Tips, Tricks and How-to's for fun, comfy and easy trips!

Planning Tools for Your Trip - mapping, guides and more

Tools... well, in the 21st century that can mean apps on your phone or PC as much as a shovel or hammer.

Planning tools

Mapping software

Essential for determining the best routes and the drive times, some also help to find interesting points along the way.Roadtrippers.com map

Free:

Apple maps can only do one point to one other point. Google maps is better, it has the ability to tell you the drive times and distances and do multiple points (up to about a dozen).  So for figure how how far you can go in one day and how many stops you can squeeze, it is essential.  But both of these are lousy at finding places along the way to visit.

Free (and a paid premium version):

For that you need RoadTripper.com. This software is a great planning tool, since it does the mapping part, with multiple stops, but also shows you points of interest along the way.  You can define the radius (how many miles from the route to search) and set filters for the type of points of interest to display (campgrounds,  sights, attractions, hotels, motels, fuel, dining, outdoor activities, etc.)

I use it to figure out basic feasibility of a trip, break it into daily trip segments and find fun and interesting places to stop and take breaks along the way.  You have to stop for fuel, restrooms and food anyway, why not stop to do this at an interesting place?

Tools on the road

Once you are on your trip, your choice of mapping software changes to more practical:

Waze is the essential point to point GPS driving tool while you are on the road.  It is the only app that alerts you to police, road hazards, traffic jams, alternative routes as well as mapping. It can only handle one stop along the way, so that is a limitation.  I use my iPad and have both Apple maps and Waze running concurrently, with Apple doing the day's destination, and Waze handling the drive to the next stop in that day.

Another useful app is GasBuddy.com which helps you find the cheapest gas near you or near an city you enter.

Finally, getting gasoline that won't build deposits on your engine's valves is also important.  Here's where Top Tier.com comes in handy.  AAA recommends it.  They suggest you should buy gas from the Top Tier-approved gas brands to keep your car running better.  That's these brands: Notice that includes Costco and QT, but NOT Sam's Club or RaceTrac.

Top Tier Licensed Retail Brands in the United States:

  • 76
  • ARCO
  • Aloha
  • Amoco
  • BP
  • Beacon
  • Break Time C Stores
  • Breakaway
  • CITGO
  • Cenex
  • Chevron
  • Conoco
  • Costco Wholesale
  • CountryMark
  • CountryMark PLUS
  • Diamond Shamrock
  • Express Mart
  • Exxon
  • Fast Fuel
  • GetGo
  • HFN – Hawaii Fueling Network
  • Harmons Fuel Stop
  • Hele
  • Holiday
  • Kirkland Signature Gasoline
  • Kwik Star
  • Kwik Trip
  • MFA Oil
  • Marathon
  • Meijer
  • Meijer Express
  • Metro Petro
  • Mobil
  • Ohana Fuels
  • Phillips 66
  • QT
  • QuikTrip
  • Ranger
  • Ranger Fuel
  • Ranger Mustang
  • Ranger Stallion
  • Ranger Thoroughbred
  • Reeder’s
  • Road Ranger
  • Rutter’s
  • Shamrock
  • Shell
  • Simonson Station Stores
  • Sinclair
  • Texaco
  • Tobacco Outlet Plus Grocery
  • Valero
  • Value America
  • WOW
  • Win Win

Updated: February 2021