A few months ago at work, my office started using a powerful software tool called Trello. Trello allows people to work collaboratively, keep organized and plan events. I have since incorporated all I’ve learned at work about Trello to my personal life and B and I have begun using Trello to plan travel. Because of course we would. This post will discuss how we are using Trello in the hopes that you might want to use it for travel planning. This is just one way Trello can be used, to learn more, you can go straight to the source, trello.com.
To begin using Trello to plan travel, you’ll need to visit trello.com and register. The price is $Free.99 (unless you want to go all in and start collaborating with lots and lots of different people). I would venture to say you will be just fine with the free version for your travel planning purposes.
Got It. Now How Do I Use It?
The gist behind Trello is that you will create a board for each project (read:trip). Once you have your board created, you will need to add different lists. When you are looking at the screen, lists are what run vertically. To start with, you should create lists for these topics: To Do, Doing, Done. Depending on your trip, you will want to add different lists. For a trip to Denmark and the Faroe Islands that B and I are taking next week, we added the following lists: Itinerary, Activities, Things to Know and Things to Buy.
You can really add anything that is a bigger topic that might have lots of moving parts to it. For foodies, ‘Things to Eat’ might be crucial. For a relaxing trip to Bali, ‘Spas’ might get its own billing. If you are super detail-oriented, you might want to create a list for each day of your trip that you will then be able to flesh out. Think about lists like if you were outlining a term paper. Each list would get its own Roman numeral (I, II, III, etc.).
Now that you have your lists, you will need to add some cards. Cards are the specific items that you want to make note of. So in your ‘To Do’ list, you will need a card for ‘Buy Plane Ticket’ or ‘Rent Car’ if you are just starting the planning process. If you are brainstorming and researching, go ahead and create lots of cards. Trello can be your notepad as you learn different things about the place you are going. You can always edit cards later. Create as many as you want!
It’s easy to work within the lists on Trello. When you have purchased your plane ticket, simply grab the card and drag it on over to the ‘Done’ column. Pause to feel accomplished and organized.
Trello Travel Planning = Collaboration
Remember how I said Trello allows you to work collaboratively? Well, that collaboration is what makes it a really cool travel planning tool. Once you’ve created your board, you can invite others to it. Your co-travellers can now jump in the game and start creating lists, moving cards, etc. on your trip board.
B and I have it pretty easy when it comes to travel planning because we live in the same house. But even in that scenario, we have found a Trello board helpful for keeping us organized. If you are planning a trip with someone who lives a few states over, Trello can be particularly helpful.
One reason why is because you can assign people to the cards. For example, B is taking lead on figuring out how we can fly in a helicopter from one island to another while we visit the Faroe Islands. On that card, we have listed her as the Member who needs to do something.
To add a member to a card, either click on the card or hover over the card and push M and then pick whose job the card is. Trello does all sorts of fancy stuff, so you can filter your board so you can see all of your assigned tasks in an easy view.
Another useful feature of Trello is that you can keep all of your stuff in one convenient location. On each of your cards you can put in the details of the item. So, for example, on your ‘Book Flights’ card, once you book the flight you can jot down the details of the legs and confirmation number on the card. This can live on the Done list right next to your ‘AirBnb’ card, where you’ve inputted the address and check in instructions for the place you’re staying.
You can also attach documents to your cards, so if you don’t feel like typing in the details, you can just save your confirmation email as a pdf and attach it right to the card. Open the card and select ‘Attach.’ You can link to a website or upload from your desktop.
If you already use some technology to do this, like TripIt or Google Trips, you might not think you need this feature. But I like Trello because it is so easy visually. No need to search through random emails. A bonus is that you can access your Boards offline and on your phone.
Trello allows you to create due dates for every card. This is useful if you want to remind yourself to take care of something. If B is waiting for tickets to be available for that helicopter flight and they only sell them seven days in advance, she can create a due date to reminder her when it is time to purchase. You might need to adjust your settings to set up alerts for your notifications.
Trello has special features called ‘Power Ups’ that do all sorts of stuff. Most of these you won’t need in your basic trip planning, but some are kind of cool. You get one free Power Up per board if you are on the free plan. Click ‘Show Menu’ on your board and select Power Ups. Scroll through the extensive selection and pick your poison. I suggest using this Power Up for the Calendar or the Map feature.
The calendar feature takes all of the cards that have Due Dates and organizes them into a calendar view. You can toggle back and forth between the board and the calendar to see things in a different way.
Another cool way you can use Trello to plan travel is with the map power up. When you put a location on a card and enable the map power up, you can see, well, a map of these different features. When you click on the location in Trello, it will open the card so you can see the details.
Making it Pretty
While the power of Trello is found in the lists and cards, the aesthetically pleasing part is also important. Who wants a lame looking board? Bo-ring. You can change the background of your board and make it relate to where you are going. For a beach trip, you can find a nice sunset to be your background. For the Faroe Island trip, I went with a landscape of cliffs and the ocean. On the ‘Show Menu’ tab, select ‘Change Background.’ Click Photos and type whatever you want to see in the search bar.
I have saved several pictures of places and added these as attachments to my cards. Just text is super boring and pictures of the items make them pop out and easier to find.
Trip planning is fun and using a tool like Trello can make it fun and collaborative. Once you get the hang of the tool, I think you’ll find yourself not only using Trello to plan travel, but to plan lots of aspects of your life.