So my big planning session for the Trip to France has been going on for a good few months. I am pretty much finishing up, but I thought I would share the process I went through.
Finding the Stops:
The first thing I did was decide on the places I wanted to stop for the night. My wife had convinced me not to go all the way down to Nice as it was two pretty long drives in a row. It would have wasted a good few days just to get down there. Instead I would pick places that were close and that I had never been to.
After seeing a travel show about the Dordogne, I decided I wanted to see the cliff towns in the area. This was to be my first stop. I used Google Maps with photos to check out a few towns/cites between Dordogne and Grenoble and picked Lyon as my second stop. Google Maps really helped to find interesting photos of several Cities. Grenoble was already decided as my 3rd night stay. The fourth night was going to be in Grenoble again, but as my route became a little more organized, I picked Annecy as a stop. I really wanted to visit this town, so I was glad I was able to switch it. The last stay before Paris was to be in Beaune. I wanted to stay outside Dijon as it was a bit off the path as well as more expensive than a smaller town. Beaune looked pretty cool being the main area of the Burgundy region.
These locations were picked as my route became clearer and clearer. Adjustments were made just recently to switch to Annecy. I had a good mix on longer (6hr) drives and shorter (3hr) drives. It seemed a good balance.
Finding the Locations:
Using Flickr and Google Maps (with photos) as well as Street View, I spend days looking for cool locations where other people had taken pictures. I found great locations from castles to small towns to cool roads. I also downloaded a great National Geographic App on my iPad that showed me a few more places that I had to visit.
I can’t stress more how helpful Google Maps has been for this trip as well as others. Finding locations in an area that I have never been would not have been possible without this fantastic technology. The benefits photographers (Travel at least) have these days is astounding.
When I started creating the list, I had a rough route in mind. I used Google Maps and its My Maps functionality to add the route to the locations I found. I would have markers and route side by side and I could adjust and make changes where ever I had access to the internet.
I had the maps and Points of Interest all set up, but I keep adding POIs as I go.
Adding to my GPS:
I have a Garmin GPS with that ability to store routes. I looked at a few tools like GPSies.com, but Garmin’s map programs seem to work the best. The first thing I did was add all the routes into the GPS. That was easy enough.
Part two was getting in a the points of interest. I first set up all the locations in My Maps on Google so that they were all set up with naming conventions like Day 1.1 – Castle on Lake. This would allow me to know the general order I wanted to go it. From there I would export the map as a KML file (there is a link on Google Maps). I then found a program called POI Manager that would import the KML file and then transfer it to my GPS as Points of Interests.
I wasn’t exactly sure how the Points of Interests would show up, so I manually saved each as a Favorites once they were in the GPS.
So far this looks like a great solution. I have a whole bunch of cool locations set up, with my routes all planned out, as well as a general idea on how long I have to drive each day. I have decided to take my old MacBook Pro with me so that I can make any changes that can’t be done directly on the GPS. I’ll tell you how it turns out when I get back
Step By Step:
I’ll write a step by step when I get back and see how well it worked.