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  1. Default route planning and navigating software

    Hi ALL,

    From the UK and have a road trip this September. We are doing a big loop from new orleans heading up to Nashville, Smokey mountains and then back down and leave from new Orleans. Already now many of the places I want to visit and booked the hotels we are staying however I am having trouble with actually planning the route with a software I can actually use to navigate.

    Been googling incessantly however it seems that there is software to plan and then there is software which can navigate but not something which can do both!!!

    It has been suggested to use google my maps to plan the route and the software seems great but apparently you can use it like an actual gps navigation device!

    Any suggestions would be great as I could just use google maps/waze to navigate between points but I prefer to use more scenic routes which I pre plan rather then the quickest route along the interstate which is what those programs will advise!

    thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Nature of the Beast(s)

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The simple fact is that you're asking for too much. I suppose there might be software out there that will do the job, but not as well or as cheaply as the two different apps you're dealing with now. Mapping software simply does not need to know where you are, just where you're starting from, where you want to stop and where you want to end, so it has no need for the added cost and complexity of a GPS system. And your navigation system doesn't need to know your entire itinerary from start to finish, just where you're going on a particular leg. If you recognize these limitations, you can make the two systems work well for you.

    First, plan out your overall route using any of the many mapping routines available, including our own. You can set multiple different waypoints in this process so that the software takes you to all the places you want to visit, and even force it to go down back roads rather than motorways.

    Once you know where you want to go and how you want to get there, make a list of the waypoints that define your journey, and then feed these to your car's GPS as you progress along your route. Not only will this work, but it allows you the freedom to change a waypoint/route segment without recalculating your entire trip. All you need for this is an index card with a list of your waypoints.

    All of this is another argument for a bit of advice you'll also see frequently here: Use paper maps that provide both a synoptic view of your trip and a permanent record of it. They're old school but they still work.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default We do offer much of what you are looking for, I think

    Welcome to the Trip Advice Forums!

    RTA built a trip planning mapping application called RTA Custom Maps to do exactly (or most of) what you seem to be looking for.

    Plus we already have a dozen or more such routes in the RTA Map library that you can view, download and edit and save into your account. There are several hundred saved RTA Library maps in total.

    The main landing page for this application is found here.

    Plus, you'll receive expert advice here on the forums, routing advice that you can add to your custom maps.

    For instance, if you go to the Advanced Map tab and click on "Search for RTA Library Maps within 100 miles" and then click on New Orleans, you will see three (3) of those saved maps.

    1 Cent-Chattanooga, Tennessee to Ship Island, Mississippi
    2 Cent-New Orleans to Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    3 Cent-New Orleans, Louisiana to Natchez, Mississippi

    And clicking on Nashville you can look at
    4 Cent-Bowling Green to Louisville, Kentucky
    5 Cent-Nashville, Tennessee to Louisville, Kentucky
    6 Cent-Tupelo, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee
    7 Cent-Tupelo, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee on the Natchez Trace
    8 East-Richmond, Virginia to Cent-Fairview, Kentucky

    Plus we have a bunch of routes and articles for states in the southeast.


  4. Default

    Thanks Guys for responding.

    AZBUCK yep it make sense and is what my research is coming up with. What information would work good for navigation units? Longitude and latitude? As im from the UK I cant seem to buy an actual gps unit and the price they want to charge fro the car rental company doesn't make sense. Do you know of a good offline app I can download to use on my phone. I read that the tom tom one is good but have no experience with it?

    Mark -thanks for the response and thanks for the suggestion like AZBUCK - ill have a whirl with it tonight and see how it is. The first lef is going to be new orleans to Natchez so would be good to check out how this route would be planned.

    Just hoping that the the holiday will still go ahead at the moment!!!!!!!!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Android phones should come with Google Maps, and it can be used as a GPS. If you have Google Maps on a desktop or laptop computer, you can send maps you create to your phone.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Navigation

    My Android phone came with a GPS-based app (called Maps Navigation) which you can probably download through the Play Store if you don't have it installed already. I have only used it for following my route as I walk locally. It will allow you to enter a destination (by address, lat/lon, town name, attraction name, etc.) and follow your path as you drive along. However it is always in 'map view', i.e. with north 'up' rather than the more typical car GPS display that has straight ahead 'up'.

    As I said, you just want to map out as much as possible before you hit the ground and then jut put in your next stop as the destination each time you get behind the wheel (with a few intermediate waypoints as needed to keep you on the roads you want to drive rather than the GPS' preferred motorway route). It will also help a great deal if, since you won't have a dash mounted navigation display, to have a co-pilot/navigator to keep an eye on the maps while the driver watches the road and traffic.

    As for New Orleans to Natchez, you can hardly go wrong with just taking US-61, part of the Great River Road, and maybe check out Baton Rouge and some of the wildlife refuges along the way. If (by chance) you're a student of hydrological engineering, a 'must-see' would be the Old River Control Structure which is keeping the Mississippi River where it is rather than where it wants to be.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 06-22-2020 at 03:40 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    The GPS navigation functions on my Android are integrated with Google Maps, and you can set the display to either north up or direction up. Either way, you are represented by an arrow that points in the direction you are heading, and there is also a compass in the corner.

  8. #8


    All of the above plus this:

    1) If using an android phone be sure you have a system provider compatible for USA usage that also has good reception for where you are going.

    2) A GPS unit can be picked up at an electronics store such as Best Buy. You might be able to order it on-line a few days before the trip and have it waiting for you upon arrival at the Pick Up counter.

    A GPS unit such as a Garmin is very handy. It is not cell-phone service limited--the only place you might lose reception is in tunnels, some overhead bridges, some very narrow ravines/canyons. The larger Garmin units are easy on the eyes. Love my Garmin DriveSmart 61, a nice size improvement over my previous two units. If you pick one up at the store you will want to access a good WiFi connection to download software updates. That shouldn't be a problem as most people need an arrival sleepover before embarking on a road trip.

    A couple of additional resources: (explore this planner, you may to zoom-in to see scenic routes)

  9. Default

    Hi Everyone and thank you for contributing.

    I think the suggestions make sense in planning the route with enough waypoints to 'force' any navigation device to take the route i had planned.

    I think its also makes sense to buy a cheap navigation unit when I land in New Orleans. Thanks for the tip Landmariner. Plus i can reuse it on other road trips i go on in the US.

    Just got some bad new this morning though as i read that holiday and a potential sky bridge between the UK & US will not be in place until the end of the year. Took all the fun out of planning the trip and now im planning a trip which looks unlikely to go ahead.

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