You're going on vacation. Your bags are packed, the kids are loaded into the car, and the hotel reservations are made. There's only one problem--you've just realized that you have only a vague idea of how to get from point A to point B. You could try stopping at the local convenience store and hope it has a map that will detail your entire route. A better solution--unless you like sitting in a hot car with screaming kids, trying to figure out where you're going--is to find a map online. Finding a map on the Internet is quick, easy, and may even be more up-to-date than conventional maps.
- There are many websites that specialize in maps. Mapquest is a very popular option. It can provide you with maps of nearly any location in the U.S., Canada and a host of other countries. Mapquest can also provide you with driving directions, including which roads to take, for how many miles, and even an estimate of how long it will take to drive. It works particularly well if you know the exact address of your beginning and ending locations.
- Expedia is another website that can give you detailed driving instructions, as well as topographical maps for the United States and Europe. This website has the advantage of being a "one-stop shop" for travel plans. You can book a flight, reserve a hotel room and arrange for a rental car without going anywhere else.
- Both of these websites offer maps that are interactive. You can zoom in as close as you wish, all the way down to street level. You can also zoom out, so that you can see your entire trip at once.
- Sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where you know the name of the place to which you're going, but not the exact address. For example, you may know that you have reservations at a Marriott hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, but you have no idea what the street address is. In this case, you can go to the hotel's website. Find the hotel in which you are staying. There will be an option to look at a map of the location, and usually driving directions or at least the address, which you can then plug into Mapquest.
- National Geographic has a very useful tool called MapMachine. This website can not only look up a map for nearly any place on earth; it can also give you population statistics, average rainfall, typical weather for each season and even flag facts.
If you are traveling to an area with which you are completely unfamiliar, it's a good idea to get maps and directions from at least two sources, just in case one source proves to be inaccurate. After all, you don't want to get lost. You might--oh, horrors!--have to stop and ask for directions!