Since we’re getting ready to hit the road ourselves, the theme for this newsletter is Travel Planning. We use lots of different maps and apps to plan our travels – we’ll be teaching a seminar at both rallies called, “Maps and Apps for RV Trip Planning”. If you can’t attend, you can still view all of the class materials here.
Check out the articles this month about calculating dates in your travel plans, staying at Harvest Hosts, and finding those scenic gems with the Roadtrippers website.
We’re also happy to announce that our Learn Google Photos book has now been updated to reflect the changes in the product before and thru June 1. We’ll be showing the Kindle version of it as we teach how to control the Kindle app in Episode 214 of our YouTube show on June 6.
If you use a trip-planning app, here’s how it usually goes … you enter your starting location and your starting date, then you enter every night stop along the way and the app will calculate the dates of arrival. But what if you don’t want to plan every night? We’ve come up with an easy trick to make it all work.
When you travel by RV, you don’t really need a place to stay, you just need a place to park. RV parks with full hookups are nice but not always necessary. If you’re willing to park somewhere without hookups, you have many more options. One of our favorites is called Harvest Hosts.
All of the tips above are part of our seminar called Maps and Apps for RV Trip Planning. We will be presenting that seminar at both the FMCA and the Escapade RV rallies in July. We presented the same seminar at the Tampa RV Supershow in January, and also to several clubs over Zoom.
We’ve collected all the class materials and put them on one page for you to peruse whenever you want! Just visit the page Maps and Apps for RV Trip Planning and you’ll be able to download the seminar handout and view the slides we use to present the class.
You’ll also find links to all the apps and websites that we mention. Last but not least there is a playlist of over a dozen of our tutorial videos on subjects related to travel planning.
Google Photos is changing all the time, and we have several ways of alerting you to the changes, but sometimes the changes are significant enough that we need to reprint the book. The Learn Google Photos book has been updated to reflect the changes that took place on and before June 1, 2021. If you click the image at right, you will go
to the Amazon page to look inside the book at the first several pages of the Kindle edition of the book.
If you like this newsletter, please forward it on to your friends! If you received this issue forwarded by a friend you can subscribe to get your own copy delivered to your in box – it’s free. You can also visit the archives of past newsletters. If you’ve learned something from us along the way, we’d love a Google Review from you!
When you travel by RV, you don’t really need a place to stay, you just need a place to park. RV parks with full hookups are nice but not always necessary. If you’re willing to park somewhere without hookups, you have many more options. One of our favorites is called Harvest Hosts. Rather than pulling into a Walmart parking lot, or a Cracker Barrel, when we want something a bit more fun, we’ll check the map for host locations up ahead on our route. It might be a winery, a farm, or even a museum. Membership in the Harvest Hosts system gives you access to the contact information for the hosts, so we can email or call them and see if they have availability. We usually do that the day before we plan to get there. So far, everyone has said yes and we’ve had some memorable nights parked in picturesque vineyards, exciting air and space museums, delicious breweries, and tasty farms.
The Harvest Hosts website makes it easy to see the hosts along your route
Once you’ve joined Harvest Hosts, you can use the tools on the website, or the app, to plot your route and see all the hosts along the way. Click on a host to see the contact information.
As I write this article, I take a look at the map in the Houston area and see a host that is an air museum. I’m going to mark that as a favorite so that, when we get close to the Houston area, I will be able to find this place again.
Harvest Hosts have been some of our most memorable RV stops.
We’ve stayed at Air and Space museum hosts a few times and especially enjoy being amongst the rockets and planes in the evening when everyone else has gone home. The wineries are always good. One time we were treated to live music, and another winery stop was during the Solar Eclipse in 2017.
Did you know that Google Maps can plot a course with multiple destinations? It’s also easy to change the order of your destinations, print the turn by turn directions or remember the destinations for later? This video will show you how. You need a computer (Mac or Windows) for multiple destinations – this feature is not available on mobile devices.
We spend a fair amount of time using our computers for planning our travels and are always on the lookout for tools that will help the process. The latest one that has caught our attention is RVTripWizard.com. It is completely web-based. There is nothing to download to your computer. You must have an Internet connection, and then you can use any device with a web-browser. I’ve tried it on our Nexus 7 tablet and on our iPad. It works, but it’s a lot easier on the computer, just like most websites.
Notice, in the image below, that the maps come from Google Maps, so we already know how to navigate around that part of the screen. It even includes the Street View ‘Peg Man.’ Also notice the yellow highlighting I added to the left side of the screenshot. That area contains the details on each stop along the way – what has me so excited is that the stop list includes the date that you will arrive. This is not a feature that everyone cares about, but we sure do. Our travels revolve around being at rallies on specific dates and we have yet to find any other trip planning software that includes this logical information!
Features we like:
Campgrounds show up as icons on your map – you don’t have to search. As you zoom in to an area, more icons appear. If you have entered your preferences into the program, then your preferred campgrounds will appear with their custom logo. So, you will see at a glance if there is a park in your membership system near your route. Here is a sampling of the preferences you can specify:
You can create, and save, as many trips as you like. They will stay online as part of your account for as long as you have an account. This makes it easy to look up a past trip and see where you stayed. You can even write notes about the campground, the site, the local area – whatever you want.
In addition to the dates (our favorite feature!) the program calculates miles and costs for each segment based on your settings. You can also manually enter costs, so this can be an accurate report of your expenditures for any given trip.
Printing: It’s so nice to have an overview of your trip to pin to a bulletin board, or tape to the refrigerator. RV Trip Wizard prints out a nice map and listing of all your stops with the miles, number of nights, and DATES! It does not include turn by turn directions. That’s fine by me – I just want the one page overview. We’ll still be using GPS Navigation to get there.
Saving: the system saves your work after each thing you do. There is no need to save – it’s already done. Which is a good thing because if you leave the RV Trip Wizard screen idle for a while, it times out and goes back to a blank map. No problem, just open your existing – saved- trip.
Features that Needs Improvement
GPS – this is not a GPS navigation program. It is a trip planning program. That’s OK, it’s a really nice planning tool and we have plenty of other navigation tools. My request is that it integrate completely with Google Maps. I’d like to see this same set of marked points on My Maps in Google. So, let me enter my Google account username and password and find a way to take the marked stops from RV Trip Wizard and save them as a map in My places. That would be AWESOME – since My Maps is also on my Android smartphone and tablet. See last month’s article: Google Maps from the Web to your Smartphone. RV Trip Wizard has a form for suggestions – I think I’ll fill it out with that one! They do have a ‘Send to GPS’ button where you can download a .csv file of all your stops and import that into Garmin devices using the POI Loader.
Saving to your computer – I’m not sure if there is a way to do this but I don’t see any. This is strictly web-based, I see no way to archive your trips to your computer for any kind of future reference. I assume whenever you cancel your membership, then your trips will disappear. March, 2014 update: I now see there is a feature for “Print to Excel.” This solves my issue perfectly. The resulting Excel file keeps all my trip data, destination, arrival date, departure, travel miles, cost, and latitude/longitude of the planned stops.
We’ll keep putting RV Trip Wizard thru it’s paces and get back to you in a couple months with what we’ve learned.
RV Trip Wizard costs $37/year. They give you a 2 week Free Trial before any fees are charged. For more info see the RVTripWizard users Guide. If you try it, let us know what you think in the comments below.