Road trip planning tools
February 28, 2022 7:39 AM   Subscribe

Planning on taking a long road trip through Canada this summer. I'm thinking about 7-10 days total. What are some tools that I can use to plan the trip?

There are a couple of cities I want to hit along the way, so I have a general route planned.

What I'd like is to find some interesting activities along the way for the wife and kids.

I'd also like to plan the drives so that they are not too lengthy.

Finally sharing with my wife and having the itinerary available on the phone would be helpful.

In addition to google maps, I've also found:


If you have any feedback on these tools or any additional one I can check out that'd be helpful. Finally, if you've got any "life hacks" feel free to drop 'em in here as well.
posted by aeighty to Travel & Transportation around Canada (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I’ve taken 3 cross-country road trips, and here are some of my best tips:

Keep sticky notes and a pen in the car. and put notes on the glove box about which exit to take or what snacks to buy at the next stop, etc

Get a solar charger hub for laptops and tablets so you can charge things while you drive

Have a consistent place for chargers that shows you if one is missing, as they are very easy to lose and annoying to replace. Keeping a charger in the same place every time helps prevent losing it. If you have some kind of bag or case with a mesh pocket that can be a good spot.

As you pack to leave a hotel, dump used towels and sheets into the bathtub to get them out of the way and ensure nothing is being hidden under a sheet.

Before you leave a hotel, do a final room check by removing all your personal items to the hallway and then doing one last walk through the empty room.

Don’t overpack snacks, the novelty is part of the fun. A granola bar you already saw this morning isn’t that exciting... way more fun to stop and choose something when the mood strikes you. Do pack fruit though, and eat fruit for every second snack.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 7:46 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]

Roadtrippers map planning feature helps a lot with breaking down hours between destinations as always as interesting things along the way.
posted by anotheraccount at 8:20 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]

I always enjoy checking out Atlas Obscura to see if there's anything interesting on the way.
posted by adamrice at 8:26 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]

I'm working on a similar project right now, and I've been using this combination:

- Google My Maps to visualize the complete trip, and to get a shareable link for non-Google users
- Google Maps for actually looking stuff up, because My Maps has limitations / is a bit clunky in some ways
- A spreadsheet that details each day's activities, estimated driving time on that day, and where we'll stay the night

I plan to use the Apple Maps app for the drive itself, because I think the voiceover directions are better than those in the Google Maps app; but I find it easier to create a custom map in Google My Maps than in Apple Maps.

Some tips if you do start using My Maps:

- If you want to see directions between Point A and Point B (rather than just pinning the two points on the map), you have to click the little grey arrow button under the search bar at the top of the page
- There's a limit on the number of directions you can add to a single layer (I believe it's 11), so you might have to use multiple layers
- There's a limit on the number of layers you can add to the map (I believe it's also 11)
posted by neushoorn at 8:58 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]

My Scenic Drives might be good - I haven't tried it myself. It looks US focused but the FAQ says it will work anywhere that Google directions are available.
posted by soelo at 1:44 PM on February 28

Here are sites I've bookmarked over the years while planning road trips, in no particular order. I've tried many and only save bookmarks for the that were useful.

  - Weather Underground trip weather for checking the weather forecast for your destinations
  - AAA's Trip Tik
  - Highway and Interstate guide
  - Find a Scenic Drive
  - Rand McNally's TripMaker
  - Roadside America
  - RoadTrip America
  - RoadTrippers
posted by davcoo at 3:21 PM on February 28

At the risk of sounding like a Luddite, I find that a paper map works much better in the planning stages of a trip like this. Electronic maps are great for the actual driving and the details, but for seeing the overall route and dividing up the driving days paper is still king.
posted by doctord at 6:11 PM on February 28

If you are into hiking, AllTrails is a great app. You can mark and plan hikes, and to navigate to a hike it works with whatever maps app you use (at least Google and Apple). The reviews of the hikes are pretty accurate, I've found.

If you are coming from another country, will you have data service for your phone? Do you plan on picking up a burner?
posted by Snowishberlin at 10:20 AM on March 1

I've used Wanderlog for the last couple of trips. I went to fairly popular places and its social/recommendation tool did not have any local results. As an organizational tool on my computer it was quite good - I threw a bunch of destinations on it, and then moved things around to specific days by looking at the map. Good for mapping efficient routes. As a day-of navigation tool on my phone it was nothing special; I think the integration to Google maps is just exporting a list of destinations.
posted by acidic at 8:24 PM on March 2

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