Google Earth, Google Maps and GPS Rout planning can be a daunting Task, though at first glance it seems so simple, “if you want to travel from California to Alaska just put in your start point and end point and it does the work for you” well as it turns out it is a timely process of Picking the sights you want to see and the setting way points on the Roads you would like to ride on the way, A straight line or fastest route is not likely the one you will want to take. After you have selected your rout you will then need to either make legible maps with step by step directions (Google maps will do this part for you quite well) or if you’re taking a GPS you will need to transfer the rout in to a GPS or GPX file for import to you GPS unit. Its all a time intensive process, but not without its reward, in fact I mention Google earth because if you also open your rout in Google Earth you may find some unexpected treasures!
As you look deeper/closer to each road you have selected you will also see alternate routes that get you to the same place, it is quite common that I find a much better road or an embedded photo left by another user that ultimately has me change my plans for a much better road. Its these little things that can make a good ride in to an epic adventure.
You can get overwhelmed so it’s good to just take one section at a time for the longer trips, and know its well worth the effort in the end.
Below is a Draft of the Rout Plan for the 2015 Alaska Adventure, as you can see we cover a lot of ground, so the trip is divided up into Days. We will have both GPS units loaded with the maps routs and way-points and hard copy maps with the rout outlined on it.
As a Note: in 2013 I did not take a GPS but it did print out each days plan with detailed turn by turn directions, I found that after so much planning I actually did not use the Maps or directions on a regular bases, rather I would look at them in the morning and focus on particular destinations, if I got wondered of course (got lost) I could always go back to the map. This year the number of special roads and sights that are just off the main road, that I have planned the GPS just makes sense.
My Mapping Starts with Google maps, setting way-points as destinations. This helps me plan each days overall mileage and basic rout, I then remap the entire rout in Garmin BaceCamp to create the initial GPS Rout. Its after this step I go back to Google maps and Google Earth and start looking for those unique roads and sights, I can then go back to BaceCamp and re plan each Day according to the new Plan.
Sounds like a lot of rework, and yes it is, but BaceCamp is the tool I’m using to load my GPS and it is not nearly as up to date or as detailed and Google map and or Earth.
Note: I have found the numbering your way-points in BaceCamp will make the process of creating and modifying routs much easier. I will use a 1 for Day one and .0 - .1 and so on to numerate each way-point for that day, it works for me!
In the End I create Google Map, Google Earth and GPX Files for each person on the trip, they can load there GPS Print a Map for the family and print one to take along If they would like.