This year for the holidays, we decided to do something a little different. Instead of staying at home or visiting family for Christmas, we planned to take a family vacation to Boston throughout the entire holiday. That’s a family vacation for 4 days and 3 nights.
The planning phase of this trip had me rethinking my usual process, and how my new Android Prime tablet could help in the process.
You see, previously, I would make the hotel reservations and plan out the trip on Google Maps, and then print it all out on paper that I would keep in the compartment in my car door for quick reference during the trip.
This year, I decided to finally do things entirely electronically. Of course, this only works if you have a co-pilot who is willing to review your research on your tablet during the drive – these days, the last thing you want to do is get pulled over by the police trying to read directions off of your tablet while you’re trying to drive.
By using the tablet instead of printouts, I realized how much easier and more convenient the trip could be. Instead, I used the nifty PDF995 tool for Windows to convert all of my research to PDF, and then used the Polaris Office app [No Longer Available] to view these PDF documents during the trip.
Really, you could use just about any PDF viewer to view your saved trip research documents at any time.
Researching For Your Trip
The nice thing about doing research for a trip on the web these days is that everything is printable. For example, after making reservations on Orbitz for our hotel in Boston using my home PC, I noticed a useful little “Print” button in the upper right hand corner.
Clicking on “Print”, I was able to print the reservation to a PDF file using PDF995.
I did this for nearly every aspect of our trip, including things like hotel reservations, restaurant reservations, Google Maps directions, and event details for thing going on in Boston during the holidays.
Once you have all of that trip research accumulated in your research folder, all you have to do is get those PDF files onto your tablet so that they’re easily accessible during the trip.
If you’re using an Android device, whether it’s a tablet or a smartphone, the easiest and fastest way to do that is to use the Airdroid app that Jessica recently reviewed. Airdroid is sweet, because all you have to do is click on “Upload”, and then drag all of the PDF files from the directory where you stored them into the AirDroid upload box.
All of the files are instantly uploaded to your device. Now you’re ready to roll.
Using Your Documents During a Trip
Nothing proves the value of doing good research before a trip than when you’re actually on your trip and using the information that you dug up.
During the drive, I just started the tablet, opened up the PDF printout of the Google Maps directions, and handed it to my wife to take me through each section of the trip.
This is especially useful if you’re on a limited cellular data plan and don’t want to just leave your smartphone streaming map data during the long trip. Here, you have all of the information stored right on your tablet without any need for a data connection at all.
You can browse to your stored PDF “printouts” on your Android using any Android file manager of your choice. By storing them in one folder on your Android device, accessing all of your research quickly will be a piece of cake.
I even took a Google Maps satellite printout of the area around our hotel for quick reference during our trip. Bringing along my tablet during our explorations provided us with a really quick way to double-check the street layout to avoid getting lost.
Not only that, you can add whatever layers or information you like before printing – like adding restaurants or including important landmarks before printing and saving to your tablet in PDF form.
Save important restaurant or event reservations, and then just bring along your tablet to show your reservation number or electronic tickets right at the venue. Just another way to save on paper by using your tablet.
Save your hotel reservation number and address for quick reference during your trip, or to call up right at the front desk when you’re checking in. All of the information is right at your fingertips by calling up the PDF printout, without the need to dig through your bags trying to dig out the folded up paper printout that you lost during the mad dash from the parking garage to the front desk.
Of course, most of your research will involve finding fun events that you can take your family to. Again, saving those details to a PDF file and saving them on your tablet will let you quickly call them up from your hotel room the night before. Plan out your next day during your vacation without using a shred of paper. With your tablet – your entire trip can be managed electronically.
It seems like a fairly simple concept, but not many people realize that those three steps – saving to PDF, uploading to your tablet and then using your tablet during the trip – can save a lot of paper and can save you many headaches during your trip. You won’t have to worry about losing all of those printouts – rest assured that everything you need for the trip is stored safely away on your tablet.
All you need to accomplish this is a tool to save from your PC to PDF files, a tool to upload those files to your tablet, and then an Android app to view PDF files. You can use PDF995, AirDroid, and Polaris Office like I did in the examples here, or you can use whatever other tools you prefer. The point is this – the new way to plan and manage trips is electronic. Try it on your next holiday!
Do you manage your trips electronically yet? Have you noticed that it’s a lot more convenient? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments section below.
Image Credit: Couple of Tourists via Shutterstock