As tour directors and guides we are sent around the world to dozens of new locations each year. And in each destination there are hundreds of stories, restaurants, shops, and special sights to keep track of. It’s hard enough keeping our itineraries and lives organized, but how do we organize our stories and special gems, so we remember them at the right moment, with the details that make a story or city come alive?
Let me introduce you to a couple of helpful online tools to organize your commentary and locations.
Microsoft OneNote + Office Lens
I love OneNote, by Microsoft. It’s free. Sign in for a Microsoft account, and you can install the software on your home computer — an easy way to quickly type up or cut and paste your notes into one central location. But the real beauty is paring it with your phone and tablet. Download the app for each device, sign in, and you have everything.
OneNote allows you to drag and drop images, YouTube videos, and PDF files into its workspace, so you have everything you know in one place. Organizationally speaking, you can create Notebooks for each city, and then separate tabs for each neighborhood or area of town. And in teach tab, you can then create entries for every sight in the area. This means when it comes time to quickly access your knowledge of a place, you have it! No other software accomplishes this so precisely and elegantly.
Google “My Maps”
This is not Google Maps! My Maps is a custom mapping environment for Google Maps. Get started here. It allows you to create custom lines, shapes, and pins to mark up maps that only you can access, and share with anyone you’d like. Why is this useful? Imagine. You discover a great little wayside food stop for your group on a lonely stretch of highway. Instead of writing it down somewhere, you can add a special pin to a custom map. Then, when you’re driving, you’ll see what’s coming up that you remember. You can add commentary, stories, or simple notes about the stop, and organize each pin according to a category–different colors for food, shops, quirky stories, fun sights, coffee, cocktails, you name it.
The end result is this: wherever you go in the world, you have access to the information that makes you a temporary local, sure to impress your travelers.