5 Ways Google Can Make Planning Your Trip Easier: #5 Google Forms
Wrapping up this series is one final Google App that helps us power our trip – Google Forms. Forms is a data collector. Its uses are unlimited! If you want to collect, well, ANYTHING, a Google Form can do this for you.
Google Forms itself is simple to start and use – as simple as a collection of names, phone numbers, and email addresses, but as complex as a medical questionnaire where your next question depends on your previous answer – and everything in between. Let me give you some examples.
NationsClassroom collects the basic contact information for our travelers when they register for the trip (thank you)! Since they do this work for us, we can shift our focus to pieces specific to our own trips. Forms are the outward-facing link people enter their information in, but Google Sheets truly does the hard work of collecting. You’ll see in each of the following examples.
Example of Forms: T-Shirts
We use a Google Form to sell our trip t-shirts.
We include a picture of our shirt and our questions allow them to purchase the style and size they prefer. The Google Sheet [LINK] comes in next and collects all the purchases. The next step isn’t required, but I use the Add-on “copyDown” to do the math for me [More info about “copyDown” → LINK]. I built the formula to add up the quantity of shirts times the cost of each of them (columns E through V) into the overall quantity (column Y) and cost (column Z). This helps out tremendously! The Sheet isn’t the “prettiest” but it works!
I also ask for an email address. I create an automatic email (you might have read about FormMule in my previous blog post) sent upon submission detailing quantity, cost, what was ordered, and where to send the money. (If you try it out, it should work for you, too. Don’t worry, I won’t contact you to send in your money!) My co-coordinator prints these off (Yep! She gets copied on each order) and she uses them to hand out the shirts. The Sheet is also where she tracks payment. It’s a pretty awesome system!
Example of Forms: Medical Uses
The other major use for Forms for our trip is the collection of medical information.
This is serious business! Traveling with students more than 500 miles … is, well, daunting! Knowing many of our students depend on precautions and routines with their medications is a top concern for us. Each student traveler is required to have a signed form on hand during the trip, but we ask for FAR more information than what we physically carry.
Our “Student Medical Form” is extensive. It has served us extremely well to find out about allergies, dietary restrictions, and various other medical conditions. NationsClassroom can and will make adjustments for a vast majority of these … but you have to know about them. (Thank you, Google Forms!)
Here is where the complex nature of Forms comes into play. I always ask the allergy question. If a traveler does have allergies, they move to questions asking for specifics. On the flip side, if the traveler answers “no”, they don’t see any of those questions! The same goes for emergency contact information… we allow for up to three contacts, but if a traveler only wants to provide two, they don’t see the question for a third.
The Google Sheet of responses to the medical form also allows us to create name tags → hence the question of “preferred name”. We add a column after the fact to include the bus number. We can sort the sheet by bus number and voila! We now have our travelers and medical information separated by bus! I use conditional formatting to color-code particular responses – allergies and dietary restrictions.
ALL of these pieces are housed in my Washington, DC trip folder in my Google Drive. I can access it all thanks to the app on my phone (or any internet-capable device). I add links to Docs, Forms, and our Calendar on our trip’s Site. I use Sheets for a LOT of the “behind the scenes” actions.
Use Forms Again and Again!
I’ve been saving the best part for last … I make a copy of all the pieces from this series and I’m ready to go next year! It is work … the whole trip IS work … but Google is a great tool to use and build on and it makes the planning and organization much easier and therefore a much more enjoyable trip.
Sarah Keifer is a trip leader, teacher, and Google expert! Check out all of her articles on her author page.
Originally published May 2018, updated July 2021