Google Maps needs more robust travel planning tools

Planning a long road trip today, I kept becoming frustrated by the limitations of Google Maps when it comes to dealing with, well, long road trips.

Let me explain.

Say I want to drive from Edmonton to Newfoundland.



I plot the starting point and ending point into Google Maps and it tells me it will take 70 hours of driving time to get to St. John's.

Doing the math, that's five days of driving at 14 hours a day.

And here's where Google Maps falls short in its feature set.

What I would want Google Maps to do is take that five day road trip, and offer me options on how to break it up into approximate 14 hour driving segments each day, including giving me alternatives on cities/towns to sleep at night.

Because, really - if you were leaving Edmonton and driving east, would you know what's 14 hours from Edmonton? Winnipeg is 13 hours away. I know that because I've driven between Edmonton and Winnipeg probably a hundred times in the last 20 years. (But you may not know that if you don't have family in Winnipeg you visit all the time.)

And if I stay in Winnipeg at the end of Day 1, that means I have to then drive 15 hours from Winnipeg to ... where? ... on Day 2 to maintain my 14-hours-per-day average driving time to make it to St. John's on Day 5.

How do I find that out? What's 15 hours from Winnipeg? I can plug in names of Ontario cities and towns along the route and go at it via trial and error. And then I have to do that again on Day 3, to figure out what's about 14 hours from wherever I stopped in Ontario. And so on.

The specific problem I was dealing with today was similar to this. I was plotting out a 26 hour drive to the United States. We didn't want to do two 13-hour days because there was some urgency to arrive at our destination by a certain time on Day 2. So Day 1 needed to be about 16 hours long - maybe a little more.

Again - I had no clue what was 16 hours away from Edmonton on the US Interstate on which we'd be driving. So, again, I was throwing proverbial darts by plugging in cities into Google Maps to see if they were 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 hours away from Edmonton.

Fundamentally, I want Google Maps to figure out destination options for me based on the time parameter. If I'm doing a 26 hour trip over two days and I set my parameters as driving 16 hours on Day 1, I want Google Maps to churn out a list of cities/towns/villages within, say, 15.5 to 16.5 hours of my departure point along the route defined by the Point A to Point B 26-hour trip, so I can narrow my options on where I need to get a hotel.

(And while Google is upgrading its software, it can tell me where to get gas, too.)

In discussing this today on Twitter, @AlanSchtweetz even suggested that Google could implement a feature like I'm describing factoring in a user's previous travel history and hotel preferences.

Which seems eminently reasonable to me given that Google is mining all my search history and emails for this kind of data anyway.

And if someone responds to this and tells me that this is buried somewhere in Google Map's menus or whatnot, I will  HAPPILY and massively amend this post.
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