We're been to Europe several times on driving vacations. I always use Rick's guides, other guidebooks and the internet, and then combine them to create a route. I usually use a spreadsheet, Mapquest and Tripadviser as tools to plan the route in detail. I'd like something a little more all-in-one and purpose-tailored in terms of software that will help me plan the route, e.g. with hotels and Points of Interest geared toward my goals for the trip. I see that TripIT, ViaMichelin and TYRE seem to be popular. What is everyone on the forum using and what do you like/not like about the software you use? P.S. I'm now planning a trip to France for 2014, Paris/Loire/Dordogne/Provence.
TripIt isn't really route planning software. It is for keeping track of your confirmations for things like flights, hotels, rental cars, and other things. It does build you an itinerary along the way, and you can add additional stops, but there are no actual planning resources involved. It does add maps to your stops when you put in hotel confirmations. I use ViaMichelin for figuring distances and driving times from place to place. It also shows tolls and gas costs, and you can see the fastest route, most scenic route, shortest route, etc. The map is also easy to change if you want to route through a particular town. I use it not only when planning trips for myself, but also for answering questions here on the Helpline. Their driving time estimates seem to be a bit more accurate than MapQuest. I have never heard of the other one you mentioned.
I've found that no other website can more accurately predict driving times than ViaMichelin. That's not to say that if it estimates "4 hours, 13 minutes" for a given trip that it will, in fact, last exactly 4 hours and 13 minutes. But averaged over several trips, ViaMichelin has consistently given the best approximations. Google Maps is great for real-time traffic information, and for Street View to help you find your location, but I haven't found their drive time estimates as useful as ViaMichelin.
I use via Michelin on the PC for planning, on the netbook while traveling and on the app in the car and in the cafe. The app is very good and gives loads of info; it has good traffic information and is comprehensive. I also use the Michelin Traffic app for more detailed traffic and the various Michelin hotel and restaurant apps. I keep a Michelin group on my phone.
In addition to driving directions we use Google Maps to "drill down" to look at hotels at various locations. Then I check reviews on Trip Advisor, etc.
I'm with Sharon. I use Mapquest or Googlemaps to see where I'm going, and print out directions, etc. But when I'm looking for hotels and restaurants, I'll magnify Googlemaps and click on the hotels closeby.
The map gives you their direct internet address. There are just so many accommodations and restaurants in any area that you don't even know are there. It's a treasure of information.
I would not recommend the latest version of google maps for route planning in the UK. For reasons known to themselves, they have recently stopped using the colours used on all British roadmaps, and have a scheme with hardly any distinction between non primary A roads, B roads and side streets. May still be OK for town/city plans though. Michelin is not much good here either, at least at close scale.
I would not recommend the latest version of google maps for route planning in the UK Google's latest version is indeed a step backward:( But if you play around with the settings you can switch back to the original version.
I started using ViaMichelin tonight and it's fantastic. It's a pretty busy website so at first it wasn't obvious to me that the Travel section is what I wanted. It has a huge amount of content (pictures, ratings, traveler comments) in terms of choosing places to visit and allows me to add push-pins to a map to create a route. Looks like I'll be able to export this route to a GPS - very nice. It has a feature where is creates a slideshow of the places I put on the route; this will be perfect to vette trip ideas with my family. This video on YouTube gave me a clue regarding how to get started putting together a route: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SO9fM3115T0 Once I knew where to go and a little bit about the features the software has been very easy to use.
Thank you to everyone for your help on this. This forum is an incredible resource.
I regularly consult viamichelin.com whenever I'm driving, or considering driving. It's a decent guess and also tells you tolls and estimates fuel costs. I like the toll information as much or more than the time enroute. If the tolls are significant, I can test other routes and weigh the additional time enroute against the toll savings.
I swear by viamichelin.com and they also have an iphone app. It was the most up to date and easy to follow. It also is very clear on how much it would cost me to drive to a location. A few times I used this to decide on taking the train instead for the day as it was faster and cheaper.
Via Michelin has more toll and travel time precise information that any other vendor that I know ow (at least those covering all European countries). Another neat aspect of Via Michelin is that its maps, at certain zoom levels, have a lot of additional information such as scenic routes, the limits of national or regional parks etc. It also clearly indicates which routes are tolled or not on the map. They launched a GPS device of their own a while ago, but it folded due to intense competition.