Roadtrip Plan Step Two Part One: Mapping

Death Valley, May 2005 by DK Sanders-Weatherford

Death Valley, May 2005 by DK Sanders-Weatherford

Extreme Roadtrip Planning Step One is basically figuring out which direction you’re going, what part of the country you’re going to. Step Two begins the mapping! Step Two is recalling all the places in that part of the country that you’ve wanted to see and pinning them on a map.

The map….. always an issue for me. Every trip, I’m trying some new, free trip planner app or some old, free trip planner app that has maybe been improved. I’m always disappointed. Maybe it’s the free part, but probably more likely the OCD part. There’s no app that’s going to let me plan the nitty-gritty like I need to do. There’s no app that’s going to check the roadside oddity sites and the penny smashing machine site and the geocaching site for locations near the route. And check the days and times that places are open against our schedule. I’m going to have to do that myself. Most of the apps have location suggestions for attractions, landmarks, museums, parks, cool destinations, and they’re all different; each has places the others don’t. If I only used one, I would miss a lot of places.

Some apps have motel suggestions set to the driving time, and that’s sweet, but on an extreme roadtrip, it’s hard to know where you’re going to be that far in advance. You might think with all the prior planning, that your lodging would be a part of the plan, but it’s not. That’s how extreme roadtripping is. Whenever I’ve planned motels in advance, it has rarely worked out. Every day of a roadtrip, one of my many duties (in addition to planner and navigator and all that) is using my phone to find a motel room as we’re driving away from whatever attraction we visited last that day. Map the route out of town (while still in the parking lot with Terry demanding to know which way to turn) and route us on to the next city or state and book a motel room at the same time. I’m getting pretty good at it, but it’s stressful. One upside to back country camping, I guess.

Another problem is that I still need a place to store links and information about the different places on the route. None of the free travel apps that I’ve looked at have this feature. I’ve used Pinterest for the last few years, just a place to dump links really, and since they got rid of their map feature instead of improving it, travel is not what Pinterest is designed to do. Pinterest also can’t link to many of the travel pages that I want to keep track of (PDF maps for instance).

I always wind up going back to Google Maps. I can at least add links and information to the pins on a map I’ve created. And I can have multiple routes in layers. Since I’m already using Google’s satellite view and street view in the trip planning and utilizing all the place markers that people have added (way more than other maps have), Google Maps is the most convenient and gives me the freedom to plan the extremities of an extreme roadtrip. One BIG problem with Google Maps… You can’t create maps or add markers to a map using an iPhone! I can view my maps on the trip, but I can’t edit them on the road.

There is something new I’ve found! Trello now has a map feature! I’ve just started playing with it, so I don’t know how good it is yet, but I like Trello and have been using it for a while.

Back in the day, I used a highlighter and a Rand McNally atlas, and I was perfectly happy with that.

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