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Pre-Trip Organization: The Key to Stress-Free Travel + free printable binder pages | Dawn & Scott Jackson

Pre-Trip Organization: The Key to Stress-Free Travel + free printable binder pages | Dawn & Scott Jackson

Where are all my planners and organizers? I, too, am an organizer. My husband has learned to accept this and on occasion will actually help in my organizing. 

We planned our Jamaica 2019 trip approximately one year in advance and this gave me ample opportunity to organize everything. I planned what to pack, excursions, meals, and anything else I thought needed it. I Googled and Pinterested everything! I wanted to make sure that whatever came our way, we were prepared for it. 

This is where a travel binder comes in. What’s a travel binder, you ask? It’s a binder I created to put all of our important papers in and planned to take with us in my carry on. I know what you’re thinking, a binder is so old-school. With all this technology today, it’s much easier to just use a phone or tablet or even a laptop. But what happens if that piece of technology dies? Or even worse, there’s a world-wide outage. You never know what can happen and with this binder, you’ll be prepared for the worst. 

Once I started working on this binder, it was fairly easy to pinpoint what should be in it. The basics of this binder are different sections that contain different information. Several of the sections in my binder are: 

  1. Itinerary 
  2. Phone Number List 
  3. Copies of Documents 
  4. General Travel Information 


The first section, Itinerary, contains a page for each day of the trip. All the information for each day is compiled into the Word Document you can download here. As you can see from the sample image below, each section is self-explanatory. Feel free to include as much or as little information as you think you need in each section. The sections below General Info can be copied and pasted for as many days as you are travelling so you have one page for each day.  

Quick story, when we planned our Jamaica 2022 trip, it was a given that I needed the same binder. This trip was a bit less planned, in that we were going with another family so any meals and such needed to be coordinated on site versus planned out ahead of time. This turned out okay, even for my organizing self, as we had butlers to do all the planning for us on site. However, a serious glitch occurred while traveling to the airport to start our trip. The worst thing possible – our airline cancelled our flight. We had no way to get to Jamaica. I pulled out my binder and looked up the airline phone number and Scott got started with rerouting us to St. Louis. We still had a 12-hour layover in North Carolina but at least we were started on our trip instead of sitting in the Columbia airport parking lot. 

Phone Number List 

The next section of the binder is Important Phone Numbers. This is where you list all phone numbers and email addresses you might need, even if you have them memorized or they’re in your phone. Write them down! Make sure to include the numbers for any local US Embassies in the country you are visiting. Even if there’s more than one. You never know what you may need them for, especially if your passport is lost or stolen. You can download our copy of this document here

Document Copies 

Other sections of your binder also contain a lot of information. The Document section should contain some or all of the following: 

  1. Flight Confirmations 
  2. Copies of travel insurance policies 
  3. Copies of passports and drivers licenses

General Travel Information 

The General Travel Information section is a good place to put that extra stuff you think you need but might not fit into another category. 

  1. Tipping customs in the country you are travelling to 
  2. A money conversion cheat sheet 
  3. Basic questions in the language of the country you are travelling to 
  4. Appropriate attire suggestions 
  5. Instructions for making your phone work in a foreign country 

The Destination Specific section is for your hotel confirmation, rental car information, excursions, etc. that you will need once you arrive to your location. If you are travelling to more than one location, make a tab for each one. If you’re renting a car, make sure to print out map directions. Maps may not be readily available on your phone. 

It also helps to include a few clear page protectors in the back of the binder for things you may need when you return home. Things such as invoices, receipts, brochures, and post cards. 

Once we completed our binder, we made an exact duplicate for a family member or friend that was staying behind. We wanted to make sure that someone knew where we were and how to reach us at any given point in time should something occur back home that was urgent. Fortunately, it was not needed either time we travelled. 

If you have ever worked with one of our Sojourney Travel Advisors, you know that we often put together a handy digital document that includes all of the details of your trip, travel documents, and helpful resources. This document can also be downloaded as a PDF and printed for your convenience. While it is great to have everything easily accessible on a mobile device, we recognize that sometimes people want a backup plan or to format things in a way that they understand.  

Experience the convenience of having all your travel details in one place! Feel free to download our free resources in this blog to build your own travel binder.