Get Lost Again!
by Laura Emery, Associate Editor
If you’ve ever had anyone try to give you directions
using expressions like, “turn just beyond the light,” or “it’s not
too far up the road,” then you know you can’t always count on another
person’s directions to get you where you need to go.
That’s where the World Wide Web comes into the
picture. There are a variety of Web sites where you can get directions and
maps that meet your specific needs. You can get reverse directions, and
tailor your directions to the shortest route or the most direct route.
There are a number of Web sites out there that will
allow you to obtain driving directions from point A to point B without
having to ask someone who knows. These Web sites provide directions,
interactive maps, and satellite/aerial imagery of the United States.
While the major map services are correct and helpful a
majority of the time, they are not going to be correct all the time. There
is always a chance that the service has not been updated to take into
account new roads or roads under construction. It is recommended that you
use more than one Web site to get directions, in order to be sure the
directions are consistent. Most of the major sites also offer a feedback
form for users to report inaccuracies in any of the maps or directions.
Get it right with Google Maps. Google Maps (http://maps.google.com)
is a Google service offering powerful, user-friendly mapping technology,
including business locations, contact information, and driving directions to
anyone searching for results in the United States, Canada, and the UK.
With Google Maps, youll enjoy a variety of unique
features. You can click and drag maps to view adjacent sections immediately
(no long waits for new areas to download). With satellite imagery, you can
view an aerial image of your desired location that you can zoom and pan.
Integrated search results help users find business locations and contact
information all in one location. For example, if you search for [pizza in
San Jose], locations of relevant listings appear on your map, and their
phone numbers appear alongside.
Detailed directions are at your fingertips. Enter an
address and let Google Maps plot the location and/or driving directions for
you. Click any part of the driving directions to see a magnified map or
satellite image of that part of the route. There are also keyboard
shortcuts. Pan left, right, up and down with the arrow keys. Pan wider with
the Page Up, Page Down, Home and End keys. Zoom in and out with the plus (+)
and minus (-) keys.
The new release of MSN Maps & Directions (www.mappoint.msn.com)
includes an enhanced user interface for finding addresses, expanded
geographic coverage, and a new way to find businesses that are close to your
location. You can also copy or build links to Web pages containing MSN Maps
& Directions maps.
There are enhanced options for finding addresses. You
can now copy and paste the address you want to find into a free-text field
instead of typing the address into a structured form. But if you prefer to
use the form, it is still available. There is also expanded geographic
coverage. You can now find addresses and places in Australia, Brazil, and
Athens, Greece, in addition to Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland
(Helsinki only), France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands,
Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the
After you find a location on the map, you can find
nearby outlets for your favorite coffee shop, hotel, rental car agency, and
more. Just click the icon of the service you’re looking for to see nearby
locations on the map. For detailed information about a business or to get
driving directions, you can point to the pushpin that marks its location.
With MapQuest (www.mapquest.com), you can learn how to
create, interpret and even customize MapQuest maps. There are also new
options for using MapQuest maps on the go with your PDA or cellular phone.
MapQuest is the leading provider of online maps. It has
a 30-year history in providing high-quality cartographic services and works
with the best-of-breed data providers to provide accurate online maps and
directions. MapQuest now also features images of road signs along with
detailed directions to help you navigate. Plus, if you’d prefer not to
travel heavy-traffic highways, simply click on the option that says “avoid
Yahoo! Maps & Directions
With Yahoo! Maps and Directions (http://maps.yahoo.com),
you can enter the starting address and destination in the appropriate boxes
on the address-entry page, and then click the “Get Directions” button. A
written driving route will then appear, along with two maps. The map on the
left will show the full route, while the map on the right will show the
destination in detail. You can interact (pan and zoom) with the full-route
map to customize it to fit your needs. If you would like more detail for
your route, you can enable turn-by-turn maps that will display a zoomed-in
view of each maneuver.
Get on the road with RandMcNally. At RandMcNally (www.randmcnally.com),
you have a few more options than with other maps-and-directions Web sites.
You can use this Web site to plan a road trip, with helpful sections on
places to stay, best of the road, road construction, weather, and things to
According to their Web site, “Get quick, accurate
online directions from the most trusted name on the map.” You can use any
U.S. address, intersection, airport, or latitude and longitude, and the site
will even save your last five starting points and destinations.
MultiMap is a good resource if you’re planning a trip
abroad. Multimap.com is Europe’s most popular mapping Web site, offering a
range of free, useful services to assist with everyday life. Key features
include street-level maps of the United Kingdom, Europe, and the U.S.; road
maps of the world; door-to-door travel directions; aerial photographs; and
It requires you to type in a street name, postal code,
place of interest or map-grid reference, click “Search,” and then it
reveals a map of the location you are looking for. If there is more than one
location with the same search criteria, it will give you a list of options
to choose from.
Once you have the map of your chosen location, you can
zoom in or zoom out to see more- or less-detailed maps of the surrounding
area. You can even print the page, so you have a hard copy of the map to
carry with you.
Once you figure out which of these Web sites is best
for your specific traveling needs, you’ll never have to get lost again.