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Old 01-28-13, 06:20 PM   #1
raybo
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Adding an itinerary to your touring plans

I like to do a lot of planning for my bike tours. One reason is that I make extensive use of hospitality hosts and want to give them as much advanced notice as I can. I also find the act of planning bike tours somewhat fun.

In March, 2011, I added tour planning pages to my website that allows anyone willing to take the time to create a free login to create tour plans that are a combination of web links, packing list, travel information, and other details. These plans can be kept private or made public for others to benefit from. In addition, specific sections of a plan can be set to private to keep something out of the public view, such as travel plans (which can't be made public) or names of potential hosts.

For me, the most important part of planning is devising a reasonable itinerary so that I have some idea where I'll be on a given night to try and find hosts. In the past, I simply listed the itinerary along with the other details on the page, usually in the Route section. But, I always wanted a more capable itinerary system than simply entering text lines.

To remedy this, I created an Itineray section to the tour planning page that allows someone to list a day's starting place, ending place, distance, and a comment. One added benefit is that the starting and ending locations are indexed into the site's database so that anyone searching for that location can find, in addition to links and journal pages, touring plans assocatied with it, as well.

If you'd like to see what this looks like in a public touring plan, you can check my most recent touring plan for my upcoming tour of Big Bend National Park. Go to this page if you'd like to play with creating your own touring plans. Remember that you can't create a touring plan until you have a site login (free registration here), which you can get here.
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Old 01-29-13, 07:24 AM   #2
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I find that using an excel spreadsheet is also an excellent way to make an itinerary, with a column for each day and a row for each hour you can highlight blocks of riding time, sight-seeing time, and driving time. You can also keep all of your lodging info, phone numbers, points of interest, addresses, alternate plans, etc. on a single page.
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Old 01-29-13, 08:03 AM   #3
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On the tour we're currently on, I create calendars in Excel, and type in where I think we might be on certain dates. I've done that twice ... once when we were sorting out the end of the France portion of our trip, and again about mid-way through the US portion of our trip. I'm not a detailed planner so I didn't need the calendars for the rest of the trip.

The benefit of using a calendar is that I can see where we'll be on weekends and public holidays. Weekends and holidays can be an issue because it can be harder to find accommodation, and when we were travelling through Europe in August, we found it beneficial to stay in a hotel on the weekends, rather than in a campground. I can also tell people we're visiting that we're thinking of arriving on a Thursday afternoon, and ask if that will work for them.

My web links, packing list, travel information, and other details are also in Excel files, text files, or pdf files (whichever was most convenient), and all kept in a particular folder on my computer here, and backed up onto USB. Keeping them on my own system, rather than having to log into the internet was beneficial because there were a few places where the internet was not available and yet, I needed the information.
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Old 01-29-13, 09:49 AM   #4
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I realize that spreadsheets and other word processing programs can do this job as well or better than the system I've created. If that is what you do, great. But, once you've done all your spreadsheeting and finished your tour, that information, which is likely very useful to someone else looking to tour in the same area, is locked up in your computer.

The main idea with offering this as a page on a website is so that the planning that is done be available to the public and can help other bike tourists make their plans.

I realize most (all) people won't use this planning system. I am just trying to get a few people to join me in making more information available to the bike touring community.
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Old 01-29-13, 07:14 PM   #5
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Is your planning system set up as a calendar? Or can it be?


And most of my information wouldn't likely be of any use to anyone else ... my planning is that sketchy, minimal, and changeable.
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Old 01-29-13, 07:45 PM   #6
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I'm not entirely certain what ou mean by "set up as a calendar."

It has a date column that can be set to whatever you like. I use a date and a day identifier, like F 4/19. Dates are not shown in the public version of a planning page. Dates are only shown on a person's private version of the plan.

This is (sorta) what I see on the private version of my plan for the upcoming Big Bend tour:

Code:
Date	Day Start	Day End	Distance	Comment
F 4/19			*	Fly to Midland on Southwest spend Friday night in Midland
4/20			*	Take bus to Alpine, assemble bike, ship box to Presidio.
Su 4/21	Alpine, Texas, United States	Ft. Davis, Texas, United States	47 Miles	Can be done the other way to spend night in Marfa
Are you asking about the layout? That is, do you want the information to resemble a calendar? Or, do you want to enter dates from a calendar? Or, is there some other calendar information you are asking about?
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Old 01-29-13, 07:49 PM   #7
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I'm talking about the layout looking like a calendar. I find that method of planning the most convenient because I can "see" weekends, holidays, etc. easier that way.

Within Excel, I create a calendar (one that looks much like a wall calendar) for the next few weeks, and I make each cell large enough to contain some basic information about where we think we might be. Sometimes I'll also include information like our method of transportation, and if we have to book something, or whatever.

Last edited by Machka; 01-29-13 at 07:54 PM.
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Old 01-29-13, 08:19 PM   #8
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It would look something like this ... only in Excel ...
http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/monthly.html
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Old 01-29-13, 09:39 PM   #9
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Kind of looks like the information I have been storing in Word documents, but in a better format. I guess I am a little like you, as I like to do that kind of planning in the winter. Doing a day by day itinerary of starting town, route, mileage, sites to see, and ending town, with lodging. Also like to have my rest days on a Sunday if at all possible, so I have to respect the Calendar. Resources like Crazyguyonabike are great for this sort of planning. Now if we could just predict wind direction, precipitation and fatigue, this planning thing would be a cinch!
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Old 01-29-13, 11:30 PM   #10
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old guy pre computer travel, map on paper, wth film camera and not a writer,
boy scouts through the 50's & early 60's.

I did a lot of improv faking it as I went Along, so the polar opposite
of the planning-blogging IT people, that goes on ..

The adventure comes from doing something you did not plan ahead.

but if you book all your rooms to stay in , before you left,
you are locked into getting there ..

Metaphor:
Jazz music, out of your 'head-tunes', versus sight reading music off the page.

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Old 01-30-13, 07:39 AM   #11
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Here is my excel itinerary from our western Erie canal tour. I found I can stuff lots of info into a small space. I printed it small and laminated it with some clear packing tape.
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File Type: jpg erie.jpg (100.5 KB, 3 views)
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Old 01-30-13, 10:02 AM   #12
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The current design is as a spreadsheet with column headings of Date, Starting Place, Ending Place, Distance, Comments. It could be made into a calendar or any other kind of display. It just takes my time to create it. Frankly, I like the spreadsheet design and, since I appear to be the only one using it, I see no reason to change it.

If you already have a researched plan, you could enter it into the site so that others could benefit from it. I realize this doesn't get you much, but you can link it to your journal, blog or other personal page.

I created this planning system in the hope of providing even more useful bike touring information for people. Please note that I make no money on this site--no ads, no requests for donations, no nothing. In fact, it costs me several hundred dollars a year to maintain and I do the work for free.
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Old 01-30-13, 10:32 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCwom View Post
I find that using an excel spreadsheet is also an excellent way to make an itinerary, with a column for each day and a row for each hour you can highlight blocks of riding time, sight-seeing time, and driving time. You can also keep all of your lodging info, phone numbers, points of interest, addresses, alternate plans, etc. on a single page.
I have found the itinerary to be most beneficial when I am on a train or plane at midnight, the itinerary helps me make sure my motel reservations are for the correct days. I have used spreadsheet with one row per day with plane ticket numbers, motel reservation data and phone numbers.

I only do an itinerary if I have motel reservations or airline or Amtrak tickets. Otherwise, I make no effort to keep on track. My next bike trip I plan to take Amtrak home at end of trip but will probably not make the reservation until about two or three days before the end of trip to allow for flexibility.
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Old 01-30-13, 07:05 PM   #14
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If you already have a researched plan, you could enter it into the site so that others could benefit from it. I realize this doesn't get you much, but you can link it to your journal, blog or other personal page.
I could post the enormous spreadsheet Rowan and I created when we were planning for our trip, but that research wouldn't help anyone much. Currency values changed while we were travelling, vaccination information changes every now and then too, and the only travel plans on it were the flights from our Round-the-World ticket.

That's the thing ... the planning I do is subject to change. And I only create the calendars, in Excel, when necessary. For example, toward the end of our time in France, we made a significant change to our route plans, and I had to book a ferry and a flight a couple weeks before we needed the ferry and flight. Plus we were going to stay with friends for a little while in that time. I threw together the calendar so I could check dates and make sure we were where we needed to be.
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Old 01-31-13, 10:05 AM   #15
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I could post the enormous spreadsheet Rowan and I created when we were planning for our trip, but that research wouldn't help anyone much.
It seems that posting information that "wouldn't help anyone much" wouldn't be of much value. I am just trying to collect as much useful bike touring information in one place to help people who are planning a bike tour.

While your entire spreadsheet might not be useful, if I recall correctly, you and Rowan did a tour of Japan that you really liked. Is there anything you learned during that tour or any links to interesting things that you found that others might benefit from? That is the kind of thing it would be nice list.

Obviously, not everyone will find the tour planning pages I've created something they way to use. For those who might, it is a way not only to organize your own touring details but to provide something others might find valuable.

Machka, thanks for thinking about how your recently created spreadsheet might fit into this.
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