“How do you know which road to take?”
“Where do you find the off-the-beaten-path?”
“How do you plan your route?”
People have asked us these questions more than once. And to be honest we were bad in answering them. Strange isn’t it? These questions seem to be fairly simple, right. What is the problem then?
Well, this might come as a surprise, but we never put much time in our navigation. Our route planning is very minimal. No hours of prepping, no detailed road book to follow … simply “what could be an interesting road to get from here to there?”
To find those scenic roads we use the following tools:
- A free, open-source navigation app: maps.me We totally recommend it!
- In the past, we were also fans of the paid app “Navigon”. Since this app functions more like a normal GPS, allowing you to specify what kind of route you’re looking for, what kind of routes to avoid and what kind of vehicle you are. It also had a paid add-on that gives you extra restrictions, like height and weight (which can come in handy when you are driving a +7.5 ton, 3m68 high expedition truck). BUT like any GPS it still makes mistakes, AND most importantly we lost all of our purchased add-ons when we switched our mobile provider. As you can imagine, we were absolutely not happy about this.
- Google maps
- Old fashion paper road maps. The best are the ones from a specific area, not one covering multiple countries.
- Recommendations by fellow travelers AND locals
- Our eyes & ears.
When we travel to a new country/area we do some online reading beforehand (to be honest Elmer does most of this). What are the places and activities we shouldn’t miss, what are tourist traps, are there any natural forests, etc.?
We mark these points of interest on our paper road map. This gives us an overview of the places and people we want to visit. Having this clearly visualized in front of us makes it easier to decide upon the general travel route.
Next, we search for additional geographical features around this travel route that draw our attention: lakes, mountains, forests … These we find on paper road maps, google maps or on the navigation app.
Finally, we look for small roads (local roads, gravel paths, forest roads, …) that take us there.
And the rest is up to keeping our eyes and ears upon while driving.
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