I use Google Maps for several reasons. First, they are very easy to use and seem to be more logical than others. My primary use for a Google Map is to lay out a rough plan for a trip. I do this mostly to see the total potential miles after establishing some initial route. Our route is rarely “etched in stone,” we commonly change it as we go, and we have been known to change it radically for a variety of reasons but the Maps give me a guide. If we do change the route, Maps is very easy to update, too.
Another important use for me is that I often put in waypoints (potential stops) along the way to estimate a day’s drive. So if we really have to get to another part of the country by a certain date, we can truly plan the daily driving distance. That is exactly what happened to us Fall 2010. We have to get from the Pomona RV Show in California to Denton, Texas in five days driving time. Ordinarily, that’s much too far so rapidly for us but a family wedding was planned.
I also use Google Maps to check driving miles to what I will call “off-route” stops. For example, we left Louisville, Kentucky after being a vendor at The Rally in July 2010 and headed to Redmond, Oregon to be a vendor and present seminars at the FMCA International Rally. Okay, I have relatives in Montana that we wanted to visit and they were sort of “on the way.” We only had a limited time to get to Redmond. The Maps help me to plan this “off-route” trip in driving days and distances.
As you work with Google, the URL for your map just naturally becomes lengthy. For the most part, this has no effect on you unless you need to send the URL to someone or just save it for yourself to call up later. I don’t always save a URL by bookmarking it but sometimes just paste it into a draft document or e-mail. I really don’t like to work with long URLs because there’s increased room for error. Simply, it’s easy to miss a character and you know the computer is unforgiving. The URL is either correct or it isn’t—complete or incomplete, period.
What follows below is a real URL. Note that this is just an example—not a suggestion.
[Author Note… Disregard the ragged right margin. The URL created its own line breaks. Just highlight and copy it all.]
The Google map (route) here resulted in that huge URL and is simply too large to deal with. Can you imagine pasting this in an e-mail? Note that I have generated map URLs that were 2,033 characters long!
Getting the Correct URL
To ensure you can capture (copy) the total and correct URL, use the “Link” button in the upper right corner of your Map window. Clicking on “Link” opens a secondary small window. The top box will contain the complete URL and it opens to you already highlighted—ready for you to copy.
Utilizing this handy “Link” option ensures that the entire URL will be copied correctly. Any extremely lengthy URL—such as my example above—may be difficult to highlight or at least to know when you have it totally highlighted. The “pre-highlighted” URL shown in the “Link” window solves that issue and it is ready to copy instantly.
Close the “Link” window after you capture the URL. Then, if you make additional changes to your Map, the URL in the “Link” window is automatically updated.
Shortening the URL
I have used a specific website called TinyURL
The result is a short URL that is certainly easy to work with especially if you need to send it for example, in an e-mail, to someone else. The good news… apparently the URL created by TinyURL does not expire or go out of date. I have tried some of my shortened URLs that were about two years old and they still worked perfectly.
It must be noted that there are other websites that perform this same function. My recommendation is based solely on personal experience. I have been totally satisfied with TinyURL, have used it for several years, and continue to use it today. The other sites may be just as good but I cannot speak from experience about them.
More good news… to date, you do not have to register, there is no cost, and there are none of those ads in your face at the TinyURL site.