Tag Archives: Google Maps

Google Maps can show elevation change

I’ll never forget when we were traveling in New Mexico and asked Google Maps to plot our course from Carlsbad to Alamogordo near White Sands National Park. I didn’t understand why it was telling us to go many miles out of our way to the north, then around and down. When I looked at the map I saw a much more direct route – thru Cloudcroft. Let’s go that way.

Well, we learned the hard way. That is a very steep climb up and an even steeper trudge down. We’d already burned one set of brakes, we had to be very careful not to burn another.

That was some years ago and we didn’t have the separate programs that would tell us what the elevation was. Today it is super simple, right in Google Maps. Just tell Google Maps that you’re on a bicycle and it adds a panel to the left sidebar with the elevation changes along the selected route. Make sure to select the car once as well, just to check that the route is the same. The elevation profile will only show up when you have bicycle selected.

To learn more about navigating with Google Maps, see our Member Learning Guide:

#97 Living the RV Dream

Show Notes for Members below

Not a member? Join here. This episode covers:

  1. Tip o Week: Setting an Alarm
  2. Beginner’s Lesson: About RVing!
    Interview John & Kathy Huggins, LivingTheRVDream.com
    Interview Eric and Tami Johnson, TechnoRV.com
  3. App o week: Ookla Speedtest, OpenSignal, Google Maps

Download .pdf (you’ll see a Dropbox login, but you can just close it – no Dropbox account is needed)

Click Here To View This
Beginning Where are we?
Living The RV Dream Rally
1:11 Tip of the Day – Set an alarm with OK Google (or Siri)
Simply talk to your phone: Android = OK Google, Set a timer for 15 minutes.
Apple: Siri = hold down on home button until she’s listening, then “Set a timer for 15 minutes”
1:34 Interview John and Kathy Huggins of LivingTheRVDream.com
John and Kathy have been fulltime RVers for about 10 years. They are best known for their weekly podcast, “Living the RV Dream” and for their extremely popular Facebook Group: Living the RV Dream.  Over 34,000 members and growing daily!
imageThey’ve also written a couple of RVing books. So You Want To Be An RVer? will tell you everything you might every want to know about RVing!

John and Kathy discuss how RVing has allowed them to see so many things in the United States. Especially Mr. Rushmore!

Note: we had a little technical difficulty with the video for a while, but we covered with photos – and the live video does pick up here.

10:16 We talk with John and Kathy about Internet Technology on the Road.
15:28 Interview Eric and Tami Johnson of TechnoRV.com


Eric and Tami bought TechnoRV from our friends Phil and Tracey May. Years ago, we put together our own RV rallies called Techno-Geek Learning Rally. Phil and Tracey have since moved back to their home in the UK. We are enjoying getting to know Eric and Tami.

They talk about how they made the decision to go RVing. With 3 kids in college, they have a few more considerations than many of us!


Eric and Tami are continuing the TechnoRV process of evaluating, using, and supporting products that are useful to RVers. They’ve done a great job of vetting their products, teaching how to use them, and supporting their customers.

Some of the products they sell at TechnoRV.com

25:16 Eric does a little bit of Show and Tell and teaching about  his Wi-Fi booster equipment. Indoor antennas, outdoor antennas, and repeaters. Wi-Fi vs. Cellular.
He shows the Alfa Desktop WiFi Booster. The Alfa WiFi Repeater, and and Outdoor WiFi Booster TubeThere’s lots more on their website, and if you fill out the form on this page, you can get their
“Guide to Boosting your RV’s WiFi”http://www.technorv.com/RV_WiFi_Boosters_s/85.htm
33:05 App of the Week
In addition to our App, both of our guests had some suggestions!
Ookla Speedtest, OpenSignal, Google Mapsimage

Printicular is the only app we’ve found that can access your Google Photos. Choose the ones you want to print, send to the Walgreen’s nearest you and you can pick up your prints in an hour!

36:11 Tami gets excited about Google Photos!! She learned this week how easy it is to import her lifetime of photos from many different sources.

Ends at 37:55 Complete Playlist of What Does This Button Do shows.

Technology for Travelers: Geeks Teach at an RV Rally

Getting ready to teach our first seminar, "Technology for Travelers", at the Living The RV Dream Gathering

Getting ready to teach our first seminar, “Technology for Travelers”, at the Living The RV Dream Gathering

We just spent last week at an RV rally called “Living the RV Dream Gathering.” People from all over the country who travel by RV gathered here to learn, make friends, and have fun. We presented 4 seminars and one day-long smartphone photography workshop. For RVers, we almost always start with the seminar we call “Technology for Travelers.”

What IS Technology for Travelers?

We have a very specific meaning of Technology for Travelers. We aren’t talking about the satellite dishes, tire pressure monitors, or GPS devices. Although that could also be called Technology for Travelers, we like to teach what can be done with computer technology to Plan, Preserve, and Share your travels.

We have been traveling by RV since 2003 and our most prized possessions of those years are our pictures, maps, and blogs. If you enjoy your memories as much as we do, we think you need to learn how to use your smartphone and/or your computer to do the same!


We take hundreds of photos every month while we’re traveling. We use our iPhone and Android phone most of the time, but also some ‘real’ cameras. We gather our best pictures, using Google Photos,  and put them into albums for each month. Then we make a page on our blog to show off those albums. You can learn how to use the free Google Photos from our Book, Tutorial videos, and more on our website.

photo albums


We use Google’s free My Maps to make our own maps for each year. We start planning for the next year by creating a map like “2017 Geek Travels.” Then as the year progresses, we keep modifying that map. We change destinations, add destinations, and populate each stop with photos and descriptions. At the end of each year, we add the map to a Maps page on our Blog. You can learn how to make these maps with the tutorial videos on our website.



Pictures and maps tell most of the story, but I also like to write out my memories journal-style. Facebook is great for sharing small moments, but to have a complete journal I like using Google’s free Blogger.com. As noted above, you can also use your blog to create pages for other things, like pictures, maps, and videos. The blog is where I put it all together!  I created our blog when we were first just thinking about RVing. That was in early 2003 when Blogger.com was the only option available for a free journal/website. I still think it is the best option, and it is free and easy. Since our beginning in 2003, we have written nearly 2,000 posts. We are now ordering hard-bound, 4-color, coffee table books for each year on the road. Thumbing thru those books is one of my favorite things to do!


Even if you don’t travel by RV, if you have memories you want to keep, check out our Tutorial videos on Photos, Maps, and Blogs. If you do travel by RV, we hope to see you at a Rally sometime down the road! There are hundreds of possible RV rallies to choose from. Most of them are organized by RV Clubs. Living the RV Dream’s website lists all the major clubs here. You can see where we’ll be on our calendar.

Remember Every Place you Visit with Google Maps

By Chris Guld, GeeksOnTour.com

We’re currently visiting the San Francisco Bay area and decided to call up our friends, Rusty and Tony who live in a beautiful houseboat in Sausalito. We were happy to learn they were home and available! When they asked if we needed directions, I said, “No, I have your place marked on Google Maps from the last time we were here.”

“You’re so organized!” Rusty said.

Ha! Organized is about the last adjective I would use to describe myself, but I do know how to use Google Maps, and I had simply marked their place as a favorite the last time we were here – 3 years ago. All I had to do was open Google Maps on my phone, tap on the gold star in Sausalito and ask for navigation.

Rusty and Tony

If you’d like to do this, it’s easy. If you’re currently at the specified location you can use Google Maps on your phone and tap the imageicon to make sure the map is centered on your current location, and you see the blue dot which represents your location

  1. Make sure you are logged in to your Google account – look in the upper right corner.
  2. Longpress on the blue dot (touch and hold) until you see a red teardrop placemarker appear.
  3. You should notice some location info at the bottom of the screen, put your finger on that space and swipe up
  4. You should now see more info about the location, and 3 buttons: Save, Label, and Share. 3 years ago, I only had “Save” which left a gold star in the spot. That’s fine, but now you have “Label” which would allow you to type something like “Rusty and Tony’s”
  5. From now on, whenever you view Google Maps and you’re logged in to your Google account, you can view that location and see a flag labeled “Rusty and Tony’s.” Tap that icon and then the blue arrow for navigate, and you’re on your way!

Google just announced a new app called Trips. It has some interesting features, but the more I look at other travel and mapping apps, I keep coming back to Google Maps. It does so much, just keep learning.

Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She has been in computer training and support since 1983 and owned a Computer Training Center called Computer Savvy from 1983-1996. She has been a Fulltime RVer, popular seminar presenter at RV Rallies, and regular contributor to RVTravel, for many years.

Adding Maps to your Blog Posts, using Screenshots

imageI really like the daily maps that Google makes of my whereabouts. It’s called my Timeline and it’s all done automatically as long as I have location services turned on. A few days ago, we took a cruise around Manhattan, and I think the timeline map will add a lot to my story. Don’t you agree?

Any map (or anything at all!) that you can see on your phone, or on your computer, can be captured as an image. Then it can be used in your Blog, just like any other picture.

To take a screenshot on a cellphone:

  1. View the screen you want to capture
  2. Phones with a physical home button: press and hold power button and home button at the same time, then let go
  3. Phones without a physical home button: press and hold power button and down volume button at same time, then let go
  4. You should hear a click and see a blink on your screen to indicate it has been captured
  5. Now go look in your photos/gallery app and you will see the screenshot along with your photos
    If you’re using Google Photos on Android, be sure the Screenshot folder is checked in Menu, Device Folders
  6. See this demonstrated as our tip of the week on our weekly show #81 about Location Services Here’s the part on
    How to take a screenshot

To take a screenshot – of part of the screen – on a computer

  1. View the screen that includes a part you want to capture
  2. Windows: launch the Snipping Tool app (Start, Snipping, Enter)
    click New, then drag a rectangle around the portion of the screen you want to capture
    click File, Save As to save your picture in the My Pictures folder (or wherever you want)
  3. Mac: Command-Shift-4 – you should see a crosshairs on the screen
    Use the crosshair to drag a rectangle around the part you want to capture
    When you let go, you’ll hear a click and the image file, a .png, will be saved on your desktop

F Instructions above use techniques built in to the computer’s operating system. To get more functionality with your screen captures, we recommend Snagit.

Use Screenshot in a Blog Post

You can now use the captured image like any other photo. For example, if you use Blogger, you can insert the camera screenshot

  1. Click the Insert image button
  2. If you’re using Google Photos: choose “From my phone,” Select the desired screenshot, Add Selected
  3. If you’re not using Google Photos, the image will need to be on your computer, then choose Upload to get it, select it and Add Selected

Example: here’s a blog post of mine using a computer screen capture of Google Maps in Satellite view. Click on the image below to go to the Blog post and see the whole thing, including 2 maps.


Travel Planning: The Missing App is RVNotepad!

Travel Planning: The Missing App is RVNotepad!

A guest post by Pamela Johnson, the developer of RVNotepad. I asked Pam if she would contribute this article because RVNotepad looks like a great tool for travelers and who knows it better than she who designed it! Thanks Pam! 

Planning your trip is both fun and frustrating.  I love dreaming of beautiful landscapes and fascinating history.  But travel planning requires gathering information from a thousand different places, making choices on what to do and what to skip, and then finally, calculating miles, dates and costs.  There are a lot of tools to help you with this challenge, but there were always a few missing pieces.  This was obviously The Case of the Missing App!

Travel planning is fun!

Travel planning is fun!

Huge thanks to Jim and Chris at “Geeks on Tour” for the opportunity to contribute to their blog with this article!

Other bloggers, such as Living the RV Dream  and Wheeling It, and of course Chris Guld here at Geeks On Tour, give me great ideas for what to see and do.  There are wonderful websites such as History Here and so many others that provide lists of things to see. Other sites provide maps of campgrounds such as AllStays and again, so many others!

Once you decide on a general path, you can use google maps or your Garmin to carve out a turn by turn driving tour.

So how do we do this?

Four years ago, when Bill and I started travelling full-time, my first job as a techie was to explore the available tools, both paper and digital, and design our travel planning process.

For us, planning breaks down into 5 steps:

  1. Keep notes on the early research.   Travel planning starts early and lasts forever.  I browse blogs, watch travel shows, and look at local “visit” web sites.  It’s the kind of “work” that makes quiet evenings more interesting.  Dreaming about the future.
  2. Define a rough loop. Because we travel full time, we tend to plan large, long paths.  This fall we will run from Pennsylvania to Northern California before it snows, traveling across the top half of the country.
  3. Find the big rocks. Productivity gurus claim that if you choose the really important things first, the smaller and less important things will fit in around them, like putting big rocks in a glass and filling it with sand.  This is where I start looking through my notes for the important things to see and do along the way.
  4. Choose stopping points. In order to do this, I need to estimate mileage between the Big Rocks, decide if I want to break up the drive with quick over-nights or longer stops.
  5. Finalize plans with campgrounds and reservations. Of course whether or not you even make reservations is a topic for another blog!

The missing app

So here’s where the problems started. 

  • I found lots of apps and websites to give me trip ideas (step 1)
  • I could plot a general path with Google maps and other routing tools, but could not see where my favorite stops and campgrounds were relative to the route. (step 2)
  • As I choose how long to stay at each location, I could not tell what delays in one stop would do to the rest of my schedule. Was I going to get to the niece’s house by Thanksgiving if we spend an extra week in Tennessee?  I tried using a spreadsheet and some date formulas, but it got pretty complicated.
  • Over all, the existing apps really didn’t provide an overall soup-to-nuts process. I needed a place to gather all my research and then map out a plan.

So what does a computer programmer do when she discovers a missing app?  She writes it!

RVNotepad is born

We started full-timing in 2012.  It took about 6 months for my frustration with travel planning to become a decision.  I needed to build an app.  And if I needed it, perhaps others did also.

My idea was to keep all of our travel info, including trip planning, in one place.  So RVNotepad includes journaling, photo management, expense tracking, vehicle maintenance scheduling, fuel tracking and, of course, trip planning.

This means that if I enter a campground or activity while I am planning, it is still in the app when I journal about where I went and attach a campground to the day.  Enter it once, all in one place.

So now my planning process looks like this

Windows Version of Trip Planner

Windows Version of Trip Planner

  1. On quiet evenings, I read the blogs, web sites, or watch the travel and history shows and record ideas under “Attractions” in RVNotepad. I record at least the name, city and state so the location will show up on the map.  Entering street address will make the map more accurate.  Copy and paste it from the website if you don’t like to type.
  2. Then I sketch out the “Big Rocks” and let the planner calculate the distances between them. Note that these are “by-air” distances, so the more entries you make, the more accurate this will be.
  3. My next concern is driving distances that are too long for one day; I like 250 to 300 miles. So I insert stops between the big ones until it feels “just right”.  Show the map occasionally so you can see the basic route.
  4. Finally, I choose campgrounds and add them to the plan. Again, copy and paste as desired.  If you enter the campground price, the tool will calculate camping costs.  Sometimes I cannot find a good place to park, so I need to back up to step 3 and choose another town to stop at.

    Looks like we are going backwards between Alpine and Tucson!

    Looks like we are going backwards between Alpine and Tucson!

  5. Check the route on the map to make sure you aren’t backtracking and going in circles! Glance at the cost calculator for an estimate of fuel and camping costs.  If everything works, your travel planning is complete, until you change your mind of course!




For a more detailed tour of the trip planner in action, check out our YouTube video.

RVNotepad is now available online for tablets and phones, or in the original Windows version

Our first version of RVNotepad was written just for Windows, no internet connection required.  But we had so many people request access to it by phones and devices that we decided to build a web version, available to any device as long as you have an internet connection.

RVNotepad Online went live in June 2016.  The trip planner is a little snug on a phone, but I love it on the tablets.  Some features are not yet available in the Online version, but they are being added quickly.

Our next Version of RVNotepad for Windows will allow you to sync between laptop and the web.  So you can keep your local data for use in a bad Wi-Fi zone, but have access to lists of campgrounds, attractions, journals, etc. when you are walking down the street with your phone.

Give us ideas!

We are always interested in talking to users and potential users who have ideas for the product.  You can visit with us at Facebook.com/RVNotepad, and learn more about the app at RVNotepad.com

If you would like to subscribe to my travel blog, click on over to The Intentional Traveler Blog! We’d love to have you.

Again, a great big thanks to Geeks on Tour for the opportunity to share this new App with you. Jim and Chris are always looking out for fun tools to share. They are my first place to check for gadgets and apps that make the travel life easier.

Published by , in Blog.