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:
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:
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.”
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.
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!
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!
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.
In today’s GPS-connected world, travelers have many choices for navigation devices. Garmin, Tom-Tom, Magellan, and Copilot are just a few of the brand names for the dashboard devices that will guide you down the road. Even our cell phone (Droid) has wonderful GPS navigation capabilities today. But, for planning those trips, nothing beats a computer with mapping software like Microsoft Streets and Trips.
Time and Money Calculator
Streets and Trips, running on our laptop computer, has been our guide for all 7 years of our RV travels. We’re currently on version 2010. Below is a beginning level video to give you an idea of how easy it is to plan a trip and have the software tell you where to go, how long it will take, and how much you’ll spend in gas. Traveling in an RV is a completely different story when it comes to time and money, than traveling in a car. If you know where to change the settings, the software will take this into account.