Thursday, November 28, 2013

Another Online Tool for the Traveler

About a year ago, I posted an article about online tools I use when traveling. (See "Online Tools for RVers"). I've recently discovered something new I want to share.

While using Google Maps a week or so ago, I noticed a little feature I had not seen before. There's no telling how long it has been available, but I had never seen it. I was measuring the distance from two locations when I happened to see it.

One of my favorite features of Google Maps is that it allows you to get directions from Point A to Point B. When you first pull the program up, you will see this feature available in the upper-left corner of the screen. Simply click on the "Get Directions" button. You can then enter your starting point and your destination. When you do so, the new feature I discovered becomes available.

In the example below, I've entered San Angelo as my starting point and Austin as my destination. The program has returned 3 possible routes, each showing the distance and calculated time to travel that route. As you hover over each choice, that route will highlight in the right part of the screen, on the actual map. Just below the 3 options is a little button, which I have circled in red, that allows you to enter the 3D option. If you click this button, then Google Earth will load and will move you through your route from the starting point to the end point. In other words, you will get an aerial view of your route from start to finish.

For longer trips, it would take quite a while to watch the route play out, but for shorter routes, you can get a good visual of your trip before taking off. Yesterday, I put in a 99 mile route, and it took close to 10 minutes to follow that route, so this is not something you want to use with longer trips. But for shorter trips, it can be quite useful.

Another step forward in armchair travel. Onward!

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