Thursday, June 30, 2016

My Google Maps - guide and review

The last couple years have involved traveling with a new relationship and planning ahead has become critical for everyone's piece of mind.

Long story short... a too that has helped emensely is a google product, separate from Google Maps, as such.

Just Google My Google Maps and the links will appear.  You need a Google Account (silly not to have one when it can completely replace microsoft in your life..)

The first page will ask you about starting a new map or returning to a previous one.  Nice that Google never looses anything you have done in the past.

Here's an example of a 5,000 mile trip we executed last year.  BMW MOA Finished <<< (above)

The finished product may look complex, but it's created in layers so you only have to look at the details which are important to you at the moment.

Each layer can have 10 highlights. Somehow some layers (like the pic on the right) allow more pins to be added. A layer of route planning directions can have 10 destinations. Multiple successive routs are usually necessary. All of this links to your android phone, so if you turn on Google Maps on your phone or tablet it will bring up your recent maps and show your current position (while connected to internet.)

We started planning our Winter 2016 Out West trip by loading a map with a bunch of "things to do."  See above.

Then we added "Locations of people we know."  (blue pins)  I am cerrtain there are others, but these were our prime candidates for sharing time.  The various icons represent categories of location like photo op or stay over.

Each of these layers can be switched off without being deleted.  A handy feature when things start lookig busy.

The we started plotting our route using the "directions" tool.
 Once you have a course planned you willl know relative distances to each destination and turn by turn instructions.  Having this display on a tablet on your dashboard is really handy!

We did this trip in our truck so there were a few things we didn't need to worry about... The BMW MOA trip to Montana was our second BIG trip with the 30' Toy Hauler in tow.  Using My Google Maps we charted every majot truck stop in the entire trip so we knew where we could refuel without trying to squeeze into a Quick Mart.  That was a live saver!

Adding in Memphis sights, BMW and Harley Dealers, Major cities and OK Rt 66, this was the planner when we left the house.  We free-handed much of the southwest to pick up Silver City, Gila Cliff Dwellings The Opera House (Pinos Altos, NM) and Bear Creek Lodge, not to mention ghost towns and honkey tonks around the south west.  We did divert from the shown route to pickup the IMS show in Dallas, friends and a couple day trips in San Antonio and any detour that looked better than the road ahead.

Positive features of My Google Maps:

  • Easy to edit and recalcualte
  • interfaces, updated constantly and stored online.  Interfaces with all of your PC and android devices.
  • printable
  • Easy to share
  • provides turn-by-turn detail
  • Has distance measuring tool so you can estimate where to do stop-overs... like we can do 500 miles per day in the truck but prefer only about 250 when towing the toy-hauler/camper.
Weak points:
  • would be nice to be able to "save a copy" and create alternative plans
I expect that in the future this service will interface and access even more Google services. but when you need services while using this tool you can just type in "motel 6" or "State Park" and it plots them right in...   Handy at the end of the day.

Travel safe... and keep your trackers on!


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