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How you plan and organize your trip says more about you than you think

Jan. 14, 2020
6 min read
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The way I see it, there are two types of people in this world: People who show up for a trip, and people who show up for their trip.

Personally, I have a borderline obsessive methodology for planning a vacation. I plan my trip around where I'm eating, and will spend countless hours researching and cross-checking the best spots from various reviews and social media platforms.

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Then, you have someone like my mother, who used a pen and paper to organize her trip to Barcelona and Amsterdam this summer and called it a spreadsheet. Yes, she's the cutest.

Related: Where you should travel to this year, based on your Myers-Briggs type

Since we know you're all actively planning out your 2020 travels (and, for some of you, an entire decade's worth of trips) we decided to look at some of the various strategies travelers have for organizing itineraries. Here's what your spreadsheet, notepad or spontaneous "anything goes" attitude say about you.

Spreadsheets

There's no way around this one. You're Type A through and through, and you don't settle for anything less than absolute perfection. The thought of not abiding to a schedule by the second makes you break out in hives. When you're not traveling, you're the one in your family or group of friends who makes the restaurant reservations. Since we know you like to plan ahead, set an award alert so you know precisely when availability opens up. You can add it to your spreadsheet after.

Senior reporter Katie Genter uses Google Sheets to keep track of hotels reservations, flights and other important bookings. That way, the details of each segment and the confirmation and booking numbers are all in one place. While it might have been stressful planning it all out, you know putting your itinerary in a hyper-organized spreadsheet with functions that automatically tally your current points and miles balance will make the entire trip seamless.

Word document

Using a Word or Google document makes it easy for you to keep everything in one place ... and save it in a folder on your desktop with all the other odds and ends you need for your vacation. You probably have a 10-step skincare routine but frequently lose your AirPods.

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If you're using Google Docs, you're likely planning a group trip, so you need an easy way to share recommendations and collaborate with your companions. If you're organizing your trip with Microsoft Word, we have a feeling you're something of a traditionalist. Since we know you're probably going to stay in a chain hotel, make sure you're getting extra bonus points for it. Win, win.

Google Maps

You like to fly a little bit below the radar — after all, Google Maps may just be the most underrated way to plan a trip. When you're not planning a vacation to the other side of the world, you're likely setting calendar alerts so you never miss an appointment. You recently Marie Kondo-ed your apartment and you've never been prouder.

TPG reporter Liz Hund swears by this method, and typically organizes her itineraries with color-coded pins tracking the restaurants she wants to try, for example, and attractions she wants to see. This helps her visualize what locations are in close proximity to each other, and helps her better organize her vacation. Plus, you can easily share it with all your friends and family afterward.

Notes app

You thrive on structure and prefer to have all of the details mapped and planned out, but know you need to give yourself a little wiggle room for the inevitable delay or travel mishap. You want to be able to change your itinerary if necessary, so you don't like things totally set in stone. More likely than not, you're a big fan of the solo trip and firmly believe everyone should do it. (They should!)

Wallace Cotton, TPG's community manager (and arguably one of the biggest AvGeeks in the office) said he uses his Notes app to track travel plans and added, "It's not creative, but it gets the job done." While you don't necessarily need the fanciest or shiniest things around, you like to have flexibility. After all, what happens if you see a place pop up on Instagram that you just have to see in person?

Pen and paper

You can't be bothered with technology, and that's OK. You have a trusted travel agent who you've been using for years, and you want to step up your points game to make a trip to New York since the TWA Hotel isn't going to see itself. You may even have your frequent flyer number from Continental Airlines stashed away somewhere.

Less flexible than the notes app but a similar sensibility, using a good old pen and paper can help you remember what activities and attractions you want to prioritize. Let's just hope you remember where you put that Post-It.

Nothing

You like to live life on the edge. You're the, "We'll cross that bridge when we see water" type of person, and you know what? That's great.

You've been known to plan a last-minute trip from time to time (who can resist a cheap deal to the Caribbean?!) and have Google Flights bookmarked to check flight prices to, well, anywhere, on a whim. Pro tip: Get a card that earns you bonus points for airfare purchases, so even when you go to book a last minute flight, you're earning valuable points and miles that you can use on your next one.

Featured image by (Photo by estee janssens/Unsplash)

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023