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Best Roadtrip Planning Method?

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I am planning a cross-country roadtrip. I am using Garmin MapSource software to map around 100 waypoints around the country which works great. I now need to plan out the 9,630 miles and 185 hours of driving time plus stops for a 4-week period of time. What is the best way to do this? Can you recommend some software or web sites?

 

Thanks,

Allan

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I am planning a cross-country roadtrip. I am using Garmin MapSource software to map around 100 waypoints around the country which works great. I now need to plan out the 9,630 miles and 185 hours of driving time plus stops for a 4-week period of time. What is the best way to do this? Can you recommend some software or web sites?

 

Thanks,

Allan

 

Allan,

 

First a big welcome!

 

I use a combination of Delorme products with great satisfaction. I own a Delorme PN-20 GPS, Delorme Topo USA software, and the Delorme LT-40.

 

I create my route on my computer using the Delorme Topo USA software, which is excellent for trip planning (your question). I create a route in Topo USA and upload it to my PN-20 GPS. On the road I follow the route on the PN-20 GPS which will display fully detailed maps, with route, in color.

 

In the evening (or every couple of evenings) I download the actual track I followed from the PN-20 GPS to the Topo USA on my netbook, so I have a detailed, second by second track on my computer for future use.

 

When I get home, I use another piece of software to match the track to my digital photos, which automatically batch enters the time and coordinates into the EXIF in the photos. This allows me to always know where the photos were taken, at what exact time, and place, and to place them on digital maps like Google Earth.

 

The track on the Topo USA allows me to go back years later and know where I was, when, which is important on a transcontinental trip….because your memory isn’t perfect!

 

I can also use my net book and the LT-40 to give me a bigger screen view of my track live. It provides the functionality of the PN-20 for the much lower cost of the LT-40, assuming you have a netbook or laptop you don’t mind setting on the seat next to you. This is not recommended if you are traveling with someone (although I have convinced my wife to close the netbook and leave it running in the footwell, so the computer records the track and maintains live locations and route info, available when I need it) !!

 

Recognizing that you already have a GPS, and may not want to take a laptop along, the Delorme Topo USA or Street Atlas USA are my preferred tools, in any event. I have used Microsoft Street and Trips, and find it very good as well, but just not my favorite. Both work.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Even if there is a perfect solution, it's unlikely to be the same for everyone. The DeLorme based setup that KtSotR describes works well for him and I believe forum admins, the Bremers, use a similar rig and are happy with it. I really like the DeLorme software (I'm currently using SA 2008) for planning but feel I need voice guidance which the DeLorme GPS units don't offer so it's a Garmin Quest for me. While it's possible to load routes straight from SA to the Quest, the maps are just a wee bit different and strange things can result. (My favorite: "In 500 feet make a U-turn then make a U-turn") I avoid that by adjusting the routes in MapSource before downloading. Tedious it is, but better in my living room than on the road.

 

You say you've used MapSource to "map around 100 waypoints" but, since you're asking about drive planning, I'm guessing you've not tied these together in a route. MapSource does provide routing, of course, and, if you like working with that product (it prompted a "works great") that might be your best choice for routing. I know it doesn't provide a few things, such as predicting gas and overnight stops, that SA does but I don't considerate those particularly useful anyway. I ignore the gas stops and miss the overnights by hours. My own preference for SA probably has more to do with familiarity than any specific feature.

 

Regardless of the tools you use, a near 10,000 mile trip will probably encounter some limits and will need to be broken into segments. SA limits a route to 100 waypoints. I don't know what this limit might be for MapSource. I imagine whatever GPS you use has limitations, too. Because I've already dealt with SA's limits for individual routes, they've not encountered that problem when fed to the Quest but I have hit a total waypoint limit with long trips. Waypoints, not miles, seem to be the limiting factor and there's no way to convert between them. Following I-70 across Ohio may require no waypoints at all while following the old National Road across the same 200 miles requires lots.

 

So, welcome to the forums and I hope you come back with maybe some specific questions or particular issues you have in planning this trip. And let us in on the trip itself. You can bet a 10,000-mile 4-week drive has some folks around here paying attention.

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Regardless of the tools you use, a near 10,000 mile trip will probably encounter some limits and will need to be broken into segments.

My method is to first do a rough routing of the entire trip, and then break it down into days. I like to overplan everything, so the first thing I do is determine where I want to spend each night. I then break up the trip into one file per day, which lets me more easily customize the particular day--add in stopovers for attractions, lunch, etc. I usually end up plotting out and researching a place to eat lunch and dinner during this phase, based around the estimated times between waypoints.

 

By the time I am ready to go on the trip, I have usually done so much research that there aren't too many surprises... in some ways, I think I have taken some of the mystery out of it, but it works well for our family of four. If it were just me, I probably would be a little more spontaneous, but when our boys start asking "how far until we eat", I like to be able to tell them about where we are going and how far it is.

 

Chris

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Good afterrnoon,

 

 

I do use DeLorme also, as Denny said. My husband Pat has Topo and I have XMap. I follow Dave's process, practically to the letter. I have the DeLorme PN-40. I agree with Denny, in that the DeLorme GPS is not as well-suited for road navigation (especially if a a person is alone (I reviewed it about a year ago in American Road). I also have a Garmin nuvi for road navigation, but when traveling together, we navigate our planned route with the DeLorme.

 

It would be perfect if DeLorme would manufacture a road navigation GPS, which could track trips, allow for import of planned routes from the DeLorme software, and be responsive as an auto unit.

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Good afterrnoon,

 

 

It would be perfect if DeLorme would manufacture a road navigation GPS, which could track trips, allow for import of planned routes from the DeLorme software, and be responsive as an auto unit.

 

Jennifer,

 

Well said!

 

I wonder why they didn't figure that out with the PN-20 or 40? It comes so close, but for my senior eyes, the screen is somewhat small while driving....thus the netbook.

 

And I don't think the netbook approach I cited earlier should be ignored, especially if you don't already have a laptop You get a lot of utility and flexibility for the dollars invested..... under $300 for complete maps, a GPS, a laptop, a wifi connection, a photo storage unit, and you can add 3G networking if you like. You can even Skype the family from the motel, and post your trip to the forum as it is happening.... a la Denny.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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I use the "shotgun" method. For example: I took a trip to the San Antonio, TX, area from Memphis. Looking at the map (paper as well as Streets and Trips) I found that U S 79 runs thru Memphis on down across Arkansas and winds up just north of Austin. Close enough for gov'mt work.

 

Did deviate a little - 79 goes thru Shreveport and then west. So I when I came to 82 I went west to Texarkana, then south on 59 back to 79.

 

No planning, just climbed in the car and went. Found most of the route pretty much empty of cars, about 50/50 2-lane/4-lane, cruise along about 60/70 - and best of all NO D&*^*(&D 18 wheelers!!!!!!!!!! Well, ok, once or twice maybe. :D

 

Only trouble with 79 - great if you like cotton fields (Arkansas) or other crops (Texas) and miles and miles of flat, open road. Did find a very nice bridge across the White River and an interesting, almost like an aqueduct for cars over some wet spot. I'll have to try and get pictures of that next trip.

 

I've done a number of day trips around here - tracing out U S 51 and U S 61 in the area, going about 50 or 60 miles from Memphis. Again, no real planning - just go and find out what's out there.

 

That's my method.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

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I have a personal preference for the low-tech method described by Alex Burr. I enjoy the excitement of setting out into the unknown, so excessive planning somewhat dims my anticipation. My specific method is to sit down with my Rand McNally road atlas and a highlighter. If I'm feeling in the flow then places on the map seem to glow. I can feel my intuition move me to trace a certain route in neon yellow. And then when I'm on the road, it's easy to explore a road I didn't plan to. I've experienced some powerful serendipity this way.

 

Andrew Van Winkle

Road Trip Wise

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Ouch, this has helped me too.... a bit?????

 

I have to route my trip to 26 towns called Manchester, which covers 21 states...... I can not find a simple program (google is hard, so is Yahoo) to locate and optimise 26 way points over such a great distance (9-12000 miles).

 

Once I have that sorted I have to re-route to include things to see, and places not to miss.

 

Manchester UK to the airport I can manage.

 

NH to CA, via the whole country.......... I am struggling with.

 

ANYONE HELP????? :rolleyes:

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Ok, here's what I did with your planning. I went to Streets and Trips - and typed Manchester, just plain Manchester, in the "Find" box. Click on Find and it gives you all the Manchesters in the country from Maine to California. Next, just for exercise I started, in the Find box, with Manchester, Maine (It's gonna be a big help if you write all these down that you find in the Find box - then you can sort them out - like Manchester, NH (start), Machester, Maine; Manchester, Vermont; Manchester, Massachusetts; Manchester, CT and so on.

 

Then go to the Add to Route Box (you don't have to type each one in either the find or the Add to Route box - simply select the state the Manchester you want in the find box, then it will automatically show up in the Add To Route Box. Click on Add to Route and it will show up in the list below (but only the Name Manchester will show up.

 

Once you get them all lined up in the route box, click on Get Directions. From there you can fine tune it to the roads you want. Time consuming, but I don't know how else to do it - but there may be somebody here who can simplify it for you.

 

Safe Travels.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

Edited by Alex Burr - hester_nec

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Does Streets & Trips optimize the order in which he should visit the cities?

 

I've played with this kind of thing using the free trip planners on the internet (Mapquest, Bing, Google), but I believe they all require you to select the order of the waypoints first, then they'll do the routing between them. For my real trips driving US routes end to end it doesn't really matter (I just go wherever the state DOTs tell me to), but I have also played with planning hypothetical trips to visit every "something" (e.g. US & Canadian state & provincial capitals). Since I was just "playing", figuring out the optimal order was part of the fun, but I can see how having software do it for you would be helpful. I'm sure software exists somewhere to do this since it's an age-old delivery problem (I have to make 20 deliveries, in what order should I make them), but wondering if anyone had found it for free or low cost.

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