Monday, April 29, 2013

Microsoft Streets and Trips…

imageI 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!!!

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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:

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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?

19 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great information. We use Streets and Trips, but not very well. I still haven't figured out how to get the POI's. I just don't seem to have the patience anymore to learn new things, but I think I'll see what I can learn today!

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    1. the megafile poi that i linked above when downloaded is actually a map template that you can simply open and use to map from - first thing to do is hide the pushpins that are visible to assist you in using it

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    2. Geeks on Tour offer easy tutorial videos which show you easily how to add the POI file.

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    3. "I still haven't figured out how to get the POI's."

      Hi Karen and Al - this tutorial video on using POI's may be helpful for you.

      http://youtu.be/CMzLNr3qzYk

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  2. Streets and trips is a fantastic program we have used since 2007. Even before the POI so Suzie spent a long time making our own file over the years. Excellent for planning and she uses it with the GPS for navigating (telling me where to go).
    Even worked awesome in Mexico as well.
    Also Goggle maps is great for other functions like you mentioned.

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  3. Streets and Trips is a magnificent tool. I've used POI Factory and the Discovery users site but not the one you mentioned. I'll be checking that one out shortly.

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  4. We use the Rand McNally Navigator for RV's. Plus I sometimes check details on Mapquest. It is a quick way to get mileage in advance or traffic while on the road. We started using the ap on the Android phone, but if we lost Verizon connection it was also lost. Now we use the phone for local run arounds when in towns so we don't have to move the Navigator. I also look at hard copy maps! I guess I'm old fashioned. But we seldom get lost.

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  5. I use streets and trips when planning much as you do. I do love it, but haven't updated in some time. Guess I should. I also use the POI. I am not adept at getting that thing in the right place, so I just have to keep saving and re saving my current project by a different name so it is in there. Google maps I do love as well, especially now with the ipad resolution. So good for seeing things up close and also the bigger picture. Thanks for writing about this.

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  6. Very informative review of something we need to learn more about. We do not have a Garmin or stand alone GPS unit or any purchased software. We have only used two navigation aids since we started full-timing: the Google Navigation app on my droid phone and a trucker's atlas. I do all of the navigation while Vic drives. Half the time we are pulling out of a campground when I realize I should find out which way to go. We plan destinations vs. routes. We do have a beautiful book called The Most Scenic Drives in America that we consult for ideas of places we want to see, but these roads are often better for the toad than the motorhome. For finding things like Trader Joe's and Costco, I simply type it in my navigation app and it shows the closest one. We do use the satellite feature quite a bit on the Nav app to see how curvy a road is, to evaluate a gas station's layout, or to preview a campground. I now have an i-Pad, but haven't found a Nav app I like for it.

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  7. Great post Heyduke. Thanks a lot. We have an older copy of Streets and Trips that we didn't find very useful but you are making me wonder if I should get a newer copy. How long do they allow you to update for free to keep it current before there is a "newer better version" that you'll need to go out and buy. Right now we use google maps and map nav on my droid along with directions from the park we are going to. But having something more sensitive to the needs of our motorhome rather than a toad would be better.

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    1. I have looked at both Microsoft S&T 2011 and 2013 and in my opinion there isn't a huge difference between the two, but I just got 2013 so I may not have discovered the goodies...

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  8. Good info. I have a 2011 version. The mega file tells me I need a newer version to open it. Boy, I wouldn't think so... will keep trying and see what I come up with.

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  9. Are you smarter than a 5th grader? OK, I figured it out. Look for your version of S&Ts when you download. The first two downloads, zip and unzipped, are for S&Ts 2013 edition. Further down you'll see zip and unzipped files for 2011 and so on. This is GREAT stuff. Many thanks...

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    1. hah, loved it... congrats on graduating!

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  10. We love Streets & Trips. It has helped us find some great campgrounds. It's the best planning toul. How did you add your map with the stops to your blog? It looks great.

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    1. under the edit menu I used the copy map feature and then edited it in photoshop - Ctrl+shift+C does the same copy routine...

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  11. With your trips, you have created a smiley face around the United States!!!

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  12. 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

    I'm not finding this, and I would really like to know about bridges. Could you please expand on where this pick is? Good post!

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    1. it is in the megafile POI overlay, download it and turn on its pushpin set...

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