The modern approach to road trip planning

The road trip is a sacred ritual carried out by all self-respecting motorists, but is it keeping up with the times? Ask most people how they plan their road trips, and you’ll get a variety of answers from the haphazard to the old school. Only rarely do you find someone who is using the best tool of all, Google maps. Yes, most will use it, along with a sat nav to get some directions and alternative routes, but would you think of using it to learn and discover more about the route itself? This week we look at how Google maps can help you plan your trip, even on those seemingly boring country or desert roads.

The steps

Take the route you’re travelling and go through a few steps to see what’s on offer;

1. First turn on Wikipedia layers (as noted in the picture) – This will help you find interesting places on your route. Despite what people say, every road has something of note.

2. Now try turning on the pictures, videos and terrain layers – This will give you a real understanding of what you might see. People really do take pictures of interesting stuff which may not be noted in travel books or Wikipedia so take a nice long look.

3. Always double check using either street view, aerial or even go one step further by using bird’s eye view on Bings map – the placement of images, videos and Wikipedia articles may be inaccurate so use these tools to double check before setting out.

Making a map

Why not use Google maps to make a helpful map to help you find the interesting spots on your journey? Here is one I made for a recent trip to Kalgoorlie. They can really help, and because Google’s services are all online you can access it from a phone or a desktop anywhere. Here are some helpful tips on making a map;

1. Check out this informative video about how to make a google map - this should help you with the basic map making techniques.

2. Mark the locations of the interesting images and Wikipedia article’s you want to include on your trip - don’t forget to include links and phone numbers as these will be very helpful later when you’re relying on your phone.

3. Don’t forget to search for spots using the search bar - searching for “restaurants” and “tourist attractions” will help you build your map.

4. Print out some of the key elements – Things fail, the best thing to do is to print out your map and your routes interesting spots (with phone numbers). This literally takes 2 minutes but forgetting to print it out can cost you later.

Road trips don’t necessarily require a great deal of preparation, however preparing the right way will help you massively. Taking time to plan the trip is just one thing you should do before you go, its also a good idea to check your vehicle and provisions as noted in this article. What I’ve outlines above may seem complicated and long winded, however if done right it only really takes about twenty minutes. These twenty minutes may seem long now but trust me, its worth it when you remember there’s nothing worse than driving for hours with “nothing to see”.

Have you ever had a road trip nightmare?

Do you think making a map is overkill?

Please comment below

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Categories: Driving Tips, Technology
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