Easy to Use, Free App to Stay Organized Before, During, and After Traveling: Trello

Most people do at least some research about their destination before they head out. You might have collected restaurant, bar, entertainment and shopping recommendations from your friends. So where do you organize and store all of that info? And how do you ensure it’s accessible during your travels?

The answer: Trello.

So I’m totally nerding out right now but I live in Silicon Valley…what do you expect?! In a nutshell Trello is a free and super easy-to-use online list. But it’s a rich list – meaning it has some awesome awesome features that make it a reliable organization tool. And before I go any further let me restate that Trello is free. And you DO NOT have to be tech savvy to use it. So many people think you have to be a “techie” to use Trello. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s really just an online to-do list. And once you use it for a few minutes you get the hang of it really quickly.

{How Trello Works}

Like any app, you start by creating a free account. Once you’ve done that and you’re logged in, you’re ready to create your first Trello board. You give the board a name, i.e. San Francisco and then your screen looks like this:

Now you’re ready to add lists for whatever you want. As you can see below, I added lists for Restaurants, Shopping, Activities and Entertainment.

And underneath each list (the columns) you add cards. As you can see below, I organized by creating one card for each restaurant, activity, store, event etc. The next part is where it gets really cool.

You can click to open any card and add more detailed info such as popular vegetarian or vegan dishes at a restaurant, hours of operation, how to get there or anything else you want. You can even add attachments and share individual cards and/or the entire board with your fellow travelers. You can give your fellow travelers read and write permissions so that they can add cards as well as give feedback and comments in cards.

Additionally you can prioritize and organize cards by dragging and dropping them. See below the top and 2nd to last cards are two different restaurants in The Mission area of San Francisco. After I added the cards, I decided to organize the restaurants by neighborhoods within San Francisco which I easily did by by dragging and dropping cards. And in the photo below you can see that the two restaurants in The Mission are stacked on top of each other.

Trello is perfect for:

  • listing the restaurants you want to try out
  • managing a day-to-day itinerary
  • listing shops and activities and corresponding details
  • making checklists and packing lists

And you can even move cards to different boards. So let’s say you have a goal of trying each activity or restaurant once. Well, as you make your visits, you can drag cards to a “Completed” board so you have a live, up-to-date running list of what you have left to try. See below, I added a “Completed” board where I dragged and dropped the things I did.

And the whole thing is customizable. In these photos, you see how I chose to organize in a way that suits me but maybe you want to organize by cost, duration, order in which each activity will take place – you can organize however makes sense for you.

As a travel blogger another thing I LOVE about this is that Trello gives me the space I need to add important notes, in the moment. This is all invaluable detail that I already have stored foe when I get back and ready for to blog. Otherwise I have to recall info from memory or pick and choose from my notes app. But this keeps everything together nice and neat.

Even if you’re not a travel writer and your friends are going to visit this destination, instead of writing them a lengthy email with all of your recommendations, with one click you can share your Trello board with them!

I use Trello on all of my travels – foreign and domestic. I find it super useful throughout the entire process. Beforehand when I’m  researching and learning about the destination and once I’ve gathered info, and want to organize it. It’s incredibly useful to visualize out how many days to be in each place within my destination(s) and create an itinerary. While I’m on my trip, I use it to keep track of the places I wanna go as well as the places I’ve been and afterwards to blog and share with friends and family.

{Trello App + Desktop Website}

I sometimes travel with my laptop. It just depends on where I’m going. But even if you’re not taking your laptop, you can download the Trello app onto your cell phone. The app is also free and super easy to use. It has all the same drag and drop functionality and you can see all your boards and cards, edit them and add/delete them.

{Alternatives to Trello}

Couldn’t you just use the notes app on your phone for this? Sure, of course you can. But Trello’s free version is designed specifically to create, interact with, and organize lists vs. a lot of note taking apps which are just that – lists, unless you get the paid version, which has more interactive features. How about Evernote? Evernote’s great too but I like the interface of Trello and how easy it is to use and interact with so much better.

You do have to have internet access in order to interact with your Trello boards while you’re at your destination. So make sure you understand the international data fees per your cell carrier.

I also like digitally storing the info because the app automatically saves my info. Unlike handwritten notes which:

  • can get lost
  • add more weight from your notebook
  • smudged if you drop water on them
  • take longer to write

regardless of what app you use, they have the advantages of being efficient, automatically saved, backed up and some make them accessible from multiple devices.

I hope you’ll try Trello for your next trip. Or even beforehand just use it as your regular to-do list to test it out and see if works for you. If you do try it, I’d love to hear what you thought of it! Please write to us in the comments!


In this article I introduced a website + app that travelers can use to organize their trip(s). From creating to-do lists, listing restaurants and activities, and creating itineraries, Trello is a free, easy-to-use website and mobile app to gather info before your trip, organize the trip, keep a live running tab on things you’ve done and places you’ve visited while you’re traveling, and share recommendations with friends and family afterwards.

Above, you’ll see detailed screen shots illustrating how to use it and how easy it is to use. I hope you’ll give it a try!


{About PassportPages}

I created the PassportPages travel blog, to provide nuanced, detailed travel advice, tips, and hacks for traveling all over the world — from a unique and different perspective than the other popular travel blogs. There aren’t as many travel blogs geared towards:

  • nuanced, detailed travel tips and advice
  • vegetarians/vegan travelers
  • ethnic Americans, Canadians, and others
  • women, especially petite women

{About Samta}

When I’m not traveling and/or adventuring (and even when I am), I operate my tech startup, ShaadiShop. ShaadiShop is a marketplace for Indian-friendly wedding venues in California.

During undergrad I decided to study abroad which triggered my travel passion. I lived in Adelaide, Australia for a year and after that, for the next 10 years I spent 1-2 months each year, traveling to various destinations around the globe, on my own while I managed my direct marketing company.

I think traveling solo, prepared me to become an entrepreneur – journeying into new experiences, figuring it out as I went, self-reliance, facing your fears head on, trying new things, and so much more!

Then I decided to get a Masters in Business Administration in southern California, and I met my husband. Now we travel around the globe together and often. I love backpacks, vegetarian and vegan cooking and of course planning our next trip. I’m also kinda addicted to blueberries. =p

Check in on the blog or better yet follow PassportPages to get travel info from around the world. And definitely post your questions and comments. I love hearing from our readers! Cheers!

Samta, Founder, PassportPages

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