Trip planning mapping software to capture checkpoints & notes, and to save the plans w/ info

I am planning two trips for next year. One is a combination of flights, drives, and boat rides, and the other is a long road trip (5,000+ miles) with some hikes along the way.

What is good mapping software that will let me create and save the trip plans, select checkpoints along the way (stopping points / hotels / sites / airports, etc), give me a routing between those checkpoints, and allow me to enter and later view location-based notes for those checkpoints — e.g., in the town cemetery of Rotan TX is the gravesite of NFL Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh, and I want to write specific notes to read when I get there.

I want to save and then select each trip as I work on its plan. Before the trip I want to show my travelers (wife, family) the entire route as a presentation of the plan. Once underway I want to show the trip to them, showing them here’s where we’ve been so far, here’s where we currently are, and here’s where we’re going — for either the current day’s plan or for the overall trip.

Ideally the SW runs on iPad / iPhone and can work offline on locally pre-loaded data that uses the iDevice’s GPS to locate me. Not as ideal is SW that runs on my Windows laptop, but I’m hoping I don’t have to lug that around with me. Ideally the SW does not require a live connection to the web, or at least I can upload and download wherever I have connectivity and then operate locally on my device when I travel without connectivity.

I don’t need GPS or route optimization. I’ll use Waze for that, or other offline maps like gMaps.

Ideally this SW is free, but I’m willing to buy the app if it is excellent (but free is better, won’t you agree?). But often, you get what you pay for.

Where are the SDMB map fans?

Once upon a time Microsoft’s “Streets & Trips” software did much of this. One could plan a route in advance, including waypoints and stops. The stops could include time on site (hours, minutes, overnight) so lunch stops and points of interest could be included in the route, and the route’s timing. One could plan out a theoretical “day” based upon the driving time on the route, plus time at stops, and decide at what point one wished to end the “day” with an overnight. Then continue the following “day” from wherever the previous one ended. Maps could be displayed or printed, both overall for the trip, or “strip maps” to go along with turn by turn directions. Included was a GPS tracker/direction giver (required a separate USB - GPS dongle) that ran live turn by turn. It required a laptop because it wasn’t an “ap”. There were other bells and whistles like a database of “Places” (fuel, food, accommodations, museums, parks, etc. etc) that made it a very, very useful program. Unfortunately, Microsoft discontinued it in (I think) 2014. (My last version is 2013.)

I still use my old copy for planning long trips. Of course, the maps become less and less accurate since they’re not being updated with road changes. And the “Places” are also getting dated. But major highways haven’t changed much since 2014 and many Places (parks etc.) are still the same, although restaurants and gas stations may have changed names. But if I want a special place that doesn’t show up - perhaps a restaurant in a distant city I really want to try - I can just enter it as a waypoint/stop using the address, even if it doesn’t show up in Places. Same for things like Aunt Emily’s house, just plug in the address and how long you intend to visit and it becomes part of the route.

I have searched and searched for a modern replacement, without success. Google Maps allows some of these features, but not all (like timing of route stops) and it has limits on the total number of waypoints in a given route. Plus it makes printing a laborious work-around chore. Other route planning software I’ve tried (and I tried a bunch) also has limitations so significant that I keep on using my old 2013 S&Ts.

So I join the OP in asking for suggestions for a better, fully featured, modern platform, route planning software. Otherwise, Bullitt, I bet you can find a copy of Streets and Trips for pennies. I think it will do most everything you want, except reside on a modern device.

The only one I know about off the top of my head is BaseCamp from Garmin. I’ve never really used it myself, but I believe it’s free, you can put waypoints in it, and create routes.

I don’t really know if you can include notes or not as I’ve never used it for that. It’s available for MAC and PC, not sure about iPad though. I do know that once you download it I’m pretty sure it doesn’t need a net connection to do anything.

Can’t really help you with much else since I haven’t done that kind of routing in years. I usually just use Google Maps to plan and then use a GPS to get me there.

Thanks, Edward, I’ll look into BaseCamp.

Your last sentence, you use Google Maps to plan - does it allow you to insert ‘stop times’ at waypoints? When I plan a trip, I decide that I want to start at, say, 9am (after breakfast). And I wish to be done in the evening by, oh, 6pm so I can check into the next hotel and take a shower. I’m starting at A and eventually, several days from now, expect to finish at Z. So when I leave A I want to go to B and spend 15 minutes at the overlook. Then on to C, where I’ll take 1 hour to walk a trail. On to D, a restaurant I’ve heard about, where I’ll allow an hour for lunch. As I add each point, the software allows me to enter the time at that stop. Then it calculates a route and drive time. I keep on building my first day’s route until I reach G at 4:30pm, where I’ll spend 30 minutes. Next is H, but it is about 3 driving hours away, so I then look ahead for a city/place about an hour farther along toward H and select a hotel there. I’ll arrive at the hotel, call it G^, at about 6pm just as I planned. In the morning I’ll leave the hotel at 9am, headed for H…

This is how I build trips in Streets & Trips. If there is an equivalent functionality in Google Maps or elsewhere, I would love to be instructed in the technique because I can’t find it.

Oh, and as a practical matter, I no longer use the GPS navigator in S&Ts. I just plan the route. It’s trivial to enter the next destination into my car’s navigator by voice command or into my iPad and let it give me voice directions from current_place to next_stop.

I don’t think that Google maps has the feature of being able to stop at a certain time or not. I’ve never really used it that way. I tend to see where I’d like to go, see how long it will take to make the entire trip, then start splitting it up in my head and adding points along the way. I’m usually pretty good about knowing how far I can go in a day or a few hours so knowing exact times to stop was never a big thing for me.

I still like using my GPS, I have one that can accept European maps as well as the US ones. I tried using my tablet once to find my way and got lost in Dominican Republic.

Google allows you to share your location, so if you’re concerned about your safety this might be something useful to have available for people whom you trust.

Thanks for the replies. It is almost baffling that there is not a good solution for this. Maybe the market just isn’t big enough for a company to create this product. CannyDan, I did use Microsoft Streets and Trips a few years back, and it was very good. I used it much like you did.

I might just have to build the functions in Excel, and I did that once, years ago, where my inputs were next city, milesge to there, time of departure, planned avg speed, and planned time there on each row and it’d calculate time of arrival, time of next departure, and I could enter basic notes. I might still have that trip olanning XLSX file somewhere. But it does nothave the aesthetic beauty of looking at a map. I’d couple that to Google maps for that.

We have several other map fans here. Hopefully they’ll know something.

Edward, I’ve taken plenty of ‘improvisational trips’ where I had a mental picture of the overall scheme, and just winged each day. That’s certainly a lot of fun. But occasionally I need a bit more precision. For instance, a couple of years ago I planned a 10 day trip up and down the east coast in which I visited more than two dozen nature centers for networking. I needed to visit as many as I could, and I needed to make appointments to meet the Director or equivalent person at each, so just a “sometime Thursday or Friday” wasn’t good enough. Streets & Trips let me plan the entire trip weeks in advance then make the necessary appointments. Oh, I’m not saying nothing fouled up the itinerary; traffic and other things interfered with a “perfectly executed according to plan” trip. But at worst it was just that day thrown off. As long as I eventually got to the planned hotel that night, the next day was always started on the original schedule.

I too don’t understand the lack of a modern equivalent of this functionality. It seems that lots of people (not just ‘traveling salesmen’) still need to plan an efficient route visiting numerous destinations over several days. Heck, even a family vacation hitting a bunch of points of interest would be a lot less stressful (“But Mom, you said we would have time at Butterfly World today! We spent too long at Trucks-R-Us because Billy picked it! Waaahhhh!!”) if driving times and length of stops were planned in advance.

Not having a simple app for this astounds me! Especially since S&Ts already exists and surely some savvy programmer could do the conversion. Or someone will weigh in here with the obvious answer we’ve overlooked.

Otherwise I guess I’ll keep on using my old Streets & Trips!

I used to use Streets & Trips as well. I used to do multi-week motorcycle trips and it was the best tool for planning the route and the very important gas stops (when you have a range of 120’ish miles, you pay close attention). I wish there were a modern tool with updated maps.

Maybe this?

Perhaps. The interface on an iPad seems a bit clunky, at first anyway. I’ll keep playing with it, thanks for that.

Okay folks, pile on and laugh at me. 'Cause I’m OLD.
But I know an “app” that works fine:
It’s called “a piece of paper”.And it works well with either a pen, or a pencil, or both!!! Amazing!!! hard is it to use google maps for the drive time between Butterfly World and Trucks-R-Us?
Let’s say it’s 2 hours.
Now, write down on the paper–using either the pen or the pencil application( Amazing!!!) : 9:00 am to 11 :00 .
Now, write down on the paper,(amazing, again!!!) “time till Billy gets bored”: 11:00 to 11:30
Now, write down on the paper (amazing!you can vary the font this time, use capitals !!!)“time for Tommy to go pee” 11:30 to 11:45
Now, google the drive time from Trucks R Us to your next destination, lets say 3 hours. Write down (amazing, again!!) 11:45 to 2:45
and pretty soon, you’ll reach 8 pm. and you can write “go to sleep.”.
Then use the special application that allows you to conserve memory: turn the page over, and write on the other side.(Amazing!!!)
You can list the next day’s schedule, one line at a time.
This idea has not yet been fully beta-tested. There are some versions of paper which may not be compatible with all pens.
But it seems like it might work :slight_smile:

chapachula, I’m old too and I got a kick out of that! And I too recall the days of paper maps we got at the gas stations or state welcome stations. Or, if we were flush, we bought a Road Atlas of the Contiguous States. Supplemented with a spiral bound notebook, this was how we planned and executed our trips.

I added paper “campground guides” when they became available. But man was I thrilled when the first, admittedly primitive, computer versions came out! Trips, even improvisational trips, became so much easier. Then along came Streets & Trips and the ultimate had been achieved.

That’s why I’m so disappointed - and so surprised - that we’re actually going backwards. None of the newer apps have even a fraction of the functionality of S&Ts. Microsoft doesn’t want it but there’s surely a market opportunity there. Just convert old S&Ts to an app, update the maps, and Bob’s your uncle! I’ll buy it right now! Or somebody figure out how to update the map in existing S&Ts and I’ll buy that. (Frankly, I write so little these days with actual paper and pencil that I’m not sure if I could scrawl out a trip plan if I had to. )

I spent about 10 minutes on their Web site designing a basic day trip, and I found the customization pretty good and intuitive (don’t like the route? Just drag it to an area you want to include).

I’m not seeing an obvious way to “print” (other than vanilla browser print), but I reckon if you use the app (the Web and app sync), you just follow the app’s directions real time.

Not exactly the same, but apparently free and pretty easy.

I’ve never found anything that does exactly that (or exactly what I want it to do, which is kind of close)
You can create a custom google map (I think it’s where you can put in the routes you want to travel, the checkpoints you want to stop at, the places that you want to stay, notes you want to make for all of these things) and share that. You could do a lot of things you’re asking for:

  • custom routes
  • day by day views
  • sharing
    but I think it’s only online.

chapachula, too funny!

I would be really impressed, though, if you could demonstrate folding the paper maps back up. 25 extra points for folding them when driving down the freeway. With the windows down.

You are right, printing is not obvious.
From the web version, click ‘View Guide’ on the menu above the list of trip stops (on the left).
On the next page there is a printer icon.

We use TripIt for our vacations. Ours are flights and hotels and tours, etc. But I understand they also do road trips and mapping. You put everything in and it gives you day by day, hour by hour, (I’m assuming minute by minute).

Just another suggestion.