In the summer of 2007, I visited my brother in the US – my first trip to the North American continent – and we ended up driving to Miami from Atlanta over a long weekend. It’s nearly a 700 mile journey from Atlanta to Miami with little to break the visual monotony of endless concrete. What was expected to be an adventurous 13 hours eventually denigrated into a pain inducing exercise in boredom and stiff backs.
RoadTrippers seeks to be the antidote to dull road trips. The app, still in private beta, brings together Google Maps with a curated database of ‘places’ to help you plan road trips that are hopefully more fun than mine.
Perhaps the above description doesn’t quite do justice to what RoadTrippers.com is actually capable of. The database of places isn’t the usual cookie-cutter list of restaurants and bars; it includes locations as off-beat and quirky as the college where Scream 2 was shot and the ‘Solar Walk’ – a 4 billion to 1 scale of the solar system in Gainesville, Florida.
I tried replicating my Atlanta-Miami trip on RoadTrippers. The places are divided into different categories, which includes attractions (theme parks, museums, etc.), restaurants, hotels, casinos, monuments, historically significant architectural landmarks, beaches, lakes, shopping and sports sites. The database is extensive (and I don’t throw that word around casually), and I found dozens of places along the Atlanta-Miami highway where we could’ve stopped for something more fun than 13 hours of concrete and traffic.
You can also create a bucket list of places you want to visit and add them to your trip. I’m quite sure this feature will be well loved when the app finally opens its doors to the public.
In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig suggests that road trippers should avoid highways and pick smaller, arterial roads instead – the snakier, the better. In the near future, RoadTrippers.com too will allow riders to pick routes that forego highways for smaller, more off-beat roads. This is a feature I’m really looking forward to. It’ll be the perfect complement to the road tripping philosophy of prioritizing the journey over the destination.
Other soon-to-be-added features include an ability to browse through others’ trips. Perhaps you will also be able to team up with friends and acquaintances (or even strangers? Though I shudder to think of all that could go wrong with that) for shared road trips.
In their ‘About Us’ section, the Road Trippers team promises to make the site into a central hub for “discovery, planning & booking” road trips. From what I’ve seen of the private beta, that vision certainly appears attainable. My only complaint is that the site covers just United States at the moment.