, and I brought along my Minister planner (with its list of international dialing codes, time zones and extensive maps, which I love). I didn’t really think I’d be using it much during my vacation. I wound up using it extensively, to my surprise.
As you may have heard, the UK had some pretty severe winter weather over the holidays. I had intended to travel within the UK during that time, but had to change my flight information and hotel reservations several times due to airport closures and impassable roads. My Minister has plenty of room in the daily columns for writing hotel reservation numbers and flight times, and the notes boxes at the side of the page allowed me to jot down the details of my often-changing reservations. I also had plenty of room in the daily columns to record what we did each day, just for fun. Now when I look back in my Minister and see those days, I fondly recall eating fish and chips at the Oban seashore or hiking in Glen Coe.
I would never consider using an electronic device as my planner, for so many reasons. I vastly prefer to have all of my important information and plans written into a book. Especially when I’m traveling, I can’t be bothered with plug adaptors for charging up the battery, worrying about it running out of juice on long hauls or while I’m out and about, or the threat of the device crashing or seizing up. I want to open my nice little book and see what I need to find right there where I wrote it. And of course, no electronic device can replicate the pleasure of, years later, flipping through my book to remember my trip!