Tag Archives: Google Maps

Furkot: A Funny Name for a Great Trip Planner

Furkot's map view of our trip planby Chris Guld  GeeksOnTour.com

There is no perfect Trip-Planning system, but that doesn’t stop us from continuing to look for one! Here’s a list of systems we have used:

  1. Streets & Trips (we even have a full set of tutorial videos on using this one)
  2. RoadTrippers – see article Roadtrippers for Trip Planning
  3. RVTripWizard – see article RV Trip Wizard for Planning your RV Travels
  4. Google Maps – not really a trip-planner, but everything else! Google’s My Maps and Custom POI Files, Mapping and Sharing Your Travels with Google My Maps

The latest system we are checking out is Furkot.com. It is a free website . There is no mobile app, but the mobile website works fine on either iPhone or Android. Furkot is not specific to RVs. It is generally for cars and motorcycles who need to book motels/hotels along the way. But campgrounds are in there as well and it is based on Google Maps so all the data in Google is available.

Yes, you need an Internet connection to plan your trip, but then it can be available offline for reference.

Planning a Trip with Furkot

It works a lot like Streets & Trips – that’s a good thing since we were so accustomed to S&T:

  1. Start a Trip by entering your beginning and your end destination. One additional feature that I haven’t seen in any other system is a checkbox to make it a “Round Trip.”
  2. Furkot automatically enters tentative night stops based on your settings for when you start and stop your day and how far you want to go. When you enter your own stops, the tentative ones will disappear. I LOVE this feature for showing us exactly where we need to be looking for our overnight stops.
  3. Dates: a feature that was always sorely missing in S&T was any kind of calendaring. With Furkot, it not only shows the date you will arrive/leave any give stop – you can also point to any place along your route and see what time of day you’ll be there! Here is what the “Plan” drawer looks like. Notice the Days and dates for each stop. And, if you change the start date, or the number of nights at any stop – the dates recalculate for every other stop. There is even a feature to “Lock” a date. So, for example, if you need to arrive in time to attend a wedding, you can lock that stop’s date and it will not let you recalculate other items in a way that gets you there late!
    Furkot's Daily plan view of our trip plan

Navigating a Trip that was Planned with Furkot

Furkot is not a navigation system, it is a planning system. That makes a lot of sense to me. I see them as very different things. We use a Rand McNally RVND7720 to navigate with the RV. It is always on the dashboard, and it has only one job to do. Each day as we set off on the road, we’ll look at our plan and enter just today’s destination into the Rand McNally. Then, we trust it to avoid low bridges, and propane restricted tunnels etc. We also use Google Maps on our phones. With Furkot, I can see our plan on the phone, tap on one destination and tap on Navigate. That takes me to Google Maps and it starts navigating to that destination. Good enough for me!

If you are the type of traveler that wants your entire route imported from your plan to your dashboard GPS, they’ve got you covered!

Export trip plan to GPS

We’ll try it out

We leave for a 3 month journey at the end of the week. We will use Furkot and write more about it in future articles, and on our Facebook Page. Let us know if you give it a try by using the comments below. If you’re looking for a trip-planning system, you owe it to yourself to take a look at Furkot. They have an extensive help system that explains everything you need to know.

Test Your Smartphone Smarts #7

Here is the seventh in our series of Review Questions from our “What Does This Button Do?” show. These can’t be graded, but if you want to see the discussion of our answers to these questions, you can click the link provided. The link will take you to the time in the specific episode where we start the discussion of review questions. Since we have produced 86 episodes so far, this “Test Your Smartphone Smarts” will be an ongoing series of posts here.

Click here to watch our answers
Episode #25: Photo Organization Show Notes

  • Pictures taken with your iPad/iPhone can be viewed in the Photos app. To see them grouped by date/place you need to tap on which option?
    A. Photos B. Shared C. Albums
  • 3.To add pictures to your Favorites on iPhone/iPad, you view the favorite picture then tap on what button?
  • 6.T/F: On Android, if you’re seeing an Album for Picasa, you can eliminate it by tapping the menu->Content to Display->Uncheck Picasa
Episode #26: Google Maps Show Notes

  • When using google maps and the view gets twisted, how do you return to North is Up view?
  • How do you see Street View?
  • When you locate a place, you should see Info cards on that place. If you don’t see them, what do you do?
Episode #28: Web Browsing Show Notes

  • To Browse to a website, you need a browser: Name 2
  • How can you save a website as an icon on your home screen – like an app?
Episode #29: Data Usage Show Notes

  • What are 2 ways to check your Data usage?
  • What is the only way to be sure you are not using Cellular data at any given time?
  • Can you tell what Apps are using the most Data?

If you click the time link, you will be viewing the Youtube video for that episode. The link takes you directly to the end of the show where we discuss the review questions. You can always drag the video playhead to the beginning to watch more of that episode. And, if you are a premium member of Geeks On Tour, you have access to the show notes for each episode. You will find all show notes on the Weekly Show page. So, how did you do on the questions? Leave any comments below! See previous “Smartphone Smarts”

Get an Accurate Travel Diary with Google’s Location History

If you turn on Location Services and allow Google Maps to save location history, it records everywhere you go – as long as your phone is with you. It also records the times and photos you took along the way. On an Android phone, you access this stored data by opening the Google Maps app, tapping the 3-line menu in upper left and choosing Timeline. Then select a day from the dropdown lists, and you will see where you went and what you did that day!


Turning it Off

Now, I know that some of you are a little creeped out by this! First of all, you need to know that this is for your eyes only. No one else can see this information unless they can log into your Google Account. I can’t even figure out a way to share this screen with anyone when I want to – you just can’t. To get that picture above, I took a screenshot – it is just a static image.

If you still want to turn it off, just turn off location services for Google Maps.

  • Android: Open Google Maps App, 3-line menu in top left, Settings, Google Location Settings, Google Location History – turn off
  • iPhone: Open Google Maps App, 3-line menu in top left, Settings, Location History – turn off

You can also delete the existing location history that has already been recorded. See detailed instructions from Google Help.

Seeing Your Location History

There are slightly different techniques depending on what device you’re using:

On a Computer:

  • Go to Maps.google.com and make sure you’re logged in with your Google account
  • Click the 3-line menu in upper left
  • Click Your Timeline

On Android:

  • Open Google Maps App and make sure you’re logged in with your Google account
  • Tap the 3-line menu in upper left
  • Tap Your Timeline

On an iPhone/iPad – the Google Maps App doesn’t have Timeline yet on iOS

  • Open a Browser, preferable Chrome, but Safari also works
  • Go to Maps.google.com/locationhistory

I find this very handy to remember locations and routes. And, I love it for having a picture of maps with my route for putting in my Blog! For lots more info on what your smartphone can do with location information, see Episode 82 of What Does This Button Do? Location Services

What about you? Love it? Hate it? Found any practical use for it? Leave a comment.

Navigate with GPS by Taking a Picture!

Photo of our location for purposes of navigating thereThat’s right! Take a picture of a place you need to return to. Take that picture with a smartphone that has the GPS tagging feature turned on. Now, when you need to return, you can view the picture, see the GPS location and navigate back. Pretty slick.  Here’s the details:

  1. I used a Samsung Galaxy S5. This should work with any type of Android device as long as you have Google Maps version 9.21 or higher. It does not seem to work on an iPhone … yet.
  2. I used Google Photos to view the photo
  3. Before taking the picture, be sure you have the Location Tags (aka Geotags) turned ON in your camera’s settings. I leave mine on all the time.
  4. Now, when you take a picture, view it using Google Photos and tap the i (for Information) you should see a map with a marker.
  5. Tap the map marker and it will open Google Maps, then tap the Blue car button and it will navigate to the place where the photo was taken.

If you are an RVer – this is SO useful! For a long time now, we’ve been teaching people about the ability to save a location with a star in Google Maps, then you can navigate back to the star at any time. I still use this technique, but my Google Maps is getting to be covered with stars! This method of using a picture and navigating to it is great for situations like yesterday. We were staying at a large RV park for only one night, we really didn’t have a feel for the directions within the park at all. So, I took a picture of our motorhome on our site. Then, after going out to dinner, I opened the picture (using Google Photos) tapped the i, then tapped the map and we were getting directions back to our exact site. It would be really useful if you’re trying to return to a boondocking site in the middle of nowhere!

  • App: Google Maps and Google Photos
  • Author: Google
  • Cost: $0
  • Platform: This feature only works on Android right now

Some tutorial videos related to this topic:

  1. Episode 74 of What Does This Button Do – at timeline mark 24:50: Navigate to a Picture
  2. 403. Google Maps – Saving a Location with a Star
  3. 419.Google Navigation – Add a Stop

Also our What Does This Button Do? Episode 15: GeoLocating Photos, Waze app

Google Maps and Multi-Stop Routes

If you use Google Maps on your phone to navigate, you’ve probably noticed that it has been limited to navigating from your current location to one destination. That is normally enough, but there are some times that you want to take a little detour somewhere in the middle. In the past, you needed to cancel your current route and start over with getting instructions for the detour. The latest update changes that.

Adding a Stop while Navigating

While you’re navigating, you now see a magnifying glass – the icon for Search – in the upper right side of the Google Maps screen. Tap that icon and you’ll see several options: gas stations, Restaurants, Grocery stores, and Coffee shops. If you choose gas stations, you will see the stations along your route. You will also see the latest price for gas attached to each station. I don’t see how to get Diesel prices, so I’ll be keeping Gas Buddy for a while.

imageWhile navigating, tap the Search icon Then tap Gas Stations to see stations and prices along your route
image image

If you want to stop at one of those stations, just tap it and you will see an icon at the bottom to Add Stop.

If you’re not looking for something in those categories, you can click the “Search for more places” to get Google’s normal search screen. Search for whatever you want, then tap a location in the search results to Add Stop.

Create a Multi-Stop route and Save it

You can’t save the route you just created on the phone, but if you create a route on the computer, there is a way.

  • Open the Chrome browser on a computer and go to Maps.Google.com
  • Click the Directions button image
  • Enter destinations, clicking the image button to add more (up to 8 stops)
  • When you’re satisfied with the route, copy the long URL that has been created in the Address Bar (or you can click on Details, then the Share button – this gives you the same link, but with an option to shorten the link)
  • Send yourself an email and paste the URL link into it.

When you open that email on your phone and tap the URL link, you can open up Google maps and use Navigation for the entire route.

Geeks on Tour members can watch these videos to see exactly what I mean.


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Measuring Distance with Google Maps

I’m always planning my travels and asking, I wonder how far it is from ___ to ___? Or, if we want to drive about 200 miles today, where does that get us? Google Maps is my tool of choice for anything map related and it can answer both of these questions.

To go from X to Y, is how many miles?

To ask that question, I use the directions feature of Google Maps. Tap the directions button imageto get started. On a computer, you’ll see that button at the top left of your screen next to the search box. On a smartphone, you’ll see it in a blue circle at the bottom right. On either one, clicking it will open up a From and To field. On your phone it assumes you want the “From” location to be your current location, but you can just tap on that and type somewhere else. On a computer, you can click the map to set a From or To location.

So, if I want to know how many miles it is from Essex Junction, VT to Ship Bottom, NJ, it will look like the screenshots below. Google reports that it is at least 388 miles. Note: if we were using this to navigate, I would use exact addresses or locations, but just to get a ballpark I use city names.

On a Computer On a Phone
image image

If I go X miles, where am I?

388 miles is way too far for us to go in one day in our motorhome! We prefer more like 200 miles. We’ve been doing this a long time, and we’re lazy! The question I want to ask now is, “If we leave from Essex Junction and go 200 miles in the general direction of Ship Bottom, where are we? Google calls that “measure distance” and it does it with a straight line, so this won’t be accurate with turn by turn, it will be ‘as the crow flies.’ I wish I could ask, “following the route above, show me 200 miles from the start.” The only program I’ve ever found that can do that is Streets & Trips from Microsoft, and it has been discontinued. So I will make due with Google’s approximation.

On a Computer: Right click on your starting point and choose the option to Measure Distance. Now you can click another point and see the distance written next to the line that is drawn and also in the Measure distance dialog box that appears at the bottom of the screen.  You can drag that one point until you see 200 miles, or you can click to set multiple points and get a closer approximation to actual distance.

imageOn a Phone: You need to start from a pin. You get a pin to show by tapping on named location, or longpress anywhere on the map. Once a pin is visible, you will see a name for that location at the bottom of the screen, swipe up on that bottom area to reveal an information panel – at the bottom of the information panel, you should see a link to “Measure Distance.”

Tap on “mesure distance” and you will now see a black circle. You can’t drag the circle, you drag the map and the circle stays in the center. You can pinch and zoom the map and the bottom of the screen will report the miles represented. You gotta play with it a bit to get the hang of it. Once you got it, it’s easy.

Both the computer and the phone report that a 200 mile straight line from Essex, lands us somewhere between Kingston and Beacon, NY. Knowing that the true distance will be longer than the straight line, I’ll start looking for campgrounds in the vicinity of Kingston.


Here’s a video that demonstrates both types of measurements for Members only.

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This article is by Chris Guld, of GeeksOnTour.com. To learn more about using Google Maps and many other programs of use to travelers, visit her website and consider becoming a member in order to view all the tutorial videos.