I thought I had written a blog about Microsoft Streets and Trips before but after looking back at our past blogs I found that I had barely mentioned some of the virtues of using this mapping product. So this time I am going to devote a whole blog to one of the most useful mapping tools we use in our full timing adventures… Microsoft Streets and Trips!
When we first started full timing in an RV I was primarily using Google Maps as my our tool for travel planning. As useful as Google Maps is I was always looking for other products to assist us in ensuring that we wouldn’t encounter any travel hazards while hauling our 27,000 pound, 12 foot 8 inch tall rig along with our towed vehicle throughout this fine country of ours. Then one day I was offered a copy of a mapping tool for planning our future travels - Microsoft Streets and Trips! And since this discovery it has assisted us in travels from Texas to the Florida Keys all the way up to Maine and back again to Texas. It helped us again leaving Texas to the west through Las Vegas up to Washington State and then down the west coast to San Diego. And recently it helped us get from San Diego back to Texas and now to where we are in North Carolina. We love our Microsoft Streets and Trips!
What do we like most about Microsoft Streets and Trips?
- it is not a very complex software application so it is very easy to use
- it assists in our travels by the use of overlay files that point out such things as bridges too low for our rig and other significant items of interest
- it has a USB plug-in GPS device that can be useful to verify routes and locations
- it is wonderful in travel planning by allowing a lot of “what if’s” – such as what if we stayed here what route would it take us to get to our next location…
- it can be kept private by the safeguards of our own computer unlike Google… but then of course we tell everyone where we are going in a blog anyhow :)
- one of the biggest plusses is that it works offline on a laptop when we are not near any cellular signals
- it provides us the opportunity to use a much larger screen than we would get on a smartphone GPS or Garmin GPS
- it provides free for the lifetime of the software updates on construction happenings which is very useful for our travels
- it is really good for planning day trips in showing us options available for driving loops to and from a destination
As mentioned above one of the big reason’s I love this program is with the addition of overlay files called POI’s. POI are files that overlay items such as state parks, low bridges, restaurants, banks or any other “Points of Interest” you can imagine as long as someone has taken the time to plot them all on a map. The very best POI is the POI Megafile. This continuously updated files provides overlays of a huge of assortment of POI’s including state parks, freightliner and caterpillar service centers, camping worlds and even the arbitrary POI’s such as In and Out Burgers and Trader Joe locations. Sweeeet!!!
Now don’t get me wrong we still use Google Maps but now we use it as a supplement with for us its most useful feature is the ability to put it on Satellite Mode to get down to the Street View and see what we might encounter in tight spots. Funny fact is when you go to street view of our old house in Google Maps and look real close at the front door you can see Sharon shaking out our carpets (look at above photo at front door - Hah! Google caught her…).
Also we use Google Maps street view to check out new campsites and if we can’t use street view (like where we are now) we use the Satellite Mode to get a feel for what we can expect at our next location see below:
Since it is great sharing information, do any of you use this software? What do you use if you don’t use it? If you do use it what do you like best about it?