I like an organized trip folder for maps, info about my accommodations, lists of places to eat, parks and museums, transportation particulars, itineraries (by day and week, rain and shine versions). I include tips and tricks re: local customs, copies of important documents like my passport and insurance card, and a short list of courtesy words, since I am pathetically monolingual. You may think I am wee bit on the compulsive side of data gathering. I prefer to think of it as a bespoke travel guide.
A couple of days ago I spread out all the information I’ve collected on Paris and Amsterdam. I used our biggest coffee table, since Robert commandeered the dining room table for taxes.
I consolidated and discarded and snapped holes for a three ring binder, my usual MO. After a few days of sorting, it looks like this (below). Upper left is the Amsterdam folder, the Paris folder is open on the right. Newly printed maps in the center.
Today I compiled and cross-referenced lists of cafes, restaurants, bistros, and foodie street markets from my sources – recommendations from friends, Time Out Paris online, TripAdvisor, memoirs, blogs, and random suggestions. I created a personal Google map of the most promising places in the areas I expect to frequent. I printed out a couple of versions – one with the detailed list of name address and description, one that’s just the venue name and address. While I was in the ring with Google maps, (which I can make work, but it’s not pretty) I made another for parks and small museums. If I had better Google Map skills, I’d figure out how to do this in layers, but comparing the printouts side by side gives me a decent overview. If there is a church, a museum, a park, and a bisto/cafe all nearby, I’m golden.
I’ll have one or the other with me when I hit the streets. Sure, I should be able to find the map using my phone, and work out navigation, but – you never know. Batteries run down. Also, staring down at my phone is the opposite of being present in the Parisian moment. I can glance at a bit of folded paper in my hand and go forth, taking it all in. Belt and suspenders, that’s me.