I used to take a few hours before every trip to create a paper folder with all of my confirmation numbers, itineraries and other critical information. Now I carry all of the same information, and more, in the convenience of my iPad or my phone. Having all of that information at my fingertips has come in handy on more than one occasion – like the time we lost my son's ticket on his birthday and didn't realize it until rope drop at Epcot. I opened Evernote on my phone, pulled up the image of the back of the ticket, and Guest Services had us on our way in minutes. I am mostly paperless in my everyday life and Evernote is the core tool at the heart of my digital organization. Disney planning is no exception.
What is Evernote?
I think of Evernote as my virtual file cabinet. It can store all kinds of “notes” – typed, handwritten, audio, web clips, pictures, even attached documents. I use Evernote on my PC at home, on my iPad and on the web at work. It’s also available for Mac, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry and it’s FREE on every platform. Evernote has a lot of functionality beyond just a simple file cabinet, but for me the critical feature is being able to store everything in one place and have access to it anytime and anywhere, including in the Disney parks.
Planning with Evernote
If Evernote is a digital file cabinet, then “notebooks” are the digital folders. There are many ways to organize and search for notes in Evernote. I use a combination of notebooks and tags. My notebooks are divided into two major categories – Projects and Reference. My Projects are temporary notebooks that span the life of a project, like planning a vacation or buying a car. When I start planning a new Disney trip, the first thing I do is create a new notebook in Evernote. This becomes the central location for all of my trip-related information, from airline confirmations to touring plans to shopping lists. I refer to this notebook throughout my trip.
My Reference notebooks are for things that I plan to keep long-term. A map highlighting the best places to see Wishes, a list of average transportation times between every park and resort, the locations of all the Epcot Kidcot stops and the details for my favorite cupcake crawl all get stored in my Disney Reference notebook. I keep notes about Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card combos, blog posts about foods I want to try, contact information for my favorite childcare service, notes about special holidays and events and details about each park.
One of the best features of Evernote is the ability to use it anywhere and that includes in the parks without an Internet connection. By default all of the notebooks are synced online, but you can save a notebook offline to your device. This is useful if you have a device without a data plan or if you just want to conserve your megabytes. Before I leave the house, I set my project notebook so it will be available on my phone even if I have a problem connecting to Wi-Fi in the parks. The offline feature is particularly useful when traveling between the parks and resorts. Another useful feature is the ability to share notebooks with anyone who has an Evernote account. I have my Disney reference folder shared with my parents so they can benefit from my research and planning.
Capturing with Evernote
When I'm on vacation I love to share the magic with my family and friends on Twitter. These tweets become a record of our trip, but finding them in my Twitter feed can be a hassle. That's where IFTTT and Evernote come in. IFTTT is a service that lets you connect other digital services with simple scripts called “recipes” – If This Then That. I have a recipe set up to automatically send all of my favorited tweets to Evernote.
I can quickly mark my tweets and tweets from other family members for saving later. Each tweet that I save gets added to a single note in Evernote; they're all in one place and easy to find. Sometimes I just use these tweets when I'm scrapbooking as a reminder of what we did on each day, but my favorite way to use tweets is to list them all out on a page as a chronological narrative of our trip.
Sometimes I don't have the time or Wi-Fi connection to tweet regularly and often I want to share our day with family who didn't come on the trip. In those cases, I like to write an end-of-day summary email. Again, this serves not only to share the magic but becomes a record for my scrapbooking. Each Evernote account has a unique email address that you can use to send emails directly to Evernote. Whenever I send an email about something on our trip, I make sure to cc: my Evernote.
Creating with Evernote
When it comes time to scrapbook my trip I love having all of the details in one place, easily accessible. At the end of each trip, I clean out and delete the project notebook that I created. Information that will be useful on future trips goes back to my reference Disney folder, but the trip-specific info like ADR confirmations and touring plans go into one of my scrapbooking notebooks until I scrapbook that trip.
I have a Disney tag that I use to track trip details and memorabilia that might be spread over multiple notebooks. I also keep sketches and creative scrapbooking ideas in Evernote and tag any that are Disney-related so I can find them easily. For more about how I use Evernote in my scrapbooking see my recent post at Simple Scrapper.
Evernote is so essential to my Disney planning and creating that I just can't imagine trying to go without it. Have you tried Evernote? Share with us some ways that Evernote helps make your Disney trips more magical.