Travel Workflows

Hi all,

In light of the latest episode I thought it was time to share some of the travel workflows I have been working on. I have been intending to write some of these up properly but haven’t got around to it yet so I thought I’d at least put this out there as a start! (I initially started this as a reply to the episode post, but then it grew and I thought perhaps I should split it out in its own.) This is in the iOS category but some of these have a bit going on on macOS as well.

I’m from Australia but am currently living in Spain, and so am trying to take the opportunity to travel as much as possible—hence the potentially excessive nature of the following list!

Before a trip

New Trip Shortcut

I have a Siri shortcut set up which is mostly a project template for Omnifocus and sounds like it is not that dissimilar to what Rose has done. First, I manually create a new folder in my ‘Travel’ category in OF (I haven’t found a way to automate this from Shortcuts at this stage, but it’s easy enough). Then I run this shortcut which sets up (in this folder):

  • A project for organising accommodation
  • A project for organising transport
  • A project for organising things to do (prompts me to check a number of sources for ideas, draft a basic itinerary, and make any bookings I want to make, basically)
  • A project for preparing to leave for the trip (turn off the heating, pack bags—with a link to the packing list project, etc)
  • A packing list

All of the above templates vary depending on a number of factors—I can select who is travelling (just myself, or myself and my partner), and whether it is a road trip/international trip/potentially cold weather/etc; and the shortcut also works out whether the trip should be considered ‘long’ and adds some extra actions if the trip is more than, say, 7 days.

In addition, it creates a couple of Omnifocus tasks: one to remind me daily on my trip to save the photos of my partner’s phone (which is always low on space, and, since we share a Photos library under my Apple ID, not automatically backed up except to Google Photos); and one to unpack from the trip after I get back.

The Shortcut also sets up a new folder in a format like “Madrid (2019-02-01 - 2019-02-05)”. Hazel watches the Shortcuts folder and moves this to my Travel folder.

Travel Confirmations

Like Rose, I use TripIt to save these, automatically add them to a calendar, and also share the itinerary with family members who might want to keep a track of where in the world I am. I also like their widget which shows upcoming events at a glance.

I am experimenting with AirMail at the moment so that I can press one button and forward these to TripIt as well as save them, but failing this I will continue to save them manually.

Once saved, these go to the AirMail folder in iCloud. Again, I have Hazel watch this folder to find anything and move them to my Desktop where the bulk of my other Hazel rules run.

I have just finished putting together (though have not extensively tested) a Keyboard Maestro macro (run by a Hazel action) that, using the check-in date as identified by Hazel (which in some cases I have to input manually) is able to identify the correct travel folder to file the confirmation into, based on the dates. I’m rather proud of this and hope it continues to work! :slight_smile:

Travel Planning

Not really an automation, but feels like it fits in this post.

I have been trying (and mostly failing) to find an iPad and iPhone-friendly travel app that:

  • allows me to save places (restaurants, museums, etc) I am interesting in visiting
  • lets me view these places on a map
  • allows me to assign SOME (but not necessarily all) of these places to a particular day of a trip
  • allows me to make notes on these items (for example, to alert me that if I want to go to Museum X for free I should go on Mondays, or to remind me why I was interested in a place)
  • (Bonus) Allows custom tags
  • (Bonus) Allows me to subscribe to the events I have scheduled on my calendar, or at least see them all in one place
  • (Bonus) Has the ability to tag places as ‘if I’m nearby’ or similar and alert me if I am nearby (Mapstr does this but lacks the itinerary options)

At the moment I am tentatively working with recently-discovered Sygic Travel using its ‘Favourites’ category as a catch-all and with the intention of adding anything I might want notifications for to Mapstr. I have yet to road-test this solution—and would love to hear if anyone has a better suggestion. My biggest issues (which are not deal-breakers at the moment) are that I can’t save notes about a place until I have assigned it to a day, and that I can’t assign a place to a trip without assigning it to a day. Also I don’t love that everything is stuck in the app itself and there aren’t very many view options—for example you can only see one day at a time and I would quite like a multi-day view. Also it can be difficult to identify the places you have marked on the map and the UI doesn’t totally work the way I expect.

During a trip

Open Travel Confirmations

I have Hazel watch the Travel subfolders and a day or two before a trip starts move that folder to my desktop with the name ‘Current Trip’. I have a Siri Shortcut set up to open straight to this folder if I need to access anything in it.

Time in Australia

I have just added a Shortcut which uses the TimeZoneDB API to show the time in Australia. I experimented with a number of apps for this (and used Klok for a while) but since I don’t need it that often I think I prefer this, which sits in neatly with the rest of my shortcuts.

Adding Omnifocus Tasks in Another Time Zone

Since I work for an accounting firm back in Australia (and am continuing to do some part-time work while I am in Spain) I have a lot of deadlines that are based in Australia. I have set up project templates in Shortcuts for a number of the projects I regularly complete, and I pair these with another shortcut to make handling the time zones easier.

Basically, I have set up a ‘Convert from Australian Time’ shortcut which takes a date/time as input and returns a converted date/time as output. It was a little bit tricky to set up because I wanted it to return local time, wherever I am. I ended up having it convert the current time to Australian time first (using another shortcut shared with the Time in Australia shortcut), then working out the time difference and adjusting the due/other date based on this. I can use this Shortcut in my project templates so that the due date is always correctly aligned with Australia, no matter where in the world I am. (I hope that explanation made sense!)

Find (& Get Directions To) ‘Home’ or Next Event

I have a shortcut set up to try to work out where I am sleeping at the moment! This looks at my TripIt calendar and basically checks to see if I am between a check-in and a check-out event (i.e. if I am staying somewhere out of the ordinary). If I am, it returns my location and if not it returns my home address (or, at least, the address where I am currently living.)

I do a couple of things with this. For example, I use this Shortcut as part of my morning routine to put my phone into low battery mode if I am not at home (as I’m likely to be out and about for much of the day).

When I am travelling I can tap on another Shortcut ‘Get Directions Home’ which will open Google Maps and give me directions back to my accommodation, wherever this might be. I really enjoy this Shortcut!

I also have a similar shortcut set up to get directions to the next event on my calendar—which is, of course, often populated by TripIt. :slight_smile:

Miscellaneous Bits & Pieces

I have a few other shortcuts which while not strictly travel shortcuts I have found very useful when travelling:

  • Our numbers: We have different phone numbers here in Spain which we a) have not memorised and b) needed to keep telling people or entering on paperwork. I have set up a shortcut which pulls the phone numbers from our contact info and shows them instantly. It’s come in handy a number of times! I imagine this could potentially be helpful for other frequently-used numbers (passports, etc) subject to questions of privacy.

  • A ‘call’ shortcut: I have set up a shortcut which presents a menu of my most frequent contacts, which obviously would be useful everywhere, but I have found this to be particularly useful in a long-term travelling context because often the way I call these people varies. For example, if I want to call my workplace in Australia I have a plan where I just call the landline at no extra cost; if I want to call my Mum I use FaceTime audio; if I want to call my stepchildren I use FaceTime video; if I want to call my brother I need to use Facebook Messenger…having added these directly to this shortcut I don’t need to think about it again unless something changes!

  • A ‘translate’ shortcut: I use SpanishDict for quick translations to/from Spanish, so I set up this shortcut to prompt me for a word and from there quickly work out the URL and open the relevant page in Safari. (It can also be used via the share extension which auto-populates the input.) It probably saves me a couple of seconds here and there. :slight_smile:

After a trip

Not much left to do here, but I do have Hazel automatically delete the ‘Current Trip’ folder I have been using after the trip ends.

**

Well…I guess that’s it. That got out of control rather quickly, don’t you think? Hopefully it can provide some inspiration for someone, haha.

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P.S I knew I had spent too much time working on these automations when I dreamt Rose called me and I got to tell her about them. I was very excited…perhaps indicative of the fact that I can’t quite explain these things to Normal People. (Of course living overseas with mediocre Spanish means I can’t explain much of anything to anyone at the moment, haha.) Thanks for the imaginary chat @RosemaryOrchard!

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You’re welcome! I like to think of myself as an interactive rubber duck :wink:

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