Confession: I’m a Google Maps junkie. I love topography, navigation, and wayfinding especially when there’s a road involved but there’s also something fun about dropping in on a location in remote areas or streets the other side of the planet.
When planning travel to regional areas my first stop is Google Maps. Knowing a destination gives me a marker for distance and time needed and so working this into my plan helps.
Often I’ll dream up driving holidays in far away countries (from Australia, everywhere is far!) means Google Maps is really your best friend. You can read about a road in a book or blog but nothing inspires like seeing the real twists and turns or actual location images.
The challenge I️ always set myself is to find what I️ consider the holy grail:
- Silky smooth bitumen
- A mix of fast and slow corners
- Preferably a mountainous area with beautiful scenery
- Low presence of authorities
- Distinct lack of cyclists, caravans, trucks etc
- Fuel for cars and humans
A few countries tend to serve up countless roads which tick many of these boxes, such as Japan, France, Switzerland, New Zealand but there are certainly many more which should be on your radar to visit.
I start off by looking at regional areas then simply look for squiggly yellow or white lines. When I️ find a stretch of road that looks interesting, I’ll go into street view by dropping the little man onto the road and have a look around. You’ll get a good indication of the quality of the surface and camber of the road and by clicking ahead further on the road you can ‘drive’ it in a sense. I’m waiting for the day when Google makes it a smooth and seamless experience to really give a driving impression!
Street view is amazing as at times the view can be postcard worthy. At this point you’ll want to save the location. I use Google’s My Maps which enables me to create a point to point reference or single location marker for nearby destinations such as fuel stations, eateries, repair shops, and scenic stops.
The great thing about Google Maps is it’s getting more sophisticated so planning and sharing is getting easier.
One of the most fun things to do is to chance upon roads which are seemingly deserted. At times you won’t believe your eyes that these roads are out there but you can catalogue them for your own ultimate drive.
There are plenty of roads to be discovered around the world, so build your maps but don’t forget to share.
Saitama region, Japan
New Zealand’s Crown Range Rd
Check out a couple of maps I’ve created for roads near me in Sydney. They are no big secret to Sydney locals but it map be helpful if you’ve never been to Sydney and want to experience the best driving roads nearby. Click on the icon next top the road name for a description and more info.
The Putty Rd, Sydney
The Old Pacific Hwy, Sydney