Planning a trip and looking for the best map software
I am planning a multi state road trip to New England. I am finding it hard to find map software that does what I need. This might be because what I want to do is not the most logical way, but it's the best I can come up with.

Many years ago I used Delorme Street Atlas, but this was back in 1999 or 2000 and I can't remember it's functionality.

I just recently downloaded Microsoft Streets and Trips and am trying it out with their 60 day trial. I have found it to not do some things that I had hoped or expected.

My requirements (or likes).

1. I would like software that allows me to designate my own routes (without the need to create a stop).
2. I would like to be able to merge maps together (or overlay them). I want to create an individual map for each route (scenic drive) that I might want to take. I then want to merge all these maps together to see which I want to take and how I can link them together. I also want to overlay (or merge) in my POI data so I can see if the things I want to do or stops I want to make are near any of the scenic drives. In the end, I would remove some POI and scenic drives if they don't fit into the plan.
3. I don't need the software to tell me when to stop to pee or any of that stuff.
4. If it can give me turn by turn directions based on the routes I specify, that would be great, but not needed.

Really, the show stopper for me is #2. I can't figure out if it's possible in Streets and Trips. If it is, I can make do with the software.

I used Google maps last year when I did a 3000 mile trip to SD, but I didn't have as many stops and although it worked, it was rather clunky. I thought with their new feature of being able to save maps would make it better, however, I have not been able to get it to work reliably and after spending about 3 hours on one state, I lost everything when it wouldn't save.

So, anyone have any suggestions? I am a systems analyst, so I am computer savy. I have years of experience with GPS and map software (mostly National Geographic Topo), so I am not really a noob.
Ken in Regina
What you want to do, including #2, is duck soup with Garmin's Mapsource program.

I have to emphasize that Garmin's Mapsource is NOT a navigation program.

Garmin's Mapsource program comes with their DVD-based map products. In your case, that would be City Navigator North America. When you install the maps, Mapsource is also installed.

Mapsource has many of the same features as Streets&Trips or Street Atlas for trip planning but it doesn't go nearly as deep as Streets&Trips.

For your route planning, there is a Route tool on the toolbar. You click on it and just start clicking on the map. Click the point where you want to start, then click points along the way for one of your scenic drives and when you've got it covered from end to end, click the end point of the drive, right-click and hit "Cancel" to tell it you're done.

The route you have just created will show up highlighted in a specific colour and will be listed in the "ROUTES" tab. At this point you have a choice how to proceed.

Option A: You can save this "map" with a specific name and reload it later. Then you can start a new one, follow the same procedure as above and save it as a unique name for later loading.

If you follow this course of action, you can later merge the routes into a single "map".

But there's a much better and easier way to do it.

Option B: Save this file so you don't lose your work, but don't start a new one. Just continue with this one. You can start another - different - route, clicking on the different places you want to see. It will show up on the ROUTES tab with a different name.

The ROUTES tab is where you control the display of your routes and also where you can see the summary information for distance and driving time for each route.

You can get all the details, including detailed driving instructions, for each route.

When you click on a route it will be highlighted in a different colour to make it stand out. But you can still see all the routes at the same time.

You can change the display colour for highlighted routes if you wish.

When you have decided where you really want to travel, you can just click on the Route tool again and start clicking to create the final route. When you're happy with it you can print the map and/or the driving directions.

So what's the negative? Well, Mapsource has no concept of "Stops". So when you create a route it will give you the total driving time for that route as if you were going to drive it non-stop. If you want daily driving routes, you need to create seperate routes for each day of driving. It's trivial to do because of the ease of using the routing tool in Mapsource but it's something to be aware of.

If this sounds interesting and you would like to see a screenshot or two, give me a start point, end point and a few points of interest along the way (just city/town names will do) and I'll post a screenshot of what it looks like in Mapsource.

Oh yeah, did I mention that Mapsource is NOT a navigation program?

The best way to use Mapsource is with some other Garmin navigation product, like a Nuvi personal navigation device or Mobile PC on a netbook or laptop or Mobile XT on a PDA or smartphone. Mapsource can transfer your maps and route(s) to any Garmin navigation device for use in autorouting.

Ken in Regina
If you are interested in trying out Mapsource for free, here's how to do it:

1. Download Garmin's Training Centre and install it.

2. Download the latest Mapsource update and install it.

3. Uninstall the Training Centre. You only needed it so the Mapsource update would install. You're done with it now.

4. Now you need a map for Mapsource. Otherwise it's not much use.

You have some options. Here are a couple of links to help you find some free Garmin-compatible maps. For your testing you'll want something that has autorouting data in it. Many of the free maps don't.

Search free Garmin maps by location

You can get more hits if you use the search term "free garmin maps".

By the way, these are not illegal. The Garmin map format is quite well documented and there are lots of people out there who have been making Garmin-compatible maps and sharing them, just like freeware software. However, if you do your own search and see torrent downloads with Garmin product names on them, THAT'S definitely illegal.

You know, I already own MapSource North America, but never thought to use it. I only use it on my Map60CSX. I'm going to have to give it a try. Thank you.
Ken in Regina
That's great that you already have it. Simplifies the trial greatly! Let me know what you think. If you have any questions about it, just holler. Although it's not as deep as Streets&Trips in some ways, it's a pretty powerful app in its own right. For some things it's way easier to use than S&T.

...ken... About