Are you one of the
100% 99.8% of people in the world who want to travel some day if you haven’t already? I do in fact count myself among those 99.8% as I would like to see what else is out there and hopefully do so in a slightly less touristy fashion than most. If you want to travel though, it should involve a good degree of planning. Are you just going to run out into your car and start driving to Las Vegas? Well you certainly could, but more than likely you’ll end up causing yourself a lot of complications and miss out on many locations you may have otherwise wanted to visit. Roadtrippers.com’s main functionality is to allow you to plan trips across the world and share it with anyone you choose. What it has over Google maps though is that it’s specialized in people taking trips by showing you locations like hotels, campgrounds, landmarks, and entertainment that a traveler or tourist might be interest in. To top that off, each location is review by other users on a five point scale and the site has it’s own article resources in the traveling, camping, and destinations niches.
The main app is for the most part a great idea. You can filter the locations that show along a travel route so that only categories you are interested in will show. For instance, someone who just wants to take a driving car ride down to the Casinos of Vegas probably doesn’t want to mess with campgrounds along the way. All they need to do is uncheck the camping and nature categories and a lot of unwanted locations are pulled off the map. In addition, the idea of showing locations up to a selected x miles off the highway would allow a traveler to stop at only locations that don’t further delay them. Of course, if someone wants to take a detour, they are free to set as many way points as they want inside of the app. When you throw in that it displays useful information for a trip like estimated gas cost, trip time, and miles to destination and the fact you can invite others to view your planned trip and that it has mobile applications for connecting to the same system then it certainly has some uses.
But there are a couple things that I cannot give it a free pass on. I get the feeling that the site was never designed for the pure volume of locations that users have actually submitted. If you’ve got a route going across the U.S. and set to show locations within 20 miles of the roads then the interface will display, as far as I can tell, literally every location. This translates into hundreds of little markers trying to fill your screen at the exact same time. So long as you heavily filter it though, it should run alright. That said however, how it was designed to show information like average trip time, total miles, and estimated gas costs is useful information as is how you can save and share trips with others.
Since it’s in a whole other category, I think it’s more proper to compare it to something like Google Maps. If you were to go plug in a route on Google Maps right now, it would tell you the route, distance, and time to get to the destination but also has information I would consider more valuable like tolls, road construction zones, and earth view. There’s some merit to having lists of hotel locations and restaurants planned out before you go but in reality how necessary is it really to find those ahead of time. In a world where people have GPS units or phones with 3g/4g, why not just find the location half an hour before you need it?
Now I don’t regularly go hunting on this site for content but more often than not when I’m reading an interesting travel related article, it’s coming from Roadtrippers. For instance, a friend of mine linked this one on Facebook for campers that are amphibious. Now I knew about Amphibious cars, but never in a million years was I going to think of camper trailers that you pull behind a truck as also being amphibious vehicles with their own motor for traveling on the water like regular water vessels. You probably wouldn’t want to live in it year round, but it’s a pretty cool idea for those who like camping and being out on the water to get something out of both worlds. What makes Roadtrippers different than most other big sites is that they their articles stay a little bit more focused.
They do have two categories named offbeat and pop culture which would infer that they are trying to be another one of those do everything sites. However, that’s not totally accurate and I almost made that mistake myself. They do post articles that are seemingly unrelated like this one featuring breaking bad but they tie just about everything back to travel in someway.
The guides of the site are more like preplanned trips which is actually a pretty cool idea. If you knew you wanted to hit the road, didn’t have forever to plan out an intricate trip, and wanted something a bit more themed then one of their guides might actually get you set up and moving fast. They use the map system for the site in order to show saved routes of all locations along the trip and list out the destinations on a separate page much like if you had saved your own personal trips. They do have quite a few and present them well if you knew they existed in the first place. Unfortunately, the only indication of them on the front page is the link to the guides page from the little drop down menu.
Most other travel sites would simply try to list a series of blog posts and call it a day. Roadtrippers tries to go a bit above and beyond this by competing with Google Maps and GPS systems in trip planning. They make a decent swing at it and the guides they produce for locations to visit are neat but perhaps not entirely necessary. I do enjoy their articles on the whole and the fact that the whole site is dedicated to the niche of traveling. As far as travel related sites go, it’s definitely one of the better ones but the whole business with planning your own routes but it doesn’t quite replace Google maps and GPS for me. I will choose the system that doesn’t experience slow down and displays the most useful information when it comes to websites. Since Google Maps exists on mobile devices and the site has to compete with GPS, it doesn’t really take the cake on the go either.