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  1. Default Road Trip Planning Tool?

    Hey Roadtrip America people,

    I'm trying to find a replacement for planning my road trips - Google Earth is the best I've found, but it's not designed for it, and it's buggy. :/

    Here's the story:
    My wife and I have been going on two or three road trips a year for a few years now. We pick out a state (or theoretically country), then we go to all the road trip sites, buy/check out books from the library, etc, and come up with a list of all the fun looking activities in the state. Then we go through that list and organize/prioritize/etc. This is the hard part. We often try to organize by day, but sometimes things take too long. Sometimes we organize by activity type, but often that isn't a useful sort.

    What I'd like to find is a program that does basic map things (search for company names or addresses and have it put a temporary icon on a map, with some basic info about the thing) as well as the following:
    Good "My Places" type information handling: Saving search result icons, adding custom icons, saving notes about the places, allowing a "directions to/from here" interface. A key here (which is the part I rarely see) would be sorting/labeling my places, so I can hide/show certain groups. Labels would be best, so I could have a restaurant as "wed" and "thu" - then while I am in the area for two days, I can easily check both days. But old school sorting would be okay too. This aspect is 95% of what I'm interested in, and what seems to be least well developed in most of today's road trip tools (they focus on planning routes, which my GPS does for me already, and pre-planning every road you're going to take, which never works out 'cause some things take longer than others, or maybe it rains on the day you planned to walk around outside...) -- trips are much too dynamic to plan fully ahead of time, I just want to plan my options ahead of time then make decisions on the trip!
    If at all possible, an iphone or android app to view the data while traveling, 'cause bringing out a laptop is always extra cumbersome. :)

    Anyone have any ideas for this? I saw the RTA map tool, and it looks like it might, but it also seems very focused on routes and paths, and I didn't see much emphasis on data manipulation/storage/etc... I plan to give it a try, though -- but figured I'd post as well, 'cause in the past, I usually find I have 500 things to try out, none of them are what I want, then I finally post, and a week later someone responds with the perfect tool that I want and somehow never found. :)

    Thanks everyone,


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you really should take a closer look at the RTA Map Center (and not just the more stripped down Map Wizard.)

    I would really disagree that it is focused on routes and paths, quite the opposite really.

    The focus is the 1100+ (and growing) database of attractions, as well as the ability to add your own stops into into your own custom plan. To me, that sounds a whole lot like what you are looking for?

    Meanwhile, one of the more frequent questions/complaints is that it does not include detailed/step-by-step route instructions, as that really is not the focus.

    I will say if the RTA Map Center isn't what you are looking for, I'd have a hard time thinking of a better tool that's available.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Your only other alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    ... I'd have a hard time thinking of a better tool that's available.
    Try taking a large paper map, and writing all this on the map... you can always rub it out, if you do it in pencil. (And if the map wears out, AAA members get them free!)

    Quote Originally Posted by xelepart View Post
    If at all possible, an iphone or android app to view the data while traveling, 'cause bringing out a laptop is always extra cumbersome. :)
    And relying on technology while on the road is not advisable. It is not a replacement for a paper map, it is an adjunct to good paper maps.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I have personally tried several trip planners on computer. I'm with Lifey - a good map, a couple of great books, and the computer *as a tool* is what I still prefer. My husband tells me that I have a love affair with maps - - (I told him better that than.....and he laughed.)

    Maps: free at AAA, or buy a cheap atlas at Wal-Mart, through this website, or at your favorite book dealer.

    Books: from the library, AAA, through this website or your favorite book dealer. (My favorites are AAA and the library ... free!)

    Computer: this website's resources (just discovered this past spring), the chamber of commerce or visitor information bureau websites for places we will spend time in, website referrals, these forums.

    Time: It takes time to plan a good trip. But planning is half the fun of a trip! Then of course if you are a working stiff like me, you have to find the vacation time. If you have a partner also a working stiff, finding the SAME time together can be a challenge!

    Tie them all up with a big bow and ... voila ... trip!


  5. Default

    Sure, we have a map with us, but we're young spoiled people, both of us have had basically non-stop Internet since we were ten, so the idea of planning the trip out on the paper maps is just not gonna fly for us. We have them as a backup, but we have three devices in the car that can access our "things we want to do" with or without internet (they are backed up on our local drives), and honestly, I was lost on a two hour long dirt road in the middle of mountains last week, and I still had 3G. I'm not too worried about the paper vs. technology debate, I'll go with technology 'cause a few tacks on a map will never be able to replace a three paragraph description of all 300+ options for things to do in a state, along with cost, hours, phone number, and a variety of "best path" options. :)

    I'll be trying out any tools people suggest over the next couple weeks, before we start planning our next trip. The RTA tools are certainly on the list -- that's the other thing, I guess I forgot to mention: we don't really care about (or want shoved in our faces) the list of 11000 things other people found/did/etc. We do the research ahead of time, we get our own personal list of 300, and when Google Earth/Maps starts sticking local restaraunts and hotels in our way while we're trying to decide which of our things to do, that's just frustrating. :)

    Is there an RTA iphone app (or are there plans for one) that integrates with the online RTA tools?

    Thanks for the responses,

    DonnaR57 - which tools do you like best?


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Custom Maps - 100% up to you

    Quote Originally Posted by xelepart View Post
    we don't really care about (or want shoved in our faces) the list of 11000 things other people found/did/etc.
    The RTA RoadTrip Attraction Library is just a resource. You never have to use any of it. There are some helpful tools that you can use to start your own research.

    1) Drive Circles -- Sometimes when one is new to an area, the Drive Circle tool can be helpful it show a circle around a given spot (city, campground, etc.) in 100 to 500 mile radius so you can see what's reasonably near any given point.

    2) Once a route is calculated (drawn by the software) you can search for attractions we've written short articles about along the route in a radius from 1 mile to 100 miles from the route.

    3) You can also click on any spot in North America and find attractions we've published mini-articles about on that same range: 1 mile to 100 miles.

    4) You can create a route, load the RTA attractions and then remove the ones you're not interested in and save the map and keep editing it with your own Custom Places.

    5) At the moment the only icon that is available to members for their Custom Places is the red paddle, one of these days, we'll expand the icon library.

    6) And, of course, whatever you put on your personal routes and personal maps, is private. It's not viewable by anyone except you and those you've chosen to share it with.

    And one more point about the RTA RoadTrip Attractions -- these are not member-submitted write-ups. Only professional writers are invited to participate in this endeavor and every single RA is hand-checked by a RTA editor prior to publication.


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