When we’re planning where we want to go and the basic route to get there we tend to hit Google Maps as we find that it’s the easiest way to get a route overview. It’s a neat tool – you can zoom it in or out, you can see satellite views, street views and the attractions in a town that you may be passing through. You can copy the way points to your GPS or SatNav as long as it’s compatible.
The next tool on the list is WikiCamps This is a paid app for your planning. A neat feature is that you only need to make one purchase per operating system We have two licences – one for our desktop Windows PC’s and our Windows tablets and the other for our iPhones. It has a truckload of camps listed and all sorts of filters. Want free camps ? Just use the free camps filter. It also has reviews and photos for just about every site as well as indicative costings. There is a trip planner built in which I haven’t come to grips with yet. Allegedly it’s quite easy to use once you overcome the learning curve. You can also download a heap of offline maps and content so you don’t need to be able to be connected to the internet to use it.
The other tool that we use is Findacamp which is a free web site which requires internet access. In most cases a selected camp site will have the available facilities listed. It also lists a heap of info as well as directions for each camp site.
Of course we also use paper maps – the Easy Read Road and 4WD Atlas from Hema and WAC maps. No batteries or internet access required – they’re paper. If you’re using paper maps, a compass is a must have. The atlas is especially useful when Plan A goes to the dogs. Another very good and useful series of paper maps are the World Aeronautical Charts. They are 1:1,000,000 and I’ve used them heaps. In the mid 1990’s a group of us did an unsupported pushbike ride across the Gunbarrel Highway from Alice Springs to Wiluna (WA) and our maps of choice were the WAC maps. We always carry the Hema Atlas as well as the relevant WAC maps with us. Currently Geoscience Australia is collaborating with Airservices Australia to revise their WAC maps.
The last tool that we use is a GPS or SatNav or whatever you want to call. it. There are so many brands and models out there that it’s almost a joke. We use two. A VMS 700HDX and a TomTom if indeterminate age. When buying a GPS have a good read of the specs, especially the operating temperature. It’s going to be stuck to your windscreen in the full sun for a lot of its life and the last thing you want is for your GPS to suffer from heatstroke. Our VMS unit does suffer to an extent and of course it always decides to have a fainting spell just when we need it most. This is when good old fashioned paper maps come in handy.
That just about rounds out our planning and trip tools apart from one the comes with the car. The Odometer.