Is there a smart road trip planning site that suggests where to stop?
July 29, 2012 7:58 PM   Subscribe

I've read this question looking for a road trip planning website. We have been using Google Maps which will tell you the driving distance between two cities IF you type those cities in. But is there any road-trip planning website or app that you can tell "I am in Seattle and want to drive about 6-7-8 hours east, where is a good place to stop for the night?" Sounds simple, but we're jerking between a road atlas (to show us sizable cities and what fun stops are along the way) and Google Maps to give us the approx driving time and mileage. Yes, road atlases give miles, but it seems there must be an online way that shows us a bunch of choices. Anything out there?
posted by GaelFC to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
I heard of TripShare but have yet to use it. The founders are ex of Apple.
posted by seawallrunner at 8:12 PM on July 29, 2012

Autoclub's online trip planning tool --TripTik -- does this pretty well.

Membership required, however.
posted by notyou at 8:20 PM on July 29, 2012

This tool gives you a mapped range, I'm not sure how good it is for zooming in.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:36 PM on July 29, 2012

A few possibilities - On The Way and the Google Hotel Finder; the latter allows you to sketch an area or route on a map and find nearby places to stay. A previous post of mine on the blue has a few more resources that might help.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 8:43 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

If it helps, I wrote the old question you linked and ended up NOT using TripTik - it seemed like a good choice, but I recall it being super annoying to use. It kept logging me out, and it was weird and difficult and circuitous to log back in. As I recall, I finally ended up using Google Maps for figuring out distance and just plugged things into a spreadsheet.

I like the site that Eyebrows McGee mentions; I was going to link them as well. The "Radius Around Point" might give you what you want. We had a favorite hotel chain, and had the rewards credit card for it, so that made finding a hotel X hours away from a point easier - we just looked for one from that chain reasonably close to our end point.

I hope that the road trip mapping sites have improved in the past 2 years because they sucked back then. Our trip was all organized with spreadsheets and documents; I ended up not having anything organized on a travel website.
posted by booksherpa at 10:47 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can probably get what you want from Google Maps directly by using a few of its features together.

First, when you've gotten a set of directions from your starting point A to any point B, you can click and drag either point to move it within the map and get new directions. Even better, there is a little tooltip that shows you the time/distance of each new route as you're dragging it*. So if you want to know what is about 6-8 hours east of point A, just drag point B along your route(s) and watch to see roughly where the estimated drive time falls in that range. You'll get a pretty good sense of it within just a few seconds.

On top of that, you can have search results visible while you're getting time estimates with the directions. Just search for something first (say, your favorite hotel chain, or maybe even just "hotels") to get your results visible on the map, then get driving directions from point A to point B in the same map. The results should stay visible as little dots, so you can see where along your route they are, and you can easily drag point B to find the time to each of them with minimal hassle.

You can even have multiple sets of search results visible at once, with different color dots. Just keep typing in new searches in the same window. You can manage which are visible at any time, or remove old unneeded ones, by using the map layers control. Hover over the map/satellite button (number 13 here) and you'll see an entry for each of your search results (in number 5 in the same image). Click a check mark to show/hide a set of results, or the x to delete it. You might need to do that to make old search results visible, as I think it hides old results when you do new searches sometimes, but they're still there to be re-enabled.

* That real-time directions updating really blew my mind when they introduced it. Every time you move your mouse, a request is sent to Google's servers and they recalculate directions and timing. Calculating the shortest path between two points is a non-trivial computational problem, and they're just letting you solve it several times a second on their cluster!
posted by whatnotever at 4:42 AM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

notyou: "Autoclub's online trip planning tool --TripTik -- does this pretty well.

Membership required, however.

TripTik is free on AAA's website. It doesn't even require a login unless you want to save results. You do have to give them your ZIP code. I don't know that it does what the OP is asking, though. Delorme had some PC software that worked this way. Its print formatting is far, far better than Google's though, IMO. (unless Google has changed it recently, which is always possible)
posted by wierdo at 8:15 AM on July 30, 2012

Ahhh, so it is.

Good to know, wierdo.

Yeah, TripTik doesn't automatically break the trip down into driveable chunks, but:

1) You can manually add destinations/waypoints that do (derived from GMaps, perhaps);

2) Zooming in on a point on the map reveals AAA's lodging, visitor info, etc, which is half of what the OP is after.
posted by notyou at 10:18 AM on July 30, 2012

I just read about, which on a quick gander might do some of the things you want. I'd be keen for feedback on it if it does!
posted by pymsical at 12:48 PM on July 30, 2012

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