In an earlier post, I commented that I couldn’t imagine living the RV lifestyle without smart- phones, ubiquitous wi-fi and apps. And perhaps one of the most helpful is Google Maps. When charting a long, multi-stop journey (like the one from our home in Florida to Arizona) we start with the Good Sam Trip Planning Tool. But when we get close or are camped and exploring the local area we rely on Google Maps.
Google Maps is particularly helpful if. like us, you don’t tow. We rely on public transportation, our bicycles, and our feet to explore most areas. Here is a sample scenario from our trip last summer to the National Senior Games. (The kind folks at the National Senior Games provided a highly discounted public transit ticket to every contestant, so even though everyone else in our group had cars, we often used the buses to get to the games and explore the Twin Cities.)
Simply begin with putting in where you want to go. The pickleball competition was at the Minneapolis Convention Center. I didn’t even have to know the address; “Convention Center” was enough to find the location. You can then enter your address, or choose “your location” to chart your course. In the screenshot, you see that Google has assumed we are traveling by car. It estimates it will take 11 minutes, and provides the best route in blue. You can see an alternate route in gray, which will take a little longer.
Google Maps: Public Transportation &/or Walk
But since we don’t have a car, we select the bus icon. The app then displays the public transit options. Notice that it assumes I want to leave shortly. But if you select “depart” you can modify the time you want to leave. There is also an option which allows you to say when you want to arrive. It turned out there was a bus stop right outside the Lowry Grove RV park, but that would require us to change buses. So instead, we chose the third option in the list which required us to walk a short distance but would allow us to stay on a single bus the whole way.
What is really great about Google Maps is that it even charts your walk for you. Just hold your phone as you walk and it will locate you on the map. (BTW: I walk a lot faster than the good folks at Google Maps. So I always arrive in plenty of time.) You can even track your progress on the bus in case you are afraid you might miss your stop.
I sometimes check the local transit system’s website as well. It’s possible Google may not know about a labor dispute, construction impacts or routes that have been recently added. But to date, it has never let me down. (For those of you that enjoy international travel, we have found that the functionality works in many parts of the world!) It even seems to recognize routes that are altered on weekends or Sundays. And the fact that it knows where we are, and the addresses of major landmarks (museums, schools, convention centers, etc) is a major advantage.
Ain’t technology, and Google Maps, a wonderful thing?