Going Paperless: 3 Ways Evernote Helps Me Remember My Vacations

I have recently returned from our annual summer vacation up in Maine. It is always fun, and always relaxing, and except for a relatively minor touch of food poisoning1, this year was no exception.

One thing I noticed was that I was less active online for the week I was on vacation–even more so than I usually am when I’m on vacation. I attribute this to trying to live more in the moment and enjoy the time with my family. I wasn’t trying to capture every moment, as I often had in the past. That said, I still have a pretty good record of our vacation, despite dialing things back a notch, and for that, I have Evernote and some automation to thank. So today, I thought I’d share 3 ways that Evernote helped me remember my vacation, without too much of an effort on my own part.

1. Checking in with Foursquare

When we would arrive somewhere that I wanted to remember, I would take one simple action when we got there: checking in on Foursquare. I use Foursquare in the social sense. Instead, I use it to capture where I’ve been. I don’t use it for every place I go. I don’t check into grocery stores, for instance. But if I am traveling somewhere, I use it as a quick way of capturing the places I visited.

I have an IFTTT recipe that sends all of my Foursquare check-ins to Evernote. These notes in Evernote become the basis for the record of my vacation.

IFTTT Recipe: Capture check-ins on foursquare in Evernote connects foursquare to evernote

My IFTTT recipe tags these notes as “foursquare”, making them easy to find. With a simple search, I can find all of the check-ins for my vacation. For the trip to Maine, for instance, that search looks like this:

created:20140627 -created:20140707 tag:foursquare

This tells Evernote to look for notes between 6/27/2014 and 7/7/2014 tagged “foursquare.” It results in 15 notes for the places I checked-in while on vacation:

4sq Checkins

2. Add notes to my check-ins as part of my Daily Review

When I am on vacation, I still do a daily review of my notes each evening. One thing I do on vacation is add any additional notes about the trip to the check-in notes. If I learned some interesting fact that I want to record, or if the kids had a certain reaction to something that they saw, I’ll record it as part of the Foursquare check-in. This allows me to have it all in context of the place we visited. Here is one example from our visit to Acadia National Park:

Jordan Pond Note

Adding the notes in my daily review allows me to review the events of the day after they’ve happened, instead of what I used to do, pausing in the middle of the action to jot something down. I like this new way much better. It’s less intrusive on the family time.

There are some things we do, or places we go where I don’t check in on Flickr–for instance, visiting a friend or relative. In this case, if there are things I want to remember, I’ll just created a note during my daily review to record to those things.

3. Add links to photos on Flickr

I don’t store my photos in Evernote. I use Flickr. Evernote is a great tool for many things, but for photos, I want a tool specifically geared toward photo management. That said, as you might have noticed in the image above, I include links to the photos I take at the places I check-in in that same note:

Photos on Flickr

This way, I don’t have to go hunting for the photos when I want to see the pictures I took at certain place on our vacation.

I’ve found that doing these three things allow me to focus my attention on what I am doing–to live more in the moment during vacations, rather than worry about trying to capture every instant of them. The result, thanks to automation and a brief daily review in the evenings, is that I have a pretty darn good record of my vacation anyway.

If you have a suggestion for a future Going Paperless post, let me know. Send it to me at feedback [at] jamietoddrubin.com. As always, this post and all of my Going Paperless posts is also available on Pinterest.

Last week’s post: Quick Tip: See Evernote Reminders in a Calendar with Sunrise App.

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  1. It really wasn’t too bad. Not nearly as bad as the case of food poisoning I got camping 15 years ago or so.


  1. Nice! I do that too. It’s so easy to check in at Foursquare (now Swarm) and it remembers you to write something about that check-in. “Dinner with these friends, etc”. The only problem is the note geotag. The Atlas, unfortunately, doesn’t not follow the exactly location of check-in. But this would exist only with a Evernote-Foursquare integration, I believe.

    1. Fernando, I’ve thought I’d like to see the same thing: either a way to directly integrate Foursquare location into Evernote, or the ability to grab lat and long from Foursquare and populate the location field in Evernote with that data. But right now that field isn’t exposed in IFTTT.

  2. Well, I just got the scansnap scanner and installed it. 10 minutes in and I’m ready to return it. NOT ONE of my receipts is scanning legibly. Oh, and one of them caused a paper jam. All within the first 10 minutes. The images are all FAR too light to read. This is useless since I need them for the IRS for my taxes. I was all excited thinking I’d be able to do away with paper and have access to anything at all times since I’m on the road a lot.

    I don’t understand how it can work so well for you and so badly for me. I’ve always had bad computer karma but this really takes the cake.


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