OneNote as personal travel guide: Using OneNote on trip

We are ready to go and use OneNote as our main source of information when travelling around. Before going we have to make sure we have our travel guide available in our pockets. We need also some good plan how to use it and how to update it if needed. This posting tells you how to travel with OneNote effectively.


Before going out make sure you have all changes synchronized to your devices you take with you. You need your travel guide also when moving from point A to point B.

Sync notebook from SkyDrive to your devices

Some examples what information I check from phone:

  • when and where is our flight departing,
  • when we should be at gates,
  • what is the interval of trains to next city,
  • where is train station,
  • where is my hotel.

Okay, to find hotel I often use maps in my phone. When going to next place I don’t want to unpack my bag just to get laptop or tablet out. Yes, even tablet with its small screen is way better than mobile but I prefer to not waste time and move on.

Offline information is mandatory! You don’t have free or normally working internet available everywhere. It’s possible data roaming fees are very high. If you don’t have important information available offline with you then you lose time and money to get this information.

OneNote on mobile

OneNote on mobile is limited and you don’t get full power of desktop OneNote but it is still good enough to read notes. You are quick on using mobile. It’s easy to take it out from pocket, check something and put it back. It’s your fastest way to get information.

Pages of OneNote note book are rendered a little bit differently on mobile phone and if possible then don’t make any edits on it. It may easily screw up your nice formatted texts. Use it for reading only.

Some cases where you prefer to use mobile:

  • what is the address of something,
  • what was the name of pub,
  • show the street or place name to some local if you can’t spell it correctly,
  • what are ticket prices for local public transportation,
  • how I get from bus station to hotel,
  • what is the name of metro stop near hotel.

You can find more quick questions like this and usually they have all short answer. You can right from start organize this kind of information to special mobile targeted page in your note book.

OneNote on Surface RT

Surface RT is good companion when having time to sit down and wait. You have also information you prefer read from bigger screen and this is where Surface RT comes in. Besides reading you can also watch videos and take a look at photos with Surface RT. Some scenarios:

  • good to view maps with lot of details (like small streets etc),
  • good to read information about some attraction (it’s possible the text is longer than just couple of short paragraphs),
  • good on making quick edits to travel guide.

You can also use Surface RT to educate kids on next places where you all go but this is the topic for another blog post.

OneNote on laptop

On laptop or Surface Pro you can use full version of OneNote and if you need to make a lot of editing to your travel guide then it’s best to do on laptop. You type faster on laptop and it is more convenient to you. Also screen size is better.

In practice after some experience you are good enough on your travel guides to need no additional editing of pages. Also you will find out what are your weakest sides on information preparation work and you will leave room there for edits on mobile phone or tablet.


OneNote may be great help for you when travelling. If your home work is done well then you and your friends have all important information available through all your trip and you are quick on getting information you prepared. Creating travel guide like this can be time consuming at home but it saves you a lot of time when on the trip. As SkyDrive works extremely well on file sharing you can also share your travel guide with your friends so everybody on the trip is informed well.

Gunnar Peipman

Gunnar Peipman is ASP.NET, Azure and SharePoint fan, Estonian Microsoft user group leader, blogger, conference speaker, teacher, and tech maniac. Since 2008 he is Microsoft MVP specialized on ASP.NET.

    One thought on “OneNote as personal travel guide: Using OneNote on trip

    • February 4, 2015 at 11:06 am

      I used to have OneNote whenever I travel. It’s useful and easy to access but, my phone broke and I need to replace it. Nonetheless, I could tell, this is truly useful whenever you are traveling!

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