How did anyone get anywhere before the internet? I remember life before the internet and it was filled with watching a lot more TV. Fortunately by the time I was old enough to travel alone Mapquest found me. Those early days were liberating but frustrating. If you didn’t have a navigator you were forced to read the step by step instructions while attempting to navigate traffic.
I no longer use Mapquest, but I do want to highlight the mapping websites I’ve been using over the past year. I’ll go in the order in which I have used them and talk about what I found useful and what I found problematic. Being able to see the map is important in finding attractions and distractions. Once I have a route planned I can go to my favorite site, Roadside America, and look for stops on their maps that coincide with my route.
As I found the initial destination on Roadtrippers, I used it for my first map. This site has some really great features as it’s not solely for mapping. To the right is my very first attempt at The Trip. Roadtrippers is easy to navigate. Adding stops and dragging them to the order you like is simple. For some attractions, such as the Enchanted Highway, you don’t even need to enter an address. Simply type in the attraction and it will add it as a stop. This is handy as some destinations like the above highway have no single, physical address.
Where Roadtripper shines is in recommending stops. It can show you different lodging options along your route even allowing you to limit what it shows to subgroups such as motels, campgrounds, or bed and breakfasts. If you want to find BBQ joints, simply select that option from the Food tab and they will appear as little flags. My personal favorite option is Offbeat Attractions under the Attractions and Culture tab.
While I do plan to use this site to continue tweaking and adding to my Trip, I have moved away from it for two reasons. The first is that it limits the number of stops you can schedule on a trip. While it does allow for a lot, I believe you’re capped at 60. I’m currently running at 70 different destinations and growing. Second, the site can’t seem to locate many of the addresses I put in. I’ve had to use cross streets and nearby addresses to plot a point, which hinders accuracy. For these two reasons I decided to check out other websites.
The second site I used was Rand McNally’s TripMaker. From the below maps, you might be able to figure out the problem I had with this site.
With TripMaker you are extremely limited to the number of stops you can enter per trip. I was forced to create 4 legs to my journey. Much the same as Roadtrippers, it offers a “Things to Do” option that will add flags near your route. At first I was excited at how many diversions the site promised, until I looked at the quality of suggestions. Using the “Quirky and Oddball” search option to find places around my house, the site flagged a local brewery and a local cheeseburger chain. Hardly what I would call quirky or oddball.
The main reason I put so much time and effort into this site was that it picked up almost all of the addresses I put in. Where Roadtrippers would often give me an error message that an address didn’t exist, Rand McNally stepped up to the plate and found all the weird sights I added. Also like Roadtrippers you have the ability to type in the name of an attraction, instead of just the address, and it would add the stop for you.
The latest website I’ve been using is myscenicdrives. So far my experience is positive although it does feel very bare bones when compared to the other websites. It also allows you to search for specific attractions by name but more importantly it has recognized 100% of the addresses I’ve inputted. It does not seem to offer as many recommended attractions and offers no mapping of lodging options. Below is the first mapping of The Trip with myscenicdrives. It has already been changed to remove certain sites and add others. I’ll be updating The Trip map later as it continues to evolve.