Route planning software needed to plan our 6 month road trip
My family and I are embarking on a 6 month road trip at the end of February. Although we will have some WiFi access along the way, we may have periods of time where we are offline. We have used nRoute for many years and although we love the product and functionality, the maps are way outdated and it seems we cannot purchase updated maps. As happy Garmin users, we purchased Garmin Mobile PC, but upon installation realized that the user interface was frustrating and the route planning options limited. We did some research, and purchased iGuidance instead, but the product does not allow for inputting of personal POI and the route planning is even more frustrating! The fact that you can only seach for POI within 40km is really not working for us.

From a useability standpoint, we would like to be able to look at the map of the state or area where we are going and see what the POIs are in the area, then select the ones we want and add them to a route. We also want to be able to rename existing POIs, to add our own POIs, and to be able to see the info related to a POI (i.e., the name, description) on the map or when you point to the POI. In Mobile PC, it just shows up as a series of pushpins, but if I can't remember which one is which and we are visiting 20 POIs in one state, it gets very confusing.

Can you help us? If we want to be able to plan our routes easily before we leave and then click and drag to modify routes as we find new things to add enroute, what software is our best bet. I have read alot in the forums, and am now confused. It sounds like none of the PC GPS software is very good. What would you recommend? We already have a small USB GPS. Thanks so much!
I would definitely recommend Streets and Trips 2010, but make sure it is 2010. Best to check it out as a full-functioning, free download directly from Microsoft.

For a long-complex trip like this, S&T has a highlighting tool that allows you to 'draw' a route with your mouse, more-or-less freehand. It continuously shows the mileage represented by the length of the highlight line. You can draw multiple days each as separate highlight lines and color them individually to give you a good picture of what you are doing day-by-day. You can also alter the points on the line to rearrange your projected route.

When you've settled on a route you like, you can zoom in close to the highlight line and click on POIs for stops and overnighters to incorporate them into your route and then let the software compute a route for you.

But I would definitely start-off with the highlighter tool so that you do not get your map cluttered up with route lines and stops that you may or may not want.
Ken in Regina
Originally Posted by 4:Exploring!
... We have used nRoute for many years and although we love the product and functionality, the maps are way outdated and it seems we cannot purchase updated maps.
Garmin Alternative One:

Well, let's start with that. If you don't mind a wee bit of work you can buy new Garmin maps and get them to work with nRoute.

First a tiny bit of technical info. The reason Garmin says their new maps won't work with nRoute is that they have changed the format of the maps. Without some technical massaging they won't work with nRoute because nRoute doesn't know how to find them and use them.

But that's not the end of the world.

There is a program called ReverseMapConverter that will convert the new maps back into the format that nRoute understands. It's relatively painless if you're interested.

Garmin Alternative Two:

Let's go a step further. Let's assume when you say you love nRoute and the functionality you really mean you love the combination of nRoute and Mapsource for planning and navigation. If that's true, then you can still go the Garmin route using Mobile PC. You would need to buy Mobile PC and also a new set of Mapsource maps. This would allow you to use the latest version of Mapsource for all your planning and then transfer the routes to Mobile PC.

That would allow you to do all the stuff you can do now, in pretty much the same way you do it now (the latest version of Mapsource is prettier but it works the same as ever), but you could do it with Garmin's new maps without having to do a hack to convert them to the old format. You would need to use Mobile PC for the navigation because nRoute can't read the new map format without conversion. But Mobile PC's display for navigation is really pretty compared to nRoute.

Non-Garmin Alternative One:

Download the free trial version of Microsoft Streets&Trips and see if you can adjust your Garmin-warped brains to Microsoft's way of doing things (it can be a shock for those of us who cut our teeth on Garmin's Mapsource but it's do-able ). The trial version is the real deal; fully functional. It simply dies after 60 days if you don't purchase the activation code.

Streets&Trips is a very powerful trip planning tool. It's interface is way different than Mapsource/nRoute so it does take some getting used to for us folks who have grown up with the Garmin stuff. But for some of the things you mentioned it could be even easier to do some of it than Mapsource.

Microsoft and Garmin use the same map data supplier (Navteq) for their North America maps so you will get the same maps and the same POIs from either vendor.

Thanks so much for your help! We downloaded Microsoft Streets and Trips today and it turns out that I actually have a Microsoft-warped brain and the software is wonderful - highly intuitive and functional. It will meet all of our needs and with the iGuidance we already bought as back-up, we should be off and running. Our only question now is what are the differences between MapPoint and Streets and Trips? They seem much the same, but we would be willing to pay the extra cost for MapPoint if there are some extra functions that might be useful. What do you think?

I defer to the Forum Members who are more familiar with MapPoint than I, but wouldn't think you would need its incremental features.

But you've got 60 days to play around with Streets & Trips and decide; have fun!
Marvin Hlavac
I think the very first or second paragraph of our review of Microsoft MapPoint does actually mention the differences between the two products. About