Plan the ultimate road trip with FreeMind
Road trips take a lot of organization - as well as planning the major waypoints on your journey, you also need to consider driving times, places to stay, activities, what to bring and (perhaps most importantly) how to allocate your budget.
Rather than writing everything out as a series of disconnected lists, creating a mindmap or spider diagram will help you think laterally, link ideas and get a lot of information in a small space. Superb free mindmapping software FreeMind will help you get everything on one page, without the hassle of pens and paper.
Every mindmap in FreeMind begins as a blank page, with a single central label. Each label that branches off this one is called a node, and these are arranged in a hierarchy: parent, sibling and child. You can add new child nodes by tapping 'Insert' and create new sibling nodes by tapping 'Enter'.
Start by listing the places you're planning to visit on your trip as child nodes from the central point, then create child nodes for each location for activities and places you're interested in. You can then use Freemind's options to prioritize the activities for each location. You could also create nodes between locations showing how long it'll take to drive from one to the other, and add costs to each activity.
Things might start to look confusing as your map grows, but FreeMind lets you temporarily collapse branches by clicking a parent node. Double-click the node to expand it again. You can also make things clearer by applying formatting - putting each node inside a bubble, applying colors or attaching icons from the menu on the left. Hold Shift and left-click to format nodes as a batch.
Now create a new child node for the essentials that you need to pack, and any preparation required to get them ready. Once you've completed each of these tasks, you can mark with with a tick, chosen from the menu on the left. If you decide to reorganise your list, Freemind lets you nodes between branches, and even move branches to a more logical place by dragging and dropping. Other nodes will shift to make room. If two nodes are very similar, select both and link them via FreeMind's Tools menu.
You might also find it useful to make a list of background reading before you embark on your trip. Add a hyperlink using the Insert menu, then type a descriptive label for it. These could be links to maps, tourist information guides, hotel booking sites or anything else you think will come in handy.
You can link to files on your PC in the same way - though you'll need to save your mindmap first. The MM file format can only be opened by FreeMind, so if you're planning to share your map consider installing PDF24 Creator, which can convert it to PDF format via FreeMind's Print menu.
Mindmaps can be useful for all sorts of other projects, including weddings and house moves, as well as essays and even novels. Download FreeMind and give it a try before hitting the road.