Mapping for road trips for groups
March 30, 2015 6:29 PM   Subscribe

Husband, son and I will all be embarking on an adventure soon across the US. Our dogs will be joining us in their own grand quest to mark everything we see. Assume for this we have no deadline, no end date, no....scary pressure hanging over our head. We have some general ideas of what we want to see, but we need a way to start marking up route possibilities, and sharing them with each other (well, the dogs don't care much - if there are national monuments of dog parks, they have no idea about them). The problem is finding the right tool/app to do this.

We like things like wunderlist, grocery gadget (which has changed our shopping experience) and other apps enabling collaboration. Well, OK, son is kind of ehhhhh, but I think once he gets to add in his ideal spots on the map it may help a little (he has things in mind already). He also will be helped, I think, just seeing the plans laid out.

We are all Apple users, iphone friendly, we all have ipads and son has a Windows laptop (the dogs? They have no computers. Or maybe I'M A DOG OMG). I'm technically adept, as are husb and son. Son just has less patience with it all. So simple and stable are good.

How is there not already a "Road Trip" app, where people can pick things they want to see separately, and get route recommendations and maps based on that? Is there? Tell me about it! Bonus points if it will throw in things like, "This is on your route and it's weird/interesting/wonderful, should we add it in?" Although I may be dreaming with that one.

If there is not one already - what do you all use for things like this? Google's custom shareable maps don't seem to work anymore (we couldn't find a way to make one, though husb and I have both in the past) and they lack the simplicity that would appeal to son anyway. His super power is a very short attention span (to be honest I have that too - have I mentioned the dogs?). A web based app would work, as would an ios app. But if you have other recommendations, we want to hear them.

Obligatory dog photos are here and here.
posted by routergirl to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The app was a pretty great tool for finding random hiking trails and campsites in national and state forests, BLM land, etc when we drove across the country a few years back with the doggy. Something just to be aware of...dogs are basically not allowed out of the parking lots in most National Parks, so don't expect to spend much time in them, especially in the summer.
posted by rockindata at 6:44 PM on March 30, 2015

This Dog Park Finder app was super helpful for finding places for the dog to run around once we got out of the west.
posted by rockindata at 6:48 PM on March 30, 2015

Response by poster: The dog park stuff is great - but just to clarify - we need to map the people centric places! Dog parks would be an excellent point to add to the route, but the main goal is to track what all of us humans hope to see. For example - son has a friend in Maryland. Husb has some work in Florida and maybe New Orleans. We have family in Arizona, friends in Virginia, and family in Idaho. The only monument on the list so far for sure is the Grand Canyon, as we've been near but never stopped.
posted by routergirl at 6:52 PM on March 30, 2015

We did a western trip last fall, and I liked AAA's interactive route function. Just used PC & iPad, maybe iPhone, but I only rec the PC. Good driving time info as well as mileage, plus all kinds of roadside stuff.
posted by LonnieK at 6:59 PM on March 30, 2015

Best answer: Try Roadtrippers

They have a great web site, iOS app and good mobile web support.
posted by sd at 7:03 PM on March 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, custom google maps are still available. On the web at least. In the new google maps interface, click on the search field and wait for a bit... you should see a "my maps" item.
posted by sd at 7:08 PM on March 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

My husband, daughter and I use shared custom Google maps to plan our vacations. It's usually just for one city, but it would work for the whole country. We use an app called New My Maps to view our custom Google maps on iPhone and iPad.

For locating cool stuff along your route, check out Roadside America.
posted by Joleta at 7:16 PM on March 30, 2015

Came in to recommend Roadtrippers. My Wife and I used it extensively last year on our own cross-country, somewhat open-ended trip, and found it very useful for both route planning and finding interesting items along the way.
posted by namewithoutwords at 7:21 PM on March 30, 2015

I liked roadtrippers when I used it during my drive from Maine to Texas. I thought some of its functionality was a little clumsy because I had a hard time getting sufficient information. It felt like I could deal with information overload (it is packed with options of all sorts) or have just a few meager options.

It was also excellent in the pretrip phase but we didn't want to lock ourselves in until we got on the road.

By the end of the trip I was getting a better hang of filtering, so maybe you could practice with it locally before the trip.
posted by lownote at 7:28 PM on March 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

You mention Florida and dog parks. By far the largest and most interesting dog park I have ever been to is in Gainesville, FL: Dogwood Park. It has a couple swimming ponds, agility area, and acres of trees for the pups to run to their heart's content.

Do note it costs money to visit. Also, you can see on the visitor's info page that you need to bring proof of rabies vaccination and children under 10 are not allowed for their own safety.

That said, if there were a national monument of dog parks, this one would certainly be in the running.
posted by zyxwvut at 7:58 PM on March 30, 2015

If you are going to spend much time in national parks you may want to leave your dogs with friends or a sitter. I took my dog on a trip to Yellowstone and we couldn't go see anything without leaving him in the car with the air conditioning running. It was awful.
posted by BoscosMom at 8:26 PM on March 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hate to sound like an old fogey but don't rule out a road atlas of paper maps as an adjunct to whatever technological solutions you come up with.
posted by DanSachs at 3:29 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Came in to recommend Road Trip USA -- the website, the book, and the companion (regional) books.

This is something that Google Maps and the likes can't do. Get yourself a US road atlas... or maybe even a few of them, and start highlighting routes in different colors.
posted by tckma at 6:44 AM on March 31, 2015

Response by poster: Roadtrippers looks nearly perfect - I feel like an idiot for not finding it myself! lownote, you're right on the filtering. We're playing with it now. To clarify, this is not just a trip, it's a migration back to California for longterm, so this will be our home until we get there and settle. I'm already thinking about all the more meaty questions to post next.

The big gripe (the only real gripe we see), is that you can share a trip, and the person viewing can then edit it (remove/add waypoints), but it doesn't propagate back to the person who shared. So we're trying to figure out how that would work. Anyone know if that's possible? We can share an account, if not. I've poked all around and I believe it's impossible, but hey, I've been wrong before.

Paper maps - not an old fogey thing, is it? Cos if so, I am an old fogey. We've got some paper options to bring along already. I picked up a copy of The Next Exit, which I used when I drove from San Diego to Toronto some years ago. I think we'll get even more use out of this trip, what with the meandering and freedom to roam.
posted by routergirl at 6:45 PM on March 31, 2015

Response by poster: ...and nevermind on the collaboration question. "Proper trip collaboration features are coming soon."
posted by routergirl at 6:56 PM on March 31, 2015

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