by Chris Guld, GeeksOnTour.com
We spend the majority of our life traveling, mostly by RV. I’m starting my plan for 2018 now, yet I’m still filling in the details for the remainder of 2017. I’m not so concerned about turn-by-turn directions – we use a dashboard GPS and enter our destination each day before we get on the road. What I need to know is:
- Where do we want to go?
- Where do we need to be on particular dates?
- How far is it between destinations and how much time do we have to get there?
- If there’s enough time to play, what do we want to see along the way?
- Where have we been? I like a map to record our travels – see our Blog’s map page.
Google Maps is my go-to app. It is so easy to do a quick check on “How far is it from point A to point B?” or “What is the best route from point A to point B?” Using Google Maps, I can also see what campgrounds are in the area or what museums, restaurants, post office, grocery stores are nearby. I use this all the time when we are in a location and need to know what is around us, but there are better apps for specific purposes:
- Allstays Camp & RV for finding campgrounds or other places to park
- TripAdvisor for what museums or other attractions to see
Google Maps does not create a permanent map. For that I use Google My Maps. It is based on Google Maps but it is stored in your Google Account so you can refer to it any time and edit it continually. I start planning 2018 by creating a Google My Map and entering the places I know we need to be: Perry, GA, in March for the FMCA convention; Sedalia, MO, in May for the Escapade; Sevierville, TN, in September for the Carriage Travel Club rally … etc. These are our working ‘gigs’ and we need to be there at certain times to present our seminars, so they get markers on the map first. Then we look at the map and start researching where to go in between. Inexplicably, Google My Maps does not display the information of how far it is between destinations, and it has no facility for calculating dates. Between Google Maps and Google Calendar it certainly has access to this information. I can’t wait until the capability to record distances for travel segments and arrival dates is built into Google My Maps. Literally, I can’t wait – I need to have something now! I have found possibilities:
- Roadtrippers – is a beautiful app/website that is easy to use and clearly displays distance between destinations. It doesn’t actually calculate an arrival date, but it does have a calendar where you enter a date yourself. Roadtrippers has a cool feature called Guide where you can see an overall report of your planned trip and add your own notes. You can even share this “Guide” with friends, but I don’t see where you can add your own photos. Roadtrippers is especially good at showing you attractions and things to do in an area. You cannot enter your own places.
- Furkot – is the only trip-planning app that can do what the old Streets and Trips software did with distances. You can enter how far (or how long) you want to drive each day, and Furkot will show you where you will be each night along the way. Furkot also calculates dates of arrival based on distance and the number of nights you enter for each stay. I almost could use Furkot as my one and only app, but only Google My Maps lets me add my photos (from Google Photos of course) to the markers of where we’ve been.
- RV Trip Wizard – specifically for RVers, this program not only calculates distances and dates but also costs.
There is no one perfect map for what I need.
- Where to go
- How and when to get there
- Where we’ve been
Google My Maps is good at 1 and 3, so that is what I use. I tried using Furkot just to fill in #2, but it was way too cumbersome to work with 2 mapping programs. I now use RVNotepad to fill in the blanks for #2. The Trip Planning module for RVNotepad is in spreadsheet form with built-in calculations. Enter a stop in one city and then enter another stop and it calculates the miles between the two. Enter the number of days you’re going to stay at any one stop and it calculates the date you will arrive at your next destination. I can keep manipulating the cities and the days to get the mileages and dates I need. Using RVNotepad for this part of my planning means I’m not duplicating efforts on a map program. RVNotepad also has some other functions I need like gas mileage calculations and RV maintenance records. Here’s more info about RVNotepad: Travel Planning: The missing app is RVNotepad.
Other Travel Planning Maps
I’d love to hear from anyone who uses a travel planning map that they really like. Please leave a comment below. Besides the ones I’ve mentioned above, you might use: