Sunday, 29 January 2012

Excel-lent planning!

I'm a planner. Even before we book a trip I'm already planning for it. Things to do, places to go, food to eat, what I'd love to do again, what I'd love to try etc etc. So many ideas spin around and around like the Mad Hatters tea cups, it can be hard to keep track of them! I'm always worried I'll forget too. It could be forgetting to pack something, forgetting an idea I had for the trip or loosing a confirmation number.

I write everything down, scraps of paper here and there, notebooks or the back of bus tickets, but keeping them all in the one place can be a little tricky! Many of my ideas have ended up on a quick cycle through the washing machine and never lived to tell the tale! So of course, for me, going 'digital' with my planing was sure to be a winner.

Thats where Microsoft Excel comes in! When I was in school, all we ever learnt to do with Excel was making spreadsheets, graphs and macros, merging cells and making data look pretty. They never told us what an amazing Walt Disney World trip organiser it would be! (and subsequently, any other trips you take too!) I've never found organising my planning so easy!

Page tabs

With the ability to create multiple pages in the same document quick and easy, it's ideal for keeping all your planning together in one place. The tabs option means unlike Microsoft Word, you're not having to scroll through countless pages to get to the section you're looking for! Above are a few of the tabs I use for my own planning spreadsheets. Sectioning off different aspects of the planning make it easier to not only look for something, but also to add something in.

Opening times

When I know what parks I'll be visiting on the trip, Disney and non-Disney (Universal, Busch Gardens etc) I put them all in one giant table (as above), meaning I can quickly go through the table to find the hours for a day in question, for example if you're looking to book an ADR or want to know which day Universal is open the longest etc. It's all there infront of you, making your planning simplier and easier.

Adding in a quick, less detailed itinerary lets you see at a glance what you've got planned, especially if you've got immovable days, for instance days you're venturing offsite and have had to book transport. You don't want to go making a lunch reservation at Le Cellier when you'll be in Busch Gardens for the day!

Itinerary at a glance

Do you have a smartphone? Before I leave for my trip, I always email the planning Excel document to myself and open it up on my phone whilst I'm still on my home Wifi. This means that once I've arrived, I can access my planning document from my iPhone without incurring any data charges! The spreadsheet is easy to read, with all your tabs displayed along the top, and you can zoom in and out on each page. Whilst I'm out and about in the parks I can check times for the other parks, and have a copy of my reservation number for any ADRs I've made. I also like to keep a gift list in the planner so I don't forget any goodies for friends and family!

Spreadsheet open in the iPhone

Planning on Excel has really made everything so simple for me. I still make my paper notes and lists, but I transfer it all over to the Excel spreadsheet as soon as possile! No more juggling pieces of paper, jumbling up confirmation numbers and transport reservations when I'm just looking for opening times. It's all there, safe and sound in the one location! With a trip on the horizon, I will be making a fresh planning document so keep checking back for some tips and tutorials if you're interested in making your own!

How do you plan?

Until next time,

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