How to Stay Organized During Summer Travel

It’s hard enough to stay organized during regular business travel, but summer travel? Forget about it! Here are some tips for how to pull it off.

It’s hard enough to stay organized during regular business travel, but summer travel? Forget about it!

The kids are screaming, the hotel is overbooked, and the relaxing vacation you’ve been looking forward to is threatening to turn into a palm tree-infested nightmare.

Summertime can be slow for small businesses, but it’s an incredibly busy time for the tourism industry. This creates the added challenge of staying organized in the midst of packed airports, crowded theme parks and overflowing resorts.

Here’s how to stay organized during summer travel and make the most out of your precious time off.

Strategize

Whether you are traveling solo, with friends or with your family, chances are you have a big part of your vacation already planned out. You know exactly what you want to see, how to get there, and how much it’s going to cost.

Before heading to the airport, take a few minutes to apply your planning skills to staying organized on the road. Develop a strategy that everyone in your party agrees to stick to while you’re traveling.

  • Make someone the designated receipt scanner. When anyone gets a paper receipt, they will automatically pass it off to the designated scanner. This way everyone’s wallets, pockets and the rental car remains uncluttered.
  • Work out logistics. Agree upon start times, end times and easy-to-find group meeting points. This will ensure you get to see everything you’ve looked forward to seeing.
  • Choose one person as your point person. If anyone gets lost, separated or delayed, contact the point person immediately instead of waffling around texting anyone you can get ahold of.

Implement

No matter how foolproof your summer travel organization plan may be, even the best plans fall apart at the first sign of chaos.

Even if the flight is delayed, the theme park is closed, or they’ve put you in a different hotel than the one you booked, keep your strategy in mind and continue to stick to the plan.

Doing mini-check ins throughout the day will help you stay organized without getting frustrated or overwhelmed.

Keep in mind that you might also get distracted not because of chaos, but because the place you’re visiting is so awesome! Breathtaking scenery, beaches, palm trees and a lazy vacation-vibe can all combine to sabotage your organization strategy.

In other words, even while you’re in a blissed-out meditative state on a beach somewhere in Thailand, you should still take 30 seconds to scan your receipts.

Evaluate

At the end of your travel day when you’re back in your hotel room, take stock of how the day went.

  • Would it help everyone stay organized if you met 15 minutes earlier in the morning?
  • Did Bob give you his receipt from dinner?
  • Has the hotel bill been scanned and beamed to your Shoeboxed account?

A 10-minute nightly recap will prevent paper clutter from accumulating, but it will also clear your head and allow you to focus on the task at hand – enjoying your summer travel!

Do you find summer travel more chaotic than regular business travel? How do you stay organized on the road?

Image via Flickr

 

Top 5 Free Chrome Apps for Organized Small Business Owners

Small business owners and marketers are constantly on the go, so having access to mobile and browser applications is a must. Here’s a list of the top five free Google Chrome browser apps for any small business owner looking to get and stay organized!

At BoostSuite, I work with over 6,000 small business owners every day, helping them use our software to optimize their websites to achieve more website traffic and leads. I hear the common complaints about “not having enough time/money/help/etc.” far too often. I feel their pain. After all, we’re a small business too!

These complaints always make me think, “What can I offer to these small business owners that will help them save time, save money, and stay organized?”

Today’s technological landscape offers tons of great software tools to make your life easier, but finding the right ones can be difficult, and keeping track of all the different tools you actually have can be cumbersome. It’s like having Batman’s tool belt: you have a specific tool for every unique situation, but the belt has gotten so big that you can’t even walk around, much less leap from building to building saving Gotham!

You need to simplify things. Small business owners and marketers are constantly on the go, so having access to mobile and browser applications is a must. Here’s a list of the top five free Google Chrome browser apps that I recommend to any small business owner looking to get and stay organized:

1. Gmail Offline

Having access to your email is key for small business owners on the go. But what if you open up your laptop and you don’t have access to wifi or a hotspot? Gmail Offline beta is built to support offline access, so you can read, respond and archive without network access. After your first start-up, Gmail Offline will automatically synchronize messages and queued actions anytime Chrome is running and an Internet connection is available. There is also a great Google Mail Checker widget that notifies you of any messages in your toolbar.

2. Evernote

Let’s say you’re reading a great article on your favorite blog and you want to jot down some quick content curation notes. Instead of using a notepad or textedit document, try Evernote. This free, notepad-like service enables you to save and organize anything you’d like to remember without ever leaving the website. You can also take quick notes, add tasks and tag everything within categories. Social media integration makes the service seamless, and there is also a mobile app that will bring all your notes to your Android and iOS phone or tablet.

3. Shoeboxed

You’re probably already well-aware of this, but it’s certainly worth mentioning. :) Shoeboxed is the premier solution for small businesses and individuals to stay organized by digitizing your receipts, business cards and other documents. Shoeboxed makes tax return preparation, expense reporting, budgeting and bookkeeping a breeze and allows you to effortlessly send your organized data to great programs like QuickBooks, Outright, Xero, Evernote and more. Using their free Web Clipper for Chrome, you can clip images of receipts, business cards and bills directly from your browser and submit them to Shoeboxed for immediate processing.

4. Mint

As a small business owner, you must consistently be aware of your financial status. You need to set budgets and keep tabs on where your dollars are going. For financial management, Mint.com is a great app that allows you to track, budget and manage your money all in one place. You can manage a bank, credit, loan or retirement account, and the service automatically categorizes all of your transactions, so you know when and where you’re spending and saving.

5. TweetDeck

You know that social media is a crucial relationship-building, engagement, and support tool for your small business, but how do you keep track of all your accounts at once? TweetDeck makes it easier for you to track the real-time conversations you care about. It brings more flexibility and insight to active social media users through a customizable layout that lets you keep up with the people and topics that matter most to you. And, you can join the conversation by tweeting, sharing photos and links to news stories, and more. Did I mention you can link multiple accounts? So you can manage your brand as well as your personal account, all from the same interface.

Honorable Mentions

Desk.com

I’m partial to this as we use it for our own support needs. Desk.com is the social help desk that lets any business respond to customer service requests from Facebook, Twitter, email, live chat and phone — all in one place. Whether your customer service team is one person or 100 people, Desk.com ensures no customer will fall through the cracks.

Awesome Screenshot Capture & Annotate

If you need to take screenshots and highlight specific areas of the page easily, use this app. You can capture the whole browser page or any portion, annotate it with rectangles, circles, arrows, lines and text, blur sensitive info, all with one-click. I use this one too, and it’s a great supplement to the traditional Macbook screengrab (command+3 for whole screen, command+4 for selection).

What do you use?

Do you have any other free or paid Google Chrome browser apps that you would recommend to other organized small business owners? Let’s hear them!

photo credit: edtechworkshop via photopin cc

About the Author

 Screen shot 2013-07-15 at 9.45.01 AMRyan Kettler is Director of Communications for BoostSuite. Ryan is an internet marketing zealot, sports fanatic, devoted runner, avid golfer, beer connoisseur, and live music enthusiast. When he’s not helping BoostSuite customers he can be found running 5ks, sampling IPAs, and cheering on his North Carolina State Wolfpack.

BoostSuite is a web marketing optimization product for small business owners. Unlike current products that bewilder and discourage small business owners, BoostSuite allows novice web marketers to build more website traffic and convert more online visitors into customers and leads for their businesses. Try it for free for 2 weeks!