17 Days Until San Diego! - The Travel Often Blog - thetraveloftenblog.com

How to Plan your Next Vacation: Part 4

This morning I am busy planning more for my trip to San Diego! I’ve fallen a bit behind on my planning, so now it is crunch time!  Lucky for me, I am practically done with the planning and am almost on to the FUN!

This is part FOUR of my how-to-plan series.

In PART 1, I looked for destinations on Pinterest and showed you how I use Pinterest boards to create a list of dream stops for any destination.  This part was the most fun, but also the most mindless.  I just click-and-pin anything that sounds interesting, no reading just yet!

In PART 2, I started to filter those pins.  I started clicking all the links and browsing the websites.  Those that didn’t seem relevant or weren’t interesting, I deleted.  The ones that did feel like a great fit, I transferred over to Pocket!

In PART 3, I read through those articles and blog posts I saved to Pocket, and started to take notes on things I wanted to do while I was in San Diego.

Now, in PART 4 I will be taking that list of stops and putting them together in a Map!  I use Google Map for this.

Creating Your Map!

Google Map can be used for more than just getting directions.  If you access maps through a Google Drive account, you can create multi-point maps that will gather all your destinations into one big-picture map.




Adding Points and Layers!

Once you do this, you are able to begin adding points and layers.  I always start by adding in multiple layers where I will be able to sort my points into.  I always add a new layer for each day that I will be at my destination.



Add Layer, then click the three vertical dots next to the “Untitled Layer” header to change the name of the layer.



Click “Rename this Layer.” You may also use these three vertical dots to delete a layer.



Rename the layer and click save.  I name them each after the days of the week that I will be planning for.

Typically, I will add all my points to one day of the week, and move them around once a pattern starts to appear.  I typically sort my destinations by relative areas, putting things in the same area on the same days.  Do whatever works for you!



This is the part where you start adding your destinations to the map!  I just went down my entire list from the last step.  Adding them one at a time.  Be sure you are paying extra close attention to the addresses it is pulling up.  Make sure they are all the one’s you are looking for.  As you can see with my example above, the Children’s Pool Beach I am looking for is in La Jolla, and it is the top result.  But there is also an option from Evansville, IN.  Be sure to plot the correct ones!



Once you click on the correct destination from the search bar, Google will add a temporary point (in lime green) onto your map.  You must click “+Add to map” in order for this point to save onto your map.



Once you add it, you can also change the color of each point on your map.  I will color code my points by general location (or the day of the week I’m going to be visiting them).  I also use a separate color for food destinations to check out.



One point down, many more to go!



This is what my final map looks like! Yikes! That’s a lot of information.  Don’t worry, there is an easy way to organize this map, too!


Organizing Your Map!


Turning all my food points to a different color allows me to easily see which is a destination and is a place to grab a bite to eat.  While I love trying new foods on vacation, I don’t consider myself a foodie.  I would much rather see the sights and get to know the areas I’m visiting.  Food is not quite as high on my priority list.  If I get to check them out, Great! If not, I’ll save it for my next visit!

Once you have your destinations added to the map, you can also add information that is specific to the location.  For example, if there are certain hours for the location, or if there is an event you want to check out.


Click on the point you want to edit, click the edit pencil in the bottom right corner of the display box.  A text box will then open up for you to add notes to the destination.  In the above example, there is a free concert at the East Plaza Gazebo every Sunday at Seaport Village.

I will use that information to decide when I should try to visit this destination.  I will turn the point to match the color assigned to “SUNDAY” and will visit that destination on Sunday.  If two events have conflicting days of the week, I’ll decide which i want to visit more, or will try to find time to visit both, but will need to plan my day around it!


Google allows you to toggle off or on each layer.  Above, Friday and Saturday (and my food destinations) are toggled ON, but Sunday and Monday are Toggled OFF.  You can use the check box next to each layer header to toggle these off and on.


That makes it really easy to look at each individual day’s itinerary.  ABOVE is my general Itinerary for Friday!


Toggle OFF Friday and turning on Saturday, I’m able to see the next day’s list of destinations. I always keep the food destinations ON as well, so I know where to eat!


Using Your Map!

You can take a screen shot of these maps (crtl+shift+3 on Windows, cmmd+shift+3 on Mac!) and print them out.  In this case, I would create a key for each point on the map, so you know what you’re looking at.  You can also access these maps directly from your phone, using Google Drive and opening them on your web browser.

This is as far as I typically go for planning.  I like to keep my vacations flexible.  I try to get to as many destinations on the list as I can, and if I don’t get to them all, it’s just another excuse to visit again!

I do have a couple of events planned for the day that take place on specific dates and times.  I’ll be sure to make a note of those in my planner, and then work other destinations in around those structured ones during my visit.

That’s it!  That’s how I plan my trips.  What are your vacation planning secrets?



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