I have written a few blog posts about taking road trips, so it is only fitting that I write about how I get from Point A to Point B on these trips. I remember when I went on road trips with my family when I was growing up, my dad would take out a large atlas book. He would highlight the roads we would be taking and write out the directions. He would then give the atlas and the directions to my mom in the passenger seat who would then help him navigate on our journeys.
When I had gotten old enough to drive, we purchased Internet for our computer. We got the Internet when I was a sophomore in high school. Whenever I was about to go somewhere new, I would get on the computer and pull up the Mapquest website. I just looked it up to see if it still exists, and it does! I am impressed that it still exists! I would look up the directions and then print them out. I would then hold them while driving or put them on the passenger seat to glance at when I needed to know where to go. I do not remember ever getting super lost by using Mapquest!
Sometime during college, my dad got my sister and I each a Tom Tom which was a GPS device. My dad wanted me to have it since I would drive a lot for ballroom dance competitions. It hardly ever worked, and I usually just resorted to using Mapquest, since I knew it worked well for me. I remember one time, my passengers who were all engineering students spent quite a bit of time trying to even plug the thing in!
After graduating college, I lived in Valparaiso, Indiana. During one summer — probably either in 2013 or 2014, my friends and I were planning to go on a road trip to the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. It was going to be over 7 hours of driving and over 460 miles one way. I knew that Mapquest would work, but I also knew that there were now smartphones with built in GPS systems. I was still using a flip phone, but I decided to make the plunge and bought a smartphone! I am so glad that I got one, because the GPS worked wonderfully! I think it used Google Maps, and my smartphone still uses Google Maps. I like that it can immediately re-calculate if you accidentally get off course. The one thing I do not like though is if you do not have good service, then you do not know where you are, except to know that you are in the middle of nowhere! It usually only happens when I am far from cell towers or in mountainous regions.
When I go on road trips nowadays, I do look up the route ahead of time just to be sure I have an idea of where I will be going. One thing that frustrates me about the GPS on my phone is that it does not learn the routes that I prefer. I wish it would know the route I prefer to take to my parents’ house. Instead, I disobey its orders for quite awhile until I get on the highway.
Also, I wish there was an option to say that if the GPS wants me to turn left in a major city, it better take me to an intersection with a green arrow that allows me to turn left at a specific time! One time, when I was living in Indianapolis, I was driving from work to Muncie, Indiana for a conference. I was driving within Indianapolis, and the GPS wanted me to turn left onto a major road during rush hour without a green arrow. It took me forever to get to the road I needed to go on. I was incredibly frustrated and fuming!
Also, when I look up Google Maps on a computer, I will drag the route to the route that is familiar to me and the one that I would prefer to use. I tried sending the directions to my phone, but it sent the original route and not the route that I had dragged. I looked back at the computer, and in small print, it said, “Dragging does not affect sent route.” I wish they would do away with that and give us this feature! Google, if you are reading this, please update your website!
Overall, I appreciate the GPS on my smartphone. I am not sure what I would do without it, especially since I do not even own a printer anymore and would not be able to print directions from Mapquest. Thank goodness for technology!