Jump to content
American Road Magazine
Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!
Jennifer

Microsoft Streets & Trips

Recommended Posts

Pat and I do a combination of traditional vs. high-tech trip planning...and I throw in a bit of old map fun into the mix as well.

 

Pat uses his traditional, trusty Rand McNally Atlas when planning a trip (which I do as well). I then kick in to the high-tech department by putting his route into Microsoft Streets & Trips to have some more fun and get some more information:

 

- Get an estimate of travel time (but usually only if it's a trip where we need to have a specific arrival time frame)

-Print street level maps, and using historic highway books/guides/maps, trace out various alignments

-Find motels and eateries in areas along the way, or where we're planning tp stay. I usually try to look out for names which indicate to me that it's not a chain (Restwell Motel, Joe's Diner, etc...). However, unless we have a place in mind we like or heard about specifically, we don't usually plan on a specific place. We like to look for places as we drive to keep it adventurous and "end up wherever we end up." But it helps sometimes to have a general idea of areas which have facilities so we don't get stuck really far away from somewhere with no suitable possibilities (which happened on our last trip!)

-If I plan a trip using the software to create a route, I change the program settings to "Dislike" Interstate highways and toll roads, and to "Like" other routes (again unless, for some reason it is a non-leisurely trip where I need to quickly get from point A to point B, which isn't too often).

-Sometimes, the software creates a wacky route which goes in odd directions, so I have to manually add stops to get the software to follow a more appropriate, relatively linear route

 

On our last trip two weeks ago, I rented a laptop so I could have access and back up all my photos. I also decided to load Streets & Trips on it, and there were a few times it was valuable to have with us. While we had a little time to meander on our way to Connecticut, we needed to get thereby a specific time. As our time slipped away from us, I used Streets & trips to calculate our ETA based on where we were and the route we were going to take. For a while, I tracked Pat's progress against the software and we were following it down to the minute. It was funny, Streets & Trips calculated us arriving at my grandmother's house at 9:41 PM, and we just turned down the road toward her house at 9:41...as we turned onto her street, the clock flipped over to 9:42 PM! LOL Ok, we were so close! I still think Pat should get a prize.

 

On the way home from Connecticut, we used it again. We were taking U.S. 6 through Pennsylvania and at one point, we decided to start angling down a bit, and we took U.S. 62. Well, there were cute mom n' pop motels in abundance on U.S. 6. U.S. 62 in that area was fairly devoid of anything, and it was getting somewhat late, and dark and we were tired! I used S & T to find a few area motels, but they're just straight listings, not recommendations, and we found one wasn't too suitable. The other had no vacancy. So we forged on and had to give in to a Super 8, because we weren't sure if we'd not find anything else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm currently using DeLorme Street Atlas but have used Streets & Trips in the past. These two seem to be the leading computer mapping/routing products and I believe they offer similar capabilities. Several years ago I looked at these plus AAA & National Geographic branded offerings and settled on DeLorme. The primary reason, as I recall, was DeLorme's facility (called vias) for forcing a route through a specific location. I believe that S&T is now much improved in this department but haven't personally looked at it for about five years. I've just recently installed SA2006 and am slowly getting familiar with it. I know it's a wonderful thing but there's a lot of new tricks for this old dog to learn. (I haven't uninstalled SA9, yet:-)

 

I usually have a printed atlas in the car but seldom open it and can't remember the last time I used a modern printed map for planning. Old maps, both printed and online, are a different story. When a trip involves retracing an old route or trip, old maps are key. Of course, finding current equivalents of old roads and then getting a route to use them can be a fairly challenging "computer game". Fortunately for me, it doesn't require Halo 3 level reflexes.

 

I do use printed history and guide books. Not for every trip but if a trip is at least a little bit in the future I'll spend some time reading anything related that comes to hand. Sometimes books are readily available for a specific road (e.g., Route 66, Lincoln Highway) or area, and there are bunches of "Ten best trips in/from/near..." publications. Some books (e.g, Horatio's Drive, Blue Highways) will just get you in the mood for a road trip and that's a form of preparation, too.

 

The information highway certainly provides a lot of input. This forum and other e-groups can provide information and are clearly the place to go with specific questions. Sometimes just putting a town's name into a search engine will turn up something like a museum or historic site I didn't know about. If I'm concerned about finding lodging in real-time, I'll look for, and sometimes book, motels online. But, if I only make one online visit for a trip, it will almost be certainly at RoadsideAmerica. What a great website and you can now enter a city and get a map with attractions marked.

 

Now, actually following a route is another story.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Old maps, both printed and online, are a different story. When a trip involves retracing an old route or trip, old maps are key. Of course, finding current equivalents of old roads and then getting a route to use them can be a fairly challenging "computer game".

 

I forgot in my long-winded post, to mention that we do that too...we will take an old map and try to follow it. If not literally as we're driving, at least beforehand we will compare it to a new map or computer program like Streets & Trips. Talk about map geek fun! :D

 

I like Streets & Trips, though I am not averse to trying something new someday. S & T has improved since I started using it in 2002. I've had versions 2002, 2004 and now 2005...I didn't bother getting 2006, since I don't feel it's necessary to upgrade every year, but every couple of years instead.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also use a combination of low and high-tech when I plan my roadtrips. In a lot of ways my overall planning is pretty easy since my "thing" is to drive US highways from end-to-end, and often the most interesting things are places I just happen to stumble upon as I'm driving down the road. I have two children ages 2 and 5, so I tend to do a lot of up-front planning to ensure we're not riding around at 9:00 at night searching for a place to stay. I use the AASHTO US Numbered Routes Log and old-fashioned AAA paper maps to estimate about 200 miles per day, and use the internet to pre-book hotel rooms along the way. I also use a combination of books, old maps, and the internet to try to find stops that seem interesting along the way.

 

While on the trip, I use a Garmin iQ3600 GPS unit. It has a pretty steep learning curve, but since I've figured out how to use it I've been pretty happy with it. It's really a combination PDA and GPS, so it is very portable, and easy to set up each time I get a different rental car. It allows me to save waypoints, which I can then use as destinations (or vias) along the trip. I typically save as waypoints things like the beginning & end of the road, our hotels, and any key restaurants or sights I want to see along the way, then finding these things while I'm on the trip becomes really easy. It's also easy to add new waypoints while I'm travelling if someone along the way suggests an interesting stop. Along most of the journey the GPS is not really necessary since I'm only following one road, but it does make it easier at the end of the day to quickly find the hotel and any attractions I wanted to see.

 

Coming up in a few weeks will be my journey on US 36 from Ohio to Colorado. If anyone has any suggestions for interesting, quick things to see along the route, please let me know. Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Coming up in a few weeks will be my journey on US 36 from Ohio to Colorado. If anyone has any suggestions for interesting, quick things to see along the route, please let me know. Thanks.

 

 

As you make your way through Indiana on U.S. 36, there is a suburb west of Indianapolis called Danville. In the center of town, located right across from the courthouse, is a neat restaurant called the Mayberry Cafe. At most times, it should be easy to find, since you will see the 1962 Ford Galaxie out front, which is a replica of Sheriff Andy Taylor's squad car from the Andy Griffith Show. As you may have guessed, the Mayberry Cafe has an "Andy Griffith Show" theme. The food is very good, down home country cookin' and the service is excellent.

 

For further information, I'll direct you to the current issue of American Road magazine (Summer 2006), where the Mayberry Cafe is featured in the Diner Days column. This particular installment was written by yours truly and my husband Pat (otherwise known as your humble American Road Forum hosts). :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First off let me note that you're making a trip that's on my list, too. US-36 is one of the few US routes with an endpoint in Ohio and one of only two that pass through the county where I was born (Darke). Last year it looked like my son might be stationed in Colorado and I started planning a full length Thirty-Six run with visiting him as the justification. He ended up elsewhere and the trip got shelved. Someday.

 

I'm a GPS fan, too. I've have used GPS in conjunction with a laptop and admit that it's probably the best way to stay on a route you've defined. But that approach is bulky and almost requires an operator/navigator. My old "buddy" is a Garmin GPS III that does no routing but with which I've become rather comfortable over the years. I've just recently upgraded to a Garmin Quest which did require some retraining but which seems a perfect unit for me. I guess it wasn't actually retraining since the stuff I had/have to learn is stuff that the old unit didn't do. It even accepts routes directly from DeLorme SA2006 but I guess the maps don't line up precisely so it sometimes gives funny directions and it really wants to calculate the route itself. Although I've learned the basics of operating it, I'm still working out how to best use it to feedback routes of my choosing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tell me this,Jennifer, Pat and Denny. Do you find that most mapping software and online mapping are unreliable at best, terrible at their worst? I've searched for local streets (where I don't have to travel to find it) and they get returned as nowhere near where they actually were. And if there are construction changes, even online updates aren't addressed at mapquest.com or mapsonus.com. I find it's a huge guessing game most of the time. Please restore my faith in the whole idea of high tech mapping....pretty please...lol. :P Matt Smallwood

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tell me this,Jennifer, Pat and Denny. Do you find that most mapping software and online mapping are unreliable at best, terrible at their worst? I've searched for local streets (where I don't have to travel to find it) and they get returned as nowhere near where they actually were. And if there are construction changes, even online updates aren't addressed at mapquest.com or mapsonus.com. I find it's a huge guessing game most of the time. Please restore my faith in the whole idea of high tech mapping....pretty please...lol. :P Matt Smallwood

 

Matt,

 

I am most used to Microsoft Streets & Trips, though I have used Mapquest, Yahoo Maps and Google Maps....I don't prefer the online maps.

 

For the most part, I have done OK with Streets & Trips....it isn't perfect by any means, but it's pretty good. I have found the majority of streets I'm looking for and construction updates are reasonable (you can update construction data through the program at any time).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks so much, Jennifer. I will definitely make a purchase of the Microsoft Streets and Trips before my next trip.

 

Matt Smallwood

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks so much, Jennifer. I will definitely make a purchase of the Microsoft Streets and Trips before my next trip.

 

Matt Smallwood

 

 

Great! Feel free to post any questions you have here and I'll be happy to help...I'm such a geek about that program!! LOL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Matt: While I have my issues with electronic maps, gross inaccuracy isn't one of them. I've encountered some errors but I'm actually rather impressed by how much they (Mapquest & DeLorme SA for me) get right. I can get incredibly frustrated at how they want me to get from A to B but they usually have A and B in the right places with the right roads between them. Maybe I'm not looking close enough.

 

Jennifer: Do you mean that S&T includes automated access to current construction information that it uses in maps and routing? That's something that SA doesn't have.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Matt: While I have my issues with electronic maps, gross inaccuracy isn't one of them. I've encountered some errors but I'm actually rather impressed by how much they (Mapquest & DeLorme SA for me) get right. I can get incredibly frustrated at how they want me to get from A to B but they usually have A and B in the right places with the right roads between them. Maybe I'm not looking close enough.

 

Jennifer: Do you mean that S&T includes automated access to current construction information that it uses in maps and routing? That's something that SA doesn't have.

 

 

The way I deal with S & T routing me in odd places is to manually "add a stop" in between my start and stop points, in the direction I want to go. That helps to bring the route "back on track", so to speak. As I mentioned earlier, if I want to avoid the Interstate, I can change a setting to keep me off them.

 

As far as automated construction info...yes, when you create a route in an area that has construction, the program tells you that, and prompts you to download the most current information. You can also manually update the construction info at any time either through the program, or by downloading it at the Microsoft website. Microsoft Streets & Trips Construction Information The construction informatioin is updated once a month.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SA has stops & vias and I've always managed to eventually get the route to go where I want but it sometimes takes some effort. Trouble spots are things like a road that has been "streamlined". Several vias may be required to stay on the old alignment.

 

That construction data seems pretty cool. Apparently there's no subscription required as they let me download the update. Of course it's of no use to me but I got it. I'm not ready to switch just yet (there's a lot in DeLorme that I like) but I'm always looking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am a Streets and Trips fan, use it a lot for work and leisure travel.

 

Since I travel to small and big towns, doing library workshops, I need it to find libraries in somewhere's-ville, some-state-out-there-somewhere.

 

I've got the new 2006 version with the little GPS finder, but haven't gotten around to using it yet. Any tips from anyone on that?

 

Yahoo! :rolleyes:

My hubby and I are off to OKC this weekend, since I have workshops at the Metropolitan Library there on Monday. We'll visit Beverly's Pancake House and a few other vintage favorites along old US 66 on the northwest side of town.

 

Safe travels, Valli B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use Streets & Trips almost exclusively. But I back it up with ALA and AAA guide books. For AAA guidebooks I have in my collection Vol. 1, Northeast (Those are easy to find) 1941 editon and Vol II, Western, also 1941 edition.

It took me forever to locate a Southeastern AAA tour book - but found a lot of 4 different regional areas on ebay, Southeastern 1939 edition.

The rest of my tour guide books include a 1923 Automobile Blue book, Vol. 2, Middle Atlantic and Southeast, ALA Green Books - Vol. 1, 1921 New England States; Vol 1, 1927-1928 New England States, Canada and Trunk Lines West and South; 1932 Road Reference and Tourists Guide All States East of the Mississippi River; and 1933 (same as 1932). The 1927-28, 1932 and 1933 books have a listing for Canadian, State and U S Highways of the time.

I also have an Official Touring Guide for Ohio-Indiana-Michigan and the Main Traveled Routes of the Northeaster States and Provinces of Ontario and Quebec published by the Toledo Automobile Club AAA. No date on it, but looking thru it there aren't any route numbers - just the usual directions listed mile by mile, so I'd put it pre-1926. I have a 1930 Motor Trips guide book issued by the Guyde Publishing Company in Hartford, CT, and two other AAA Northeastern Tour books - one issued by the Automobile Club of New York in 1936 and one issued out of Washington by AAA in 1937 (that's as old as I am!!!!)

While the pre-1926 guide books are pretty much useless for planning any sort of road trip - I mean, lets face it; the big oak tree you turn left at has been replaced by a condo and the big red barn you turn right at burned down years ago!!! the 1927 up books, particularly the 1930's and 1941 books are very useful in finding the old routes when used in conjuction with mapping programs such as Streets and Trips - I've also used Delormes, but prefer S&T.

Everybody have a great day and safe travels.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With all of its fans, it seems like I might want to give Streets & Trips another look.

 

Can anyone tell me if S&T supports the exporting of routes to other programs or GPS devices?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×