Updated: Aug 25, 2022
Whether hopping in the car for a road trip, or jet setting across the globe for Summer fun, all your travel dates and details can quickly become a complicated mess without a solid system for keeping all your information straight. This becomes even more complex when coordinating with in-laws, or on group vacations with other families. Travel planning stress can take away from the whole purpose of taking trips in the first place: unwinding and reconnecting.
Luckily, there are many ways that technology can help you, from streamlining your calendars, to sharing important reservation details, as well as sharing memories of your trip with ease. Our digital organizers are sharing their favorite hacks for using tech to improve your travel experience.
1. Create Shared Calendars.
It is incredibly easy to create a new calendar for both iCloud and Google users, devoted solely to your Summer travel plans. Here is a quick guide to setting up a new calendar on Google that you can share with any or all other people on your travel itinerary. Once you have created a new calendar, we recommend using the built in color coding option to visibly differentiate the portions of your trip you are still planning from the ones that are fully booked. This way, everyone is clear on where you are in the planning stages.
The great thing about these calendars is that many people can add and track updates so that when hiccups or changes arise (and they will), everyone will remain in the loop, and you will avoid the headache of missed connections or crossed wires.
A great feature of Google calendars is that you can attach documents. So you never have to carry around a folio of printed out boarding passes and car rental vouchers again! Simply select the calendar event, select the paper clip icon, and attach documents that can be instantly accessed on the go by anyone in your group.
2. Setup Automated Photo Organizing With Smart Albums.
Smart Albums in Apple Photos are a great way to automatically gather and display photos that meet specific criteria you specify. That way, the post-trip organizing can begin while you're still enjoying all the fun! For example, you can create a Smart Album that automatically collects photos based on the dates of your vacation.
If you want to create a Smart Album on your Mac, just follow these steps:
1. Click File in the menu bar and then choose New Smart Album.
2. In the window that appears, enter a smart album name (such as "Bahamas 2022"). Then click + button and select the criterion from the drop-down menu (such as date captured). Repeat this step for each criterion that describes what kinds of photos belong in this album (for example, add more criteria such as People or Places).
4. Click OK when finished creating your Smart Album!
If you're planning to leave your computer at home, you can set up Smart Albums in Photos on your Mac before you go. This will allow you to begin the process of organizing all of your vacation photos together without needing to rely on an iPhone or iPad. However, this won't work in reverse: Smart Albums won't appear in Photos on an iPhone or iPad. Therefore, Smart Albums cannot be relied on as an "on-the-go" organizing solution, but should be setup to auto-populate either prior to leaving or upon your return.
Google Photos offers a similar AI organizing solution with their auto-updating albums feature.
3. Know the most efficient Photo Sharing options.
Once you have planned and coordinated the perfect Summer trip, it’s time for the fun to begin. These breaks from everyday life mean irreplaceable memories with your children and other loved ones. If you are traveling in a group, there are often multiple photographers. We know you’ll def want grandma to share her cute snaps of the kiddos with the rest of the group, so here are some of the best, and most efficient ways tech can help you do that.
AirDrop on iPhone - This is a great solution for those who have access to a strong WiFi connection. For anyone in your group with iPhones, simply select a photo, or a cluster of photos you want to share from your phone’s camera library. When you click “share” make sure you point your iPhone in the direction of the other iPhone, and tap the AirDrop button. This is a great way to share multiple pictures at once and on the spot.
Shared Albums - If you and your travel companions are all iCloud users, shared albums can be a more organized solution to AirDrop. They let you share photos and videos with specific people — and those people can add their own photos, videos, and comments.That way, everyone is dropping all photos they are willing to share into one place, and vacation companions can choose to save or ignore whichever pictures they please! Important to note! If someone else is the owner of a shared album, you must import the photos into your own library in order to save them to your collection. Otherwise, if the shared album ever gets deleted, you will lose access to all of the photos. You can do this by navigating to the shared album, right-clicking on the photo you want to save, and select import.
Google Photos - Google photos is an alternative photo management system to iCloud. Installing the Google Photos app on your smartphone enables you to free up storage on your phone, so that you don’t have to delete anything to make room for more images. Like Apple Photos, it has many interactive features such as facial recognition, and location sorting so that your photos are organized as they come in. You can also create slideshows, and order prints directly from the app. Google Photos does enable you to send links to your group so that they may access selected images, but some find sharing less user friendly than AirDrop and iCloud sharing.
Finally, Amazon Photos offers similar features to Google photos and Apple Photos, and is free to people with a Prime membership. You can also pair this with any Amazon Fire or Alexa products you own to view pictures and slideshows on your tv screen. You may even invite up to five family members to view your photos in a “family vault.” Amazon also allows you to create groups, so you can create a travel group or friend group to share photos with.
4. Use Your Notes App to prevent clutter.
As you enjoy your travels, the last thing you want to do is clutter up your camera roll and exciting new vacation photos with screenshots of the local restaurants you want to remember, the map of the resort, or that sign you parked under at the airport. Instead, we recommend using your notes app (Learn how with this free download, a Clutter-Free Photo Tip!). You can either import screenshots into a note, or take a photo straight from the notes app. That way, it doesn't ever hit your camera roll and clutter up your photos.
5. Use a Password Manager.
If you're accessing online accounts while traveling, it's important to make sure they're secure. Password managers can help.
A password manager is a service that helps you store and/or generate unique passwords for all of your online accounts. This is crucial, as using weak passwords, or the same passwords on multiple accounts (we all do it), makes you susceptible to identity theft and other crimes.
Many of these services offer mobile apps, enabling you to securely maintain access to important personal or work accounts while you're on the go. This is especially important when traveling because it helps you access your important accounts securely—like your online banking account or email—from anywhere in the world. Systems like LastPass, 1Password, and Dashlane not only allow you keep your login credentials accessible, but they can also help proactively monitor your password safety and protect you and your family from cyber-security threats. Getting all of your account passwords organized and imported into a password manager can be a big undertaking, so we highly recommend getting set up well before you leave for your trip. If you're feeling overwhelmed or burdened by the task, there are professional digital organizers who can help.
6. Consider Tech Support on the Go.
While all of these features and products are designed to make your life easier, we have all experienced the roadblocks and frustration when the technology we depend on fails, and you lack the expertise to troubleshoot the problem. Rather than spend precious moments of your hard-earned vacation trying to solve these issues for yourself, why not enlist the help of on-demand tech support on the go? There are monthly personal IT support subscriptions available that enable you to get the help you need, even on the road, so that your trip can be as amazing as you envisioned it.
For many families planning, a vacation can be stressful. However, using technology to streamline the process and make your vacations more enjoyable may just be easier than you think. There are plenty of options out there that can help from efficiently sharing and organizing photos, to coordinating with various families so everyone has an idea when and where they're flying/driving. In short: keep it simple, use the available tools, stay organized, and find a system that works for you.