During our adventure “off-season”, VagabondExpedition is always busy – saving maintenance and travel receipts, planning new adventures, and so on. Here are 5 ways we use the application Evernote as an overlander to save time, stay organized and stay sane with all the data that we collect before, during and after our adventures!
Evernote is a very popular cross-platform application that has been out for a few years now and is incredibly versatile. The Evernote application is not fixed into any specific ‘molding’ so it does take a bit of time to get into a flow of sorting and organizing that you’re content in using. You can download Evernote to any of your devices after you’ve signed up for a free account here.
Let’s jump right into our top five ways that we use Evernote and how you can do the same to get organized. In some future articles we’ll elaborate further and give some very specific examples for you to follow.
1) Vehicle Modifications & Maintenance
Keeping track of your vehicle maintenance records is always important, and an application like Evernote can save those receipts with extra notes attached. You can add reminders to your next service date too.
Not only are your vehicle maintenance records important, but so is keeping track of the modifications you do to the vehicle. This is helpful in the event of an insurance loss due to fire or theft, but also just in keeping track of any add-on item warranties, installation manuals, receipts and more. I can run a search in Evernote for “jeep-mods” and instantly have a list of everything I’ve done to the Jeep. I can then add search criteria to filter by dates too to see what I’ve done over the years. If something breaks, it’s easy to see where, and when it was purchased and read over the warranty documents that I saved into the ‘note’.
Tip: Create a “master note” for your vehicle. Use this as your table of contents for vehicle modifications and maintenance records. I also keep a link here to a note that reminds me how to reset that pesky “change oil” indicator on the Jeep.
2) Planning Your Adventure
No matter if it is a long adventure or just a weekend getaway, planning some details about your trip is usually fairly important. We ‘clip’ web sites and photos of interest of places and events all over the world. During our travels, it’s a simply a matter of running a search to find articles of interest in the area we are, making a preliminary trip plan a breeze to start assembling.
In addition to planning where you’ll go and what you’ll see, you might want to plan what you’re taking on your adventure. We have a couple of different packing lists for different types of adventures to ensure what we need is with us no matter what. A bonus tip is that when we’ve returned from an adventure, we can go through this list and make note of what was used, not used, broken or in need of replacement. Reminders can be set to order new items, food, etc, once we’re back to civilization.
Tip: Evernote has a limit of 250 notebooks, so you’ll want to get familiar with using tags asap. For trip planning and research, save all these notes into a notebook called “travel”. BUT areas are tagged by location such as “USA-California”, “USA-Kentucky”, “Canada-Alberta”. I can browse through everything in the notebook, or just search on “tag:USA-California” when I plan a trip to that state. A future article will cover this in more detail as we also take this a step further and visually organize this data as well.
3) Documenting Your Adventures
You’re on your adventure and you’re having the time of your life. How do you save some of those memories? Sure a picture is worth a thousand words, but a few words can also paint a picture. From capturing trail recording data, points of interest, and even a few notes about friends we’ve met on the adventure (or interesting restaurants to try next time) we use Evernote for all this. It gets “tagged” with our adventure name for easy reference in the future. Evernote isn’t really built to be a photo album but for a few key photos it works incredibly well as you can add details about the photo that may not be obvious. A photo of a trail head can have details about what to expect into the trail, coordinates, and anything else you want to note. Have something making a funny noise on the trip, but it’s not an emergency to fix it now? Take a photo and save it into Evernote, apply a reminder for the day after you get back and you’re worry free. Spot an off shoot trail you want to explore next time? Make some notes, record the coordinates and snap a photo. All that information can be saved into Evernote with a reminder set and your next adventure is already being planned out!
Looking for a note template for your adventure reports? Here’s one that I put together to get you started.
Tip: An adventure is usually a pretty busy event, so we don’t want to sit around organizing and writing out a lot of data on the trip. Photos and quick notes can be taken in Evernote, tagged with a unique name of the adventure you’re on and therefore easily sorted and organized later on. I use the tag format of “trip-location name-date”, for example: “trip-abrahamlake-july2017”. At the end of a trip, I can sort on those tags, and create a “table of contents” note for that particular trip!
4) Tracking Your Receipts
Similar to number one, but taking things a step further, we’ll save all receipts pertaining to an adventure as well. Fuel ups, vehicle repairs, restaurant receipts, grocery receipts and more. These all get “tagged” with our adventure name – the same as in our trip report – and a quick summary of the costs of the adventure can be calculated at the end of your adventure! Because of the versatility of this note taking platform, you can add information to those receipts to be wary of such as “less junk food next time”, or “fuel is cheaper at the next gas station” or even “don’t order this meal next time”.
Tip: The Evernote app on your smartphone will “scan” images into the application for you. Add a “camera note” and point. Instant save. As a “power user”, I scan my receipts into evernote, but once they get renamed I tag them with “receipt” which triggers an “IFTTT recipe” to save details into a Google Sheets spreadsheet – constantly giving me cost reports based on the type of expense too!
5) The Idea Board
Probably my ‘busiest’ method of using Evernote as an explorer is that I’m constantly “clipping” items of interest. This ranges from exploration locations as discussed in the trip planning section above to different ideas for the Jeep. From vehicle modifications ideas to repairs need and alteration ideas to the Jeep or other gear. Ideas to try for camp site cooking to ways I want to take an adventure photograph in the future. It all gets “clipped” into Evernote where I can sort it, save it and access it at any time. If it is time or adventure sensitive, I can add a reminder date and time too.
Tip: As mentioned earlier, get used to using “tags”. Here, “todo-jeep” is my idea board for the Jeep. I just search for “todo-jeep” and can review all my ideas. Deleting anything that is done or not longer an interest, and adding notes and information to any ideas I particularly enjoy.
Bonus: Any Time, Any Where Access
The real beauty of Evernote is that it is cross-platform and accessible “offline” as well. I have the app on my Windows laptop, Android phone and iOS tablet. Using any computer, anywhere with internet access will give me ‘web’ access to all of my notes. On my phone and tablet, I can mark notebooks for offline access and not worry about being completely off grid with no access my information. I can collect the information any time and where too – some quick notes jotted on my phone, to a mobile photo – it all gets synced across everything for easy access once I have internet signal again.
Hopefully this has given you some insight into using a note taking application such as Evernote for your overlanding needs. Our use of Evernote goes far beyond what we’ve outlined above in both day-to-day activities as well as our overland adventures, so you’ll want to follow us at VagabondExpedition as we release some in-depth articles and videos about putting a note application to full use with our adventures. Jump over to Evernote here and sign up for an account and give it a try for your needs. You’ll quickly find out that it can be used for some much more as well!