Mapping Alternatives For Bloggers (And New Wheelingit Maps!)
Pre-post note -> I had NO IDEA so many people were interested in boondocking “glamping”. Thanks so much for the amazing number of clicks and comments on my last post. You guys are obviously all people of style 🙂 The following post won’t interest nearly as many people, but for those of you who are interested in my new maps and/or creating travel maps for your own blog, read on…
I’m a lover of maps and I’ve been logging our travel routes & stops in detail since we started RVing in 2010 using Google MyMaps. Each year I start a new map and I keep a record of all previous years in our “journey” page. They’re a total pain in the backside to keep up with, but I love having them there to look back at and (sometimes) remind me of the routes we took. So they’re partly for me, partly for my blog readers.
But…as with all things Google….things are always changing.
Google Maps -> Always Changing
Google is notorious for updating/upgrading/changing/deleting things on a whim. I honestly can’t complain given that their stuff is FREE, but every now and then the “upgrades” make me cringe. I’ve always created my maps by dropping pins & drawing routes using the line tool (like THIS). The last set of Google upgrades in 2014 made route drawing much more tricky (the line tool just seems to be soooo hard/finnicky to use now), and (more importantly) all my blog post links which I’d diligently added to every waypoint marker somehow magically “disappeared” (the text is still there, but no clickable link).
I wasn’t the only one having problems either. Several of my blogger friends were reporting similar issues and/or running into waypoint limits when mapping driving directions (the new limit is 10). Google Maps is still a fabulous tool (and the one I would recommend for most folks), but this got me thinking about mapping alternatives for bloggers & how to reduce my own personal dependence on Google so that I’m not at the whim of their every last change.
Basically I needed a brand new mapping program.
Simple Mapping Alternatives For Your Blog
Now, I’m not an easy woman to please when it comes to stuff like this. What I wanted was a program that could handle unlimited stops, was clickable, zoomable & interactive (for the blog reader), could link to my blog posts, could show routes, and was either free or inexpensive. I looked through a TON of options, starting with the simplest ones first:
WordPress Plugins -> There are LOTS of wordpress plugin-type apps such as NomadWorldMap, SimpleTravelMap, MapifyIt, GeoMashUp etc. most of which display/run ontop of Google Maps, but give you a much easier/simpler interface for integrating into your blog. The problem is that most of them are limited to showing simple markers (no routing) or markers with “dumb” routers (just a straight or curved line from one point to the next). They’re great for folks who just want a really simple/easy map on their blog, but none of them met my requirements.
Online Mapping Programs -> There are several big online mapping guys that other bloggers use to create interactive maps which they then insert into their blog. Examples are ZeeMaps, TravellersPoint, and MapMe. The interfaces are snazzy and easy to use, the maps look really sleek, and integration into blogs/social media is easy. However most have the same limitation as the Wordpress plugins listed above. I can create nice, pretty maps, but just not with the route detail and level of customization I want. Also most of these (not all) still rely on Google Maps for display.
Fully Customizable Alternative to Google Maps
Feeling myself at an impasse I got onto Facebook and posted the question to some of my tech buddies there. After a lengthy discussion I was introduced to something totally new (for me) -> OpenStreetMap (a free, openly licensed map of the world being created by volunteers OR/ to put it another way NOT Google Maps) and uMap (a free, open source program to create interactive maps with OpenStreetMap). I immediately found myself in a love, hate relationship.
- Love -> The things I loved about this set-up was no reliance on Google Maps, completely Open Source, completely customizable (routes, markers, inputs, display etc.).
- Hate -> The thing that scared me was that uMaps was NOT AT ALL intuitive to use.
Let me tell you right now. If you are not open to a pretty steep learning curve (with little documentation to support you) this is NOT the program for you. Unless you’re absolutely set on becoming Google-free and looking for the same level of detailed (and rather OCD) type of customization that I want you are much better off sticking with plain ‘ol Google Maps or going with one of the simpler programs I listed above. Trust me on this.
That said if you’re as obsessive as I am, hard-headed and are somewhat techie, this is IMHO the most customizable non-Google-reliant mapping program out there. Also, if you already have lots of maps created in Google Maps they are super simple to import and customize (once you understand the bleedin’ program), and you can layer stuff (much like Photoshop) to create different legs of a journey, different years of a journey, different looks of a journey etc. Plus you can add blog post links, pictures, slideshows etc. Aaaand the interface is rocking fast. This program doesn’t offer everything, but it’s pretty darn sweet!
How To Create A Map in uMap
The only way I was able to get started in this program was because another blogger Mike, from Life Rebooted, was kind enough to write a detailed blog post on how he creates maps in uMap. He actually imports data from his Garmin RV760 GPS, which is kinda cool, but I don’t have one of those so he also included info on how to import from Google Maps (at the bottom of the post). I’m not going to write my own “how to”. Instead, for those of you aspiring to do what I did, I am going to refer you to his most excellent blog post: Creating Route Maps with OpenStreetMap. Seriously if you want to do this, go and read it.
Other good links for uMap creators:
Wiki Link Info-> http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/UMap
Open Street Map Forums -> uMap latest features (as of Aug, 2014)
The New WheelingIt Maps
Having now messed around with uMap for several days I’ve been able to import everything I used to have in Google to create some new & interesting maps.
WheelingIt Campground Map
The first is something I’ve wanted to do for ages, but have never been able to do easily in Google. A complete USA-wide map of every single campground review I’ve done since we started RVing in 2010. I plan to update this map yearly. The map is interactive with links to the blog post reviews included. I’ve color-coded our stops too:
PURPLE = public campgrounds (State Park, National Forest, COE, County etc.)
PINK = private campgrounds
GREEN = boondocking spots
AQUA = marina campgrounds
Upgraded WheelingIt Travel Maps
I’ve translated our 2012, 2013, 2014 travel maps to the uMap program/system. You can see each of them in our Journey Page. Blog post links are now active for each and every stop, so you can click on any marker and see the posts I wrote about the area right there, plus you can zoom and study our routing. I’ve yet to start our 2015 map (and I’m still unsure if I’m going to do it directly in uMap or map in Google & just export/import as we go), but I’ll get there eventually.
That’s it folks! Not a post for everyone, but hopefully some of you will benefit and the rest of you can just enjoy the new maps.SPONSORED LINK:
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this blog post may be affiliate links, so, if you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a commission. Amazon, the Amazon logo, AmazonSupply, and the AmazonSupply logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. WheelingIt is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
We’re just getting started so I hadn’t really thought about a mapping program to track where we’ve been (other than the map I have on facebook that marks the states our dog has ‘claimed’ by marking them). I love the idea of having a record of where we’ve been, not including where we are right at the moment. I’m going to start experimenting with some of your suggestions. I really appreciate the list!
Cool! Hope you find a program that works for you.
Thank you! I’ve been going crazy over Google maps new changes! I’ve loved your maps (and the Lowes) so I’ve tried to create ours. And I’m a bit OCD, too, so I can’t wait to dive in!
Excellent. This project sounds like JUST the right one for you then. You’ll enjoy the OCD side of it 🙂
I like maps and creating our route/reviews/post using Google maps. And yes the latest Google upgrade was a pain in the butt and I m not paying just to get 10 layers. I did tinker with Travellers Point but was not impressed with it so did not use it.
And I also like your new “Master Map” which I had been wanting to do now to consolidate all our trips.
I have not created our 2015 map, so I might just tinker and play with uMap. It might just have the flexibility that Steve(the planner) and I have been looking for. Thank you again for all your neat new ideas.
I’m thinking uMap will be right up Steve’s Alley. It’s a nice, customizable tool. Hope you enjoy it.
Furry Gnome says
Well it looks like one of the most interesting and useful posts to me! Not a RVer, but love your blog. And I do use maps a lot, nd would love to be able to do maps like this. I’m going to go over your post in detail and see what I can learn. Thanks!
Cool! I’m glad at least a few folks find the post interesting. Lots of different options for mapping depending how “crazy” you want to get on customization. Enjoy!
Jenny Waters says
Thanks for posting this, I was thinking of asking you how to make a map like your journey maps. That overall map is nice for planning. I am kind of surprised there aren’t more boondocking spots on it, since you boondock so often. I guess you must go back to the same good spots over and over? I think when we start RVing we might just stay at a bunch of your reviewed spots for a while. There are so many, you make it easy. 🙂
We do tend to go back to the same spots over and over. Also we didn’t start boondocking in earnest until a few years ago, so although we seem like “pros” it’s probably only the last 2 years that we’ve gone “all out” on winter boondocking. I also have to admit that there are about a handful of boondocking sites I haven’t reviewed either because they were secrets given to me by others (and they asked me to keep them secret), or private property. So, there’s a few locations we’ve stayed which are not on the map.
Bob Burton says
Thank you for all of the time that you have spent helping others. So valuable to those of us who haven’t been to some of these areas yet.
Dave Davis says
Loved your post. I’ve been looking for maps other than google, Thank You
Cool! I’m glad I’m not the only one. Looks like several other folks have been looking for alternatives.
Thank you for doing the research. I Love Maps! Started drawing pink highlighter lines on maps decades ago and now can’t let the tattered things go. Also tried Google Maps and was unsatisfied. I’ll give Mike’s ‘how to’ a read.
Hope you find what you’re looking for Gaelyn! It’s a pain to do these maps, but I do love having them.
Nina, this is GREAT! It’s pretty much just what I needed! I haven’t yet gone into the details, but I can tell it’s exactly what I want! I LOVE the idea of having a nation-wide map with ‘all pins showing’ that one can then zoom in on, showing all the camp grounds either we know about, or YOU know about (so I can then use your blogs for further info!). I just hope I can climb that steep learning curve. We’re about to set off on a 7-week RV trip via LA to Arizona, Lake Mead and Death Valley, and many of the destinations will be based on your great reviews. Thanks as always.
Hope you find something that’ll work for you! If uMaps is too complicated for you, have a look at some of the other programs I mentioned and/or Google MyMaps (which is still a great program, despite the constant changes).
Here are the instructions for Google MyMaps:
Dave (GoingRvWay.com) says
I too love these type of maps, and I too have been frustrated by Google’s upgrade. Will definately have to check this out and most likely transfer everything over into this type of map. Thanks a bunch for the information. –Dave (GoingRvWay.com)
I have to admit that once I figured out how to use uMap I was very impressed. It’s a nifty program with lots of customization options.
Lynne (WinnieViews) says
Love your new Camping Map Nina! I saw Mike’s post but had not yet had a chance to play around with uMaps. Will keep it on my radar for the future though– love the look of them!
Curiously, when Google updated my “classic” Camping Map ( https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=zlkP-vtTBFVo.kM6eRp9OKBsk ) to New Maps, all my embedded URLs still remained clickable, and they brought the icons I used with Classic (that are no longer avail in New) over to the upgraded map as well. Don’t have a clue how many POIs I’ll be able to add to this map, but it’s around 100 so far I think.
Whenever I do hit Google’s mysterious limit, looks like I’ll be able to export this as a KML and import it into a uMap (fingers crossed!). Thanks for posting this (and urging Mike to do a detailed how-to post)!
So, interestingly enough the same thing happened to me, but only for the older portion of my maps. My 2010 and 2011 maps which were in the “classic” version of Google Maps upgraded with all the icons and blog links intact. However my newer 2013 and 2014 maps which were in some other version of Google Maps (who knows which one) lost all the links in the upgrade process. Each map “upgraded” in a slightly different way. Argh!
So, who knows? Since you’re still using the map you started in the original “classic” version you’ll probably be fine for a good while (until whatever other upgrade they decide to do in the future). Glad it’s still working for you!
Thanks for the beautiful maps. And seeing where you’ve been is impressive and daunting. We haven’t started full-timing yet. or even half-timing. I’ll be retiring this year (?), and seeing all the places you’ve been is giving us inspiration.
Cool! A big part of my blog is to provide folks with inspiration, so I’m glad you’re getting that. Thanks for following along!
Caryl~marie Kirk says
Dang Gurl: You are so DANG generous and mind-boggingly timely. My frustration with Google Maps was the same as yours. I decide there HAD to be something else out there and I would do some further searching once I HAD to do the maps. [Remember, we are at the BIG-INNING here on our own journey and I’m still organizing the blog stuff and need to JUST get it going. OH…then, there’s the age dif….;)…I’ve just learned that [since I’m OCD also] you must stop at some point and I’ve finally learned how … to some degree! Or, I’d prbably die during yet another retry!] Anyway, timely this is! THANK YOU SO MUCH, NINA! Your blog is such an inspiration and I hope that you will allow me to backlink to your blog.
PS Now that you’ve thrown out the gauntlet I can hardly wait to try the ‘steep learning curve’…be assured I will probably need some help.
Hopefully this will help narrow down the choices for you and not send the OCD into overdrive (I KNOW how that is!). I still spent way more time than I should have on all these maps, but I’m happy with the results. I guess that justifies it? lOL
john H says
I have always used Microsoft’s Streets and Trips but now that it has been discontinued I will be in search of a new mapping tool… uMaps looks to be a fine choice…
Sadly, I think you may be disappointed. I’m not sure uMaps can replace Microsoft Street and Trips. It’s more of a record tool (for recording past travels and spots in an interactive, online way) rather than a planning tool especially when it comes to routing, although for planning specific spots that you might like to see it could work (the layers feature would allow you to separate and color-code your interests). Unfortunately, nothing really matches that old Microsoft program (so sad they discontinued it!).
If you’re looking for planning stuff Google Maps is still the best option I know out there, despite the 10-point limit on driving directions. I’ve also heard good things about the software version of Delorme Street Atlas. I’ve never used it myself, but I know several RVers who switched to that after S&T was discontinued.
Jodee Gravel says
Don’t know that I’ll use the mapping program, but I most certainly will use your new campsite map! Thank you so much for all the work you put into these helpful resources – and for so generously sharing them with your readers. Sometimes I think the folks at Google and ITunes (don’t get me started) each have a team dedicated to messing with users….I feel like a research animal 🙁
Yeah, I mean all of us use Google and they really have some great stuff, but I do go a bit bananas with all the changes. I think I’ve seen at least 5 different versions of Google Maps since we started RVing. Every “switch” I kept worrying I would lose all my maps.
I love those clickable maps! Hopefully the uMap platform will be more stable than Google. My only suggestion: unless you are planning to replace The Beast with a yacht and add a ton of marina sites, change The Lone Aqua to blue—otherwise it stands out like a sore thumb.
Oops sorry, I meant pink, not blue
I’ll think about it. I kinda like those little Marina Campgrounds sticking out like that (which is why I made them Aqua in the first place), but we’ll see.
Bob Martel says
Hey Nina, After I started playing around with uMaps the other day, my wife found this Wiki page with some interesting links and information. I’ve not studied this yet and some are in French (so please don’t hold me responsible for quality control,) but I am posting here nonetheless so that the information about uMaps is all in one place on your blog.
Thanks Bob! I’ve used that exact page, but somehow forgot to include it when I wrote the post. It’s one of the few pieces of documentation out there for uMap so it’s important to link it.
One more link which I forgot to include is to the OpenStreetMap forums which also has some stuff on it. Every now and then one of the developers will write a uMap feature update on there. Plus, you can ask questions and get support too! For example this one:
Two important links for anyone using the program. Sorry I forgot them! I’ll update my blog post later today or tomorrow to add them.
Updated the post to add the missing links.
Eric Rondeau says
Hi Nina, Great information. Have you looked at AAA TripTiks? You have to be a member but it sure has worked wonders for us.
That looks more like a planning tool rather than an interactive map record tool. Doesn’t really suit what I was looking for here. This blog post was specifically about making a record of your past travels and sharing those with others. For planning future trips I still use Google Maps. Sorry if I didn’t make that clear!
Jim and Barb says
I think you are going to be surprised by the number of people interested in this topic. We went from Google Maps to travellerspoint point recently. Although it does not have the routing I was used to it was the best map that I could find at the time that allowed the number of points we needed. I have never thought about linking pictures or blog posts. Thanks for the information I will have to work on updating to Umap!
I AM kind of amazed by the interest. In a way it’s good to know I’ve not been the only one struggling with this!
Mary Hone says
I like the look of that, and the routes is pretty cool. I have a Google maps plug in on my blog and have been pretty happy with it. No problems, knock on wood. It’s always nice to find out about new stuff though.
The Google Maps plugin is quite nifty for those folks sticking with Google Maps. I checked it out as part of my research, but just didn’t mention it. Thanks for bringing it up.
There seems to be an Oregon state campground missing on the 2014 map between Eugene, Oregon and Washoe Lake, Nevada. It is a beautiful place along a great river. We were there and decided to respect privacy. Is this just an over site or one of those secret spots? Just wondering! We were fulltime some years ago and will be again next year. Thanks to your wonderful informative blog it will be much easier. Next month Los Algodones here we come.
Thank You sooo Much!!!
Yup, that’s actually not due to any secrets but simply because I didn’t do a campground review. We stayed at Valley Of The Rogue State Park for a single night while traveling from Eugene to Washoe Lake in the late fall of 2014. We arrived in the late afternoon and left the next AM so I simply didn’t have time to do a review (it takes several hours to go around and shoot all the sites, write the detailed review etc.). So, that’s the only reason it’s not on the camping map. Good eye and good catch! Oh, and thanks for respecting privacy. We were all pretty wiped that afternoon.
We really enjoyed that park though and when/if we go back for a longer stay I definitely want to review it!
Beats my color-coded highlighter in the Rand McNally Atlas for sure! We’re part-time boondockers who started using your reviews last year. We greatly appreciate your imparted knowledge and entertaining writing style. Please don’t stop anytime soon.
Nothing wrong with good old fashioned paper maps (I love them!), but they are a tad tougher to share online with blog readers LOL. Rock on!
Thank you for posting the maps! Our first time go the SE. Currently exploring NM then heading to AZ in a week or so. Your boondock spots will come in very handy for us!
Sounds like a fine trip. Enjoy!
Bob McQuade says
Have you ever looked at Scribble Maps? I too became frustrated with Google Maps and have been pretty happy with Scribble maps. I just finished my 2014 travels map (http://ramcquade.com/?page_id=7079 )if you want to take a look. My 2015 map should be a little better since I plan to keep up with it more on a daily basis whereas I did 2014 on more of a yearend, looking back basis, thus less detail.
I’m always discovering new things with the app, such as how to include a link in the marker text ( that I just discovered after reading your blog today and so I went looking for how to do it ). Anyhow, since you say your new way is not terribly intuitive and a little difficult to pick up, some of your readers may like Scribble Maps since it was simple enough that even I found I could handle it.
PS Just missed you in LaPush last summer but still hope to run into somewhere down the road
Thanks for the link Bob! This program did not turn up in my research so thanks for including it. Looks like it satisfies pretty much all of my requirements and would be a great alternative for other bloggers. I’m going to stick with uMap since I’ve already invested so much time into it, but it really looks like ScribbleMaps would work well for most folks.
Thanks again! Your maps look great!
Thanks! I’m going to try this before I attempt to dive into Umaps! I’m so frustrated at google maps…
Gail Docter says
Oh, I love this post!! A lovely clickable map where beastly sized homes on wheels can fit–what a treat!
I noticed you two started in 2010, the same year we did. Funny the different paths we’ve taken. We’ve hit some of the same spots, but we’ve visited all 49 states that our rig can go, and spent more time in the Midwest where our girls live. We’ll be in Florida this winter and next–I’m loving all your desert sunset photos. Nothing compares…
Indeed. Our map is very “western” focused LOL. Easy to see where our priorities lie. We’ve yet to visit most of the Midwest, especially the Great Lakes. It’s a big gap that I definitely want to fill at some point.
Thanks for the post Nina. I have been pulling my hair out with the latest Google Maps “upgrade”. I had previously used Roadtrippers, because I like the interface and it allowed 40 waypoints. But I found because it wasn’t based on Google Maps so much of the database was inaccurate. The locations were often just not in the right place. Have you seen any problems like that with OpenStreet Maps.
Thanks I will fiddle around with some of the tools mentioned here.
Your question regarding the accuracy of the underlying map is an excellent one. OpenStreetMap (OSM) has impressed me so far. OSM seems to have a solid number of people supporting it and is being used by some pretty big companies too (Foursquare, Wikipedia, Craigslist and even Apple all dropped Google for OSM back in 2012). From all the research I’ve done on this OSM is *THE* alternative to Google and it seems to be growing rather than waning in popularity. So, I believe the future for OSM is bright.
That said there is no doubt at all that Google is the bigger mapping company with (by far) the biggest number of users, and the companies that have dropped Google in the past could easily get lured back by pretty pricing deals. For my purposes OSM is more than adequate. We’ll have to see how it stands the test of time going forward.
Here’s a few articles and links for you to read:
Very good and important question, Kate! The stability/durability of the underlying map data should be something everyone looks at before they jump into a mapping program.
I love…love…love this….I love that all I have to do is go to your map…click on a spot find a campground and/or article about the area…haven’t a clue how it is done but not my thing but the results are just great…thanks…
Yeah this program would definitely not be for you Jil, but I’m glad you can enjoy the results 🙂
Nice work! Have you thought of doing a years travel in one color of ink on a route. And a new color of ink come Jan 1st every year?
Yup. Actually when I first imported all my stuff over from Google that’s actually exactly what I did. I put each year on a different “layer” and color coded them individually. I found the resulting map a little too messy for my liking, so I haven’t actually included it as one of the options in the blog, but I’m still playing around with it and if works out to my liking I’ll publish it.
The nice thing about uMap is that once you have all your data in it making customizations like this is a snap. So, I’ve got lots of play options going forward.
Hi Nina, thanks for another great informative post. I always say, if you want to know something, then lots of other people do too. I have been a bit obsessed and frustrated with maps over the past month, it’s all your fault LOL, because that is where I got the idea from. I have been making a map of all the places I read about in other people’s blogs – attractions and camping spots for future travels. I’m already onto my second map having run out of layers/POI on my first one on Google MyMaps, so not happy. Looking forward to having a play with OpenStreetMap, it looks very clean. Had to laugh when I did maps of our previous travels, it looks like a dogs breakfast, especially as I couldn’t get the polygon to work and mine has numbers at each stop. Clicked on the Scribble Map from Bob, but it doesn’t show on an iPad, so not very practical.
For what you’re looking to do I think uMap will work beautifully for you. It’s a great tool for recording spots you’ve visited and/or want to visit in the future. Also, you can use the “layer” option to separate (and color code) your wish list…for example one layer for campgrounds you want to go to, one layer for attractions, one layer for photography sites, one layer for hikes etc. plus you can put in links to where you read about that spot in the “description” box, so it’s easy to go back and find the original source of your info. The only thing uMap really doesn’t do well (yet) is routing (you can manually plot routes, but not much else) but for everything else it’s great. I think you’ll like it.
Rick Reichert says
Wonderful work! I may try to this for our trip log.
So far I’ve been using Microsoft Streets and Trips (2010), but just for trip planning purposes. I like that you can set how many hours you want to drive per day, and your estimated speed on different types of roads. This ends up being very useful to plan a trip – especially when driving an RV or towing a trailer and you can’t go as fast as in a car. However, the program does not calculate miles “per leg”, but instead provides the cumulative miles traveled. Not a really big deal but does require using a calculator to manually subtract to get miles per leg. Google Maps is fine for seeing different routes, but the estimated travel time is way off since you can’t adjust your average speed, at least as far as I can tell. I’ll check out some of the other possibilities mentioned above. Great thread!!!!
For planning purposes the routing side of uMaps is not solid enough for what you need IMHO. You can manually plot routes, but things like mileage, drive time, low tunnels and other such details are lacking. Sadly that remains the specialty of things like S&T, Google and other planning programs. So, you may not find what you need here, at least on that side. I love uMaps for keeping a record of our historical travels, but I would not use it for drive trip planning.
For planning travel I do know several companies like AAA and Good Sams offer tools specifically for this purpose. Good Sams in particular, although I’ve never used them myself, seems to get a lot of good reviews from RVers.You may want to check ’em out:
As Time Goes....Bye says
Thanks Nina for this valuable info. You must’ve seen my horrendous attempt at adding a map to our blog recently. I do so enjoy reading your posts. – Gayle
I missed it! Now I’m going to have to go back and see it.
Sherry in MT says
Oh I don’t know, any of us blogging about our travels will love this post. I hear you about “open source” programs. Every time someone in our corporate world says “we need to use open source” my ears bleed! Great if you don’t need documentation. I’ll definitely be poking around with this when I start some of my albeit, short journeys though and I WILL be using your journeys as information for my travel planning when it overlaps where you’ve been.
Yup, documentation is always the tough part with Open Source. It’s one of the things that initially scared me about this, and I have to admit it DID take me a bit of learning time to get comfortable with the program. That said, the great thing about Open Source is the flexibility….you can do just about anything IF you can figure out how to do it 🙂
Mike Davidson says
OMG What serendipitous timing! Just hours before you posted, I had remembered seeing your previously posted annual route maps and was searching your blog hoping for a tutorial.
I too am a bit OCD regarding mapping. I used the powerful ARCGIS software in my forestry career and loved all the great tools for display. I’m careful not to expect that level of performance here.
I went immediately to umap and signed up, then created something quick from a gpx file I had available. http://geocacheoregon.com/?p=2035
I really like umap so far and anticipate hours of “fiddling”! I’m a die-hard fan of geocaching since 2004 and love to place maps of geocaching excursions in my above linked blog. To date, they have only been static snipped images from google or google earth. This will be a great way to start using interactive maps instead.
Thanks for the time and energy you put into describing your process!
BTW, we start fulltiming it in fall 2015. Joining the circuit!
Sweeeet! Looks like you’re a natural at this. By the way we’ve been doing a fabulous Geocache series by our RV this past week. There’s over 40 of them here in a big 3-mile circuit, going through each of the US Presidents and giving fun & unusual facts about each one everytime you find one. This is probably my 2nd favorite Geocache series that I’ve done. My all-time favorite one was the Alien Head near the Extraterrestrial Hwy in Nevada (yes, I’m an alien/space nerd).
Geocaching always takes me to interesting places & teaches me new things. I try to pick up a few finds everywhere we go.
Mike Davidson says
Sounds like a great cache series! I’m anxious to do some caching as we begin our travels. We’ve followed Technomadia for some time now and caught wind of your blog from their blog roll. When you all were at Cape Blanco we hoped to meet up (we live in Coos Bay) given common interests of geocaching, hiking and for my wife, photography)but just couldn’t break away from the grind. Another time I hope!
Totally understand! We may or may not go back to Cape Blanco this year (still haven’t decided), but if we get back to the area we can try to connect.
Karen @ Sock Monkey Trekkers from NM says
I’m sharing this with Greg. He has created a map with links to campsite reviews and resources. He is using google maps at this point. It has been a great resource tool for us. Thanks again for the great post.
Great. If Google is still working well for you it’s probably easiest to just stick with it, but it’s nice to have a backup option just in case.
Bernie Gilles says
Another awesome post! Thanks for pulling together so many resources and insights into each! I’ve been wanting to build a map with links to posts and eventually Instagram, I can’t wait to dive in! Thanks again!
Cool! UMap does allow you to include pictures and slide shows so you should be able to do what you’re looking for there. I haven’t played with that functionality yet, but I know it’s there.
I’ve always been a map geek, should have been a cartographer. Love these interactive maps you have created. I’m going to check out the OpenStreetMap link you provided. Thanks, oh-and love reading your blog.
These are great!
Speaking of maps I found that the map app in iOS 8 on my new iPad is horrid. So I installed Google maps and was dismayed with the changes. For one thing they removed the exit numbers. We missed an exit on our last trip due to no numbers. Fortunately we found a way to exit and reverse our route on a side road. Not always easy in a beast. I am now planning to pack my old iPad along. The first gen iPad map app is awesome.
Now that gas is affordable again we can’t wait to find some sunshine. We are socked in with horrible fog now.
I enjoy the maps. I did notice your Page AZ pushpin is over near Clovis NM. 🙂
I plan to overnight in that area in early April so that’s how I noticed. I thought maybe you knew of a place that I didn’t.
Whoah!! How did that happen? I must have accidentally moved it. Thanks for catching that. It’s corrected now!
Roger Fell says
I had your Google maps bookmarked for the various years, all seems to still be in working order. The links work just fine. Just a temporary glitch?
So, it’s confusing. The way you see my old maps has got something to do which VERSION of Maps Google throws you into when you click the link. I have some old bookmarks that show the maps correctly, but when I access them from my main panel, or try to click from somewhere else Google “upgrades” me to the new maps & I lose the links. So, just depends.
My feeling is that at some point Google will completely eliminate the old map versions and it’s just a question of time before I lose those old displays altogether. I’m still going to keep the maps active just so I can track them. Plus many of my old blog posts link to them.
Lynda.. stillhowlyntravels says
Having had so much trouble keeping a mapping record of our travels using Google’s maps, this was so helpful. Really appreciate all the links as I need to get going on 2015!
Glad it helped! Hope you figure out a good option for your own travels.
thought this might be useful.
Fun little map. Someone put alot of effort into creating that!
Brian and Carolyn says
Glamping out and nerding out in one blog. We enjoy ALL the info we glean from your blog. Thanks so much.
I’m a complex woman, what can I say 🙂
Jennifer Nealy says
I just spent an hour yesterday fighting with Google Maps – seems half of my 2014 pins magically disappeared. Finally got that all straightened out, but I’ve never been able to make the damn line tool work!! I love your new maps but appreciate the honesty about the learning curve – I am not hard headed enough to fight that battle. So I’ll just continue to admire your lovely maps while I curse out Google maps over mine…lol.
That Google Maps line tool has gotten tough to use, even more so since they upgraded their maps last year. I don’t know what it is about the tool, but having to draw any kind of longer line is a huge frustration (map can’t scroll, zoom is difficult, line stops itself, line moves, line goes whacko etc.). You can do it, but only with looooots of patience and (usually) multiple failed attempts. Ugh! Anyway glad you got your pins back.
Thank you for this post! I just recently discovered your blog and truly appreciate the detailed information you give about the places you visit. My husband and I have been primitive camping for years and just recently rented an RV for the first time thinking we would hate it but discovered we loved it! I am now planning our second RV trip and the information you share is a great help. -Jenn
I just stumbled upon your Map posting and agree with everything that you said about Google Maps and how difficult they have made life for us map aficionados.
I too looked for an alternative but was ready to go back to school. I have made peace with Google API Maps now, it has been a war, and am able to build maps that serve my purpose. You have done well!
I just finished all the maps for a bicycling Cross Country Tour that are the Beta for what I want to do with the Google My Maps that currently are in the left column of my Home Page.
Check out http://edwardfrey.com/biketrips/trip5.html and click the Total Tour Map Button. If you have the time I would appreciate your feedback.
Looks great Edward. Only thing I might add is the actual bike route (road travel route?). I’m sure other bikers will be interested in the detail of the roads taken. Looks like an amazing trip!
After the Total Tour Map came up did you click on any Push Pin and see a Date in the InfoWindow? If you click on that Date it opens the Journal on that date which provides the roads taken in detail (most of them). Or there are weekly maps that show an approximation of the route taken.
As you know it is very difficult to show all that detail on a map of the US with multiple Markers. This has been my attempt to provide the detail but using text and separate maps.
Ah no, I didn’t. I was only looking at the map detail. I see what you’ve done. Good work…I know how much time went into it!
Chelsey W says
MRV has been a great help!
Looks like an interesting map routing program, but doesn’t look like a program that can keep track of your travels (e.g. for a blog)? Won’t cut it for what I need, but might be helpful for people just looking for a general routing program.
I’ve been using TravelPod for our travels. One of the reasons is because it generates it’s own map. Kinda nice. Yours are terrific.
Thanks for such a detailed review of mapping options! I’ll have to check out umaps. because I love the maps you’ve created. A little afraid of the steep learning curve, but your results definitely make it look like the time invested is worth it.
Yeah, it’s a bit of a learning curve. If you get stuck, Google Maps can still do a lot of stuff. You can even create your map in Google (if you find that easier) and then export it into uMap afterwards.
FRANK POOLE says
I’ve been going through the “Google frustrations” on their Maps for blogging etc.. I love the maps, but geesh. heheh
Anyway, I’ll give this one a try and it looks promising. i like that you can “Link” to the photos/blogs etc and you can ADD legs as they happen to the master map.
So, Thank you so much for the heads up…
My only concern is that after a year or so, the developers will let it go and it slowly becomes obsolete, but I’ll give it a try non the less..
ps. heheh, I note this post is an older one, but thanks, it’ll get me started..
I’ve been using Travelpod.com for our last itinerary and the current one. What I like about it, among other things, is that it creates a map for you.
I used it for the 2015 and 2106 trips….other than that I used blogger com and created my own maps using powerpoint.
Cheers for the tip. Always good to have more alternatives.
Hello! I think http://gpx2kml.com/ might be a good solution to use, if you need to create routes or waypoints. It is a free online tool and you can easily convert gpx to kml files and vice versa, when needed. No installation required.
Hmmmm….not sure how I would use this since I need to track both waypoints and travel route (roads traveled), but perhaps others will find it useful. Cheers for sharing!
wayne thomas says
Thanks for this info, I too have had frustrations with google maps. I built my first map for our new rv blog using umap. It was pretty straightforward with the help from Mike, from Life Rebooted. I use blogger and had one issue that others may run into. When I pasted the code from umap, it didn’t display in my blog. The problem turned out to be that blogger now uses https and the link from umap to openstreetmap was using http. I simply added the s and then it worked.
Also I like the little campground symbols you used, where did you get them and how did you cause umap to use them?
wayne thomas says
I forgot to check the box to get email to follow-ups so if you could reply to this. Thanks.
Chris Moberg says
I love this tutorial on mapping! I just recently found an interesting alternative too — a tool that allows you to customize a Google Map visually. It has really nice icons and visual appeal. Check it out: http://www.realjetcharter.com/travel-map
Sharla Keen-Mills says
So, I just found the MASTER MAP. I praise your persistence and thank you for providing so much location info. Your maps are a rich resource for those of us drifting around this incredible country in our RVs. Many thanks Nina.
Excellent! So glad it’s helpful.
Joe the Computerguy says
Between you and Michael I found this easy to do. Thanks for blazing the path. Where did you get the icon for the tent you use in your maps? I looks and can’t seem to find it and I do like it. Right now the pin is what I am using.
Again, thanks for doing all the hard work.
Go into “Edit map settings” (= the gear wheel symbol on the right-hand side of your map), then click on “default shape properties”. This is where you can edit both color, shape and symbol for your individual map icons. The camping symbol will be under “icon symbol” (click “define” to see it).
Bruce Overbay says
Did you ever do an update to your original January 2015 post, Mapping Alternatives For Bloggers (And New Wheelingit Maps!)?
No I never did an update. I’ve continued to use the maps I described here since I wrote the post. So I’ve not switched to anything else. I’m still happy with uMaps.