I’ve alluded to this simple and obvious way of keeping track of things, but people seemed interested, so I thought I would elaborate. This may seem mind-numbingly simple considering how smart the readership is on this site, but it’s still so crucial for me, it’s worth sharing.
Sometimes the simple things are the things that save the most time and money. Forgetting to cancel can cost money. Simply put.
I can’t remember if I have or haven’t booked a hotel.
This seems like a dumb problem, but I’m a hotel window shopper who lives out of hotels. I book more hotels than anyone else I know.
What happens is that I book a hotel and forget and continue to shop for hotels. Which is an absurd waste of time. OR I don’t have one and forget to look. OR don’t bother booking speculatively because I’ll forget.
The solution is so simple, add my reservation to google calendar. It’s painfully simple, but I’ll go ahead and show you my system in the calendar and why I do it this way.
1) As soon as I’m on the confirmation page of any booking, I then add it to google calendar.
* If it has an oddly early cancelation time, I may add that cancelation time to the calendar as well, as its own event.
2) I change the date to include the nights I’ll sleep there.
I used to do it with no consistency, and then I couldn’t figure out if the listed date was my check out date or not. Now I do not include the check out date on my calendar. That blank space is the day I check out. But it’s blank because I need to find a hotel that night.
3) Format is “hotel name/brand + Location + (name of person checking in)”
Typically I keep it short so I can see our names in the calendar, so it doesn’t shorten the event. This way, before check in, a quick scan of the calendar and we know whose name the reservation is under.
Here’s an example: IC Mumbai (Drew)
The technical name might be “InterContinental Marine Drive Mumbai”, but it would be shortened by Google calendar and my name would be cut off. So “IC” is fine, as there’s only one in Mumbai. And again, I always include the location, like “Mumbai”.
If both of us have a room booked, then it would say “IC Mumbai (Drew + Carrie)”.
I book mistake fares all over and forget about them.
Set an email alert.
Sometimes there are seasons of mistake fares and it’s hard to keep them all straight. Sometimes it doesn’t matter because I cancel them if they aren’t where I want to go.
You may remember that I had a packed calendar of mistake fares booked for nearly two months straight. Turns out, I didn’t use any of those bookings. This isn’t but so uncommon as sometimes I line them up and then knock them all down, and sometimes decide it’s not the right place.
See, I’m a speculative booker. Very much so.
This is impossible to keep straight without a system. Specifically without alerts.
How to set alerts
- Click on your event
- Click Edit
- Go to Reminders
- Change the reminder drop down box to “Email”
- I usually set mine to the day before the cancelation deadline
I can’t remember what my exact dates for travel are so I go around digging through emails in order to find my flight or train info.
This is something I still do manually, but it can be completely automated to have travel plans added automatically to your google calendar via TripIt. Well, mostly automated.
You simply forward your travel confirmation emails to TripIt, and then TripIt adds all those details to your calendar. However, I think Traxo (a new competitor) actually has the ability to automatically update to google calendar by having your travel account login info (it works with most major travel companies but I did have a couple examples of it reading the information wrong when I booked on a foreign site (they list dates differently and things)).
In this game, staying organized is key. And nowadays (well really since my harddrive crashed last summer) I’m all about the cloud! Google does free cloud storage pretty well, especially since I’m so hooked on Gmail.
But simply having everything in one account, is awesome. Actually all my travels are under google.com/calendar with all the info I need.
Another tool I use all the time, relating to miles and points, is google drive. Like the spreadsheets! Everything is in spreadsheets. Frequent flyer numbers, credit cards, even every hotel we’ve stayed at, it’s all in a spreadsheet.
Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of google – it’s just the best technology.