Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Planning a Trip with Pinterest and Planapple

My wife and I enjoy using Planapple to plan trips, and have been using it for a couple of years to plan everything from weekend 'get-aways' to multi-stop adventures. It's a simple tool that lets us collect cool ideas from around the web, talk about them, make plans, and take them with us on the road.

Pinterest + Planapple = Pretty Fun

Recently we discovered Pinterest and were struck not only by the breadth of beautiful imagery shared there, but also the variety of cool 'bucket lists' users were creating to catalog the interesting places they want to visit. Browsing through these boards, we thought Pinterest + Planapple would be a great combo to get ideas and inspiration for our next adventure.

Country road in Sonoma County
With the newest addition to our family having recently arrived, we decided to take baby steps for our next trip and visit the relatively close & familiar destination of Sonoma Wine Country in a few months time.

We've been to Sonoma many times before and love it, but are looking forward to getting a different perspective using Pinterest as a starting point for ideas.

This article will walk you though how we planned our trip using Pinterest and Planapple. Turns out, it actually worked pretty well. Find out more after the jump.

Getting Started: Create A New Trip on Planapple

To get started we created a new trip on Planapple and set the trip destination to "Sonoma County". For kicks we set our dates for a weekend in June, but we might change them later.

Once on the Planapple trip welcome screen, we went to the "See & Do" tab of the Idea Finder, clicked on Pinterest, and then clicked on the "Browse remarkable places on Pinterest" link above the search box.

Browse Pinterest Boards for Cool Ideas

This opened a new tab on Pinterest with a whole page full of pins from Sonoma County and some really beautiful photos from the area.

"Nevina's Vinyard" in Sonoma County
Rugged shots of the Sonoma County coast, lush landscapes of rolling hills and vineyards, appetizing stills of wine & cheese: just browsing the Pinterest search results really can be a feast for the eyes!

Clicking into a few of these we started to discover peoples' pin boards about their favorite places in Sonoma. Many featured wineries but some emphasized more of the local flavor such as cupcakes and cottage cheese.

Save Pins You Like To Planapple

The cupcakes in particular caught my wife's eye, so we had to add the 'Sift Cupcakes & Desert Bar' pin to our Planapple trip. We have the Planapple "Save to My Trip" button installed in our browser (which works like just the "Pin It" button for Pinterest), so adding this webpage from Pinterest to our trip on Planapple was a snap.

We just clicked "Save to My Trip" button,  set the category to "Dining" in the blue Planapple dialog, clicked "Save," and were done. Actually we added a comment too - "yummy cupcakes," in case it wasn't obvious later what "Sifts" was in our trip.

I have a soft spot for cheese, and the cottage cheese pin from Cow Girl Creamery, reminded me that they're in located in Sonoma and do tours. Cool! A quick Google search got me the info I needed, which I then immediately saved to our Planapple trip. Pinterest wasn't the direct source for this trip idea, but it definitely provided the inspiration.

Organize Your Ideas In Planapple

Collecting ideas for our trip from Pinterest into Planapple was actually really fun. Over the course of an evening we found a dozen+ different places that looked interesting; some off the beaten path and many that we hadn't visited before. But this inaugural family adventure will probably be only a weekend in length, so there's no way we were going to visit all of this stuff.

Back in Planapple the first thing my wife wanted to do was to go through what we found and separate the good stuff from the chaff. In list view of the "Notebook" she hovered her mouse over each item and clicked on the voting icons in the popup to mark items "Thumbs Up", "Thumbs Down" or "Neutral". Then by clicking the "Votes" view link at the top of the list she was able to see the items grouped by vote and drag them from one section to another when she changed her mind.

See Everything on a Map

The first thing I wanted to do was see all these ideas on a map. When you save pages from TripAdvisor or Yelp into Planapple, they often automatically get added to the map (because the pages have addresses). But with items saved from Pinterest this is not always the case.

Fortunately, it's not hard add items to the map in Planapple.  Basically you click on the item's name in the list to go to its "Details" view. Then in the blue pod on the right you click "Edit Location" and try typing or editing the name of the item.

Nine times out of ten the auto-suggest menu under the name will find a matching place with that name in the area, and if you select it, will fill in the rest of the address (and phone and contact) info for you in the fields below.

If this doesn't work, you can always look up the address the old fashioned way on Google, and copy and paste it into the address field. Either way your item will end up positioned on your trip map.

Find More Info and Start Making Decisions

Once the item has its address filled out, Planapple will look it up and (if it finds anything interesting)  provide additional links under the "Bookmarks" section on the item details view to help you learn more about the place. We find Yelp reviews helpful, so reading up on a few of these links helped us change our mind on several places and narrow down our "A" list of things to visit.

Decisions starting to come together, we quickly went through the "Thumbs Down" section of our list and clicked "Remove" on the popup to send those items to the trash (called "Removed Items" in Planapple). You can always get them back later if you want them, but we don't like leaving them around to clutter up our trip.

Tying It All Together

At this point we still have plenty more to do as we contact places to stay, compare rates, book rooms, and schedule things on our itinerary. But given the length of this article, it's probably best to save that for a "Part 2, The Sequel" article (coming soon).

Morning fog in Sonoma County
All in all, though, the experience of planning a trip with Pinterest and Planapple has been pretty fun. Pinterest is really great for generating ideas and inspiration. And visually, is just a pleasure to browse.

Saving the ideas we liked to Planapple allowed us to better organize and sort the ideas, figure out where everything was on a map, and start making decisions. I have a feeling the scheduling, emailing, and booking is going to be easier with Planapple as well.

But when we return from our trip, we'll probably want to share our favorites and recommendations back onto Pintersest so that others can find and browse them there. Together, these seem like two pretty handy sites for planning a trip.

Have ideas, questions, thoughts or feedback? We'd love to hear from you - just click the feedback tab on the right!