How to easily update an online map when abroad?
July 17, 2008 2:53 AM   Subscribe

[TravelFilter] What would be an easy and cheap way to get a map update of my brother whereabouts for his year-long asian trip?

(this is a follow-up to this thread)

My brother is going to be one the road for more than a year, backpacking with no personal computer, and getting Internet access as he can find it (caf├ęs, hotels, etc.). We're planning on building a blog for him to write about his trip to us, but knowing where exactly he is could be a cool addition to the site.

I don't quite know how to tackle this. Here are my ideas so far:
- He sends the name of his current city by e-mail, and we update the (static) map by hand. But that's laborious.
- We code a gmaps/y!maps/whatever hack where he could just send in his current city to a form, and the map updates itself based on that new information. But that requires coding, obviously. (would be cool is this existed as an online service).
- We make him carry around some sort of GPS-updater that automatically send data to a server, which produces the map - as I've seen some hobby runners do here and there. But that's expensive as heck.

Do you have any idea or suggestions about handling that kind of data easily, cheaply, and from afar?

Thanks a lot.
posted by XiBe to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Well, found this previous thread in the Related Questions section, which seems to have quite a few answers (like Flagr's e-mail method.). But that thread being from 2006, I'm interested in anything newer that might have appeared since then, and in general, advices on the best way to do it.
posted by XiBe at 2:56 AM on July 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

When I had the same question as you, I used this site.
posted by mjg123 at 5:41 AM on July 17, 2008

For the last option, if you have a mobile phone with built-in GPS, it can be done easily and automatically, take a look at the two sites listed below. As you say though, it would be expensive, you would have to pay for the international data. Maybe if you can get an unlimited fixed fee plan it might be worthwhile?

InstaMapper - Free Real-Time GPS Tracking

TrackMyJourney - TMJ-Mobile

Not realtime, but if you do have a GPS-enabled phone, you could use software like bbtracker to track your journey. When he does get to internet access (which should be too difficult, everywhere I've been, no matter how obscure and remote has had an internet cafe), he can copy the track off with a USB cable (or whatever cable your phone uses), and email it to you. Then you can format and upload to one of these sites, or Google Maps, or whatever.

Just to point out though, that using this on a phone does kill the battery, my blackberry lasts 5-7 days usually, just about 1 when using the software

Alternatively, I bought a DG-100 data logger recently. It tracks continuously, uses AA batteries, recharges and communicates by USB (or bring a charger/buy batteries). Again he can copy the tracks off (does require software), and send them to you.
posted by Boobus Tuber at 5:41 AM on July 17, 2008 does something like that, although he'd have to update it manually. But it can show maps of where he is/has been, and he can add text and pictures as well. (I haven't used it myself, just aware of it.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:07 AM on July 17, 2008 Also manual but is a social trip networking site.
posted by wingless_angel at 7:19 AM on July 17, 2008

Spot. It's a bit pricey ($169) but it looks pretty slick. Here's a sample of what it outputs on a couple of guys cycling across Canada who I've been following.
posted by perpetualstroll at 8:08 AM on July 17, 2008

Travelpod also does something like this, but again, updated manually.
posted by jerryg99 at 8:56 AM on July 17, 2008

Google Maps is free, but it does require manual updates.
posted by Deflagro at 9:20 AM on July 17, 2008

bryan boyer's indyjunior works just fine, but like google maps, it requires manual updates.
posted by lia at 9:13 PM on July 17, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks a lot for all your suggestions, they help me focus our work.
posted by XiBe at 6:00 AM on July 21, 2008

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