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Maps and Directions

Updated on September 16, 2014

Maps Get Us Where We Need to Go

We use maps to get us where we need to go and show us how to get there. If if weren't for maps, we all might be driving around in circles wondering how to get across town or across the country.

We've come to take maps and driving directions for granted. We have so many online resources available like Google maps and Mapquest that let us plug in the locations of where we are and where we want to go then the magical route appears.

Use this information as needed including

- to plan your next trip using one of the many driving direction trip planner links

- to find parks on your trip route

- to print the travel activity worksheets to keep the kids busy and more

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

World Maps - Increase your geography knowledge with a world view

A large wall map of the world is a great way to teach kids about geography. Ideas for using a large map include watching the news together then finding the places on the map, planning the route of your next trip, and placing pins on cities where family and friends live.

Google Maps Help You Find Places, Like Thrift Stores! - Use this tool to find it, get there, and more.

Google maps can be used everywhere online. For instance, say you're searching a city for thrift stores--Atlanta, Georgia for example. (Don't tell me I'm the only one who does that when I'm visiting somewhere new?) Beside the list of thrift stores, there's Google maps with dots showing all the thrift store locations that it found.

This map feature is truly wonderful! It helps us gauge the following: - how many thrifts stores there are; - where the thrift stores are; - how far apart the stores are from each other; - intersections where they're located; - addresses to pinpoint the stores we want to visit (first... because we want to visit them all, ya know?)

show route and directions
A marker -
Tucson, Arizona
get directions

B marker -
Atlanta, Georgia
get directions

Mapquest controls feature live traffic and destination images.
Mapquest controls feature live traffic and destination images.


An Excellent Mapping Program for Short or Long Trips

Mapquest is another mapping alternative online. Mapquest can help you with these mapping tasks:

- driving directions from point A to point B

- the Map Toolbar to find lodging, restaurants, airports, gas stations, movie theaters, golf courses, and more on your driving route

- directions with multiple stops on the route

- live street views of traffic and buildings on your driving route

- ability to print and/or send driving directions via email

Photo Source:

Which of these options do you use most of the time to plan your route?

See results

The Fictional MapGenie in Larry Crowne - Voice Courtesy of Nia Vardalos

Nia Vardalos (the hilarious bride in My Big Fat Greek Wedding) co-wrote the 2011 movie Larry Crowne with Tom Hanks. She speaks about the experience with CBS News.

Even though Vardalos didn't act in the movie, she does have a small part. She's the voice of the MapGenie in Julia Roberts' character's car.

Plan a Trip - Ways to Map Your Driving Directions

These links will take you to popular Web sites to plan your next trip, whether it's across town or several states away. Don't forget to pack a flashlight, a box of tissues, and an extra jug of windshield washer fluid might come in handy!

Car Games to Help Time Go Quickly - Easy ways to keep the little ones busy

Travel bingo cards are fun! They can help the miles fly by on long car rides. Common objects are shown on a Bingo style card. When someone spots the object, they can slide the marker across that item. When five objects have been found in a row, that person yells Bingo! Keep small treats or prizes on hand to pass out to the winners and watch the miles fly by.

Plan Stops on Your Trip - Use to find parks and museums on the way

You're planning a long car trip. Depending on you and your children, a long trip might be 2 hours or 2 days or more. Even with the best planning and preparation, parents and kids need breaks when cooped up in the car.

Kids need to get out of the car and run. Find a safe park or two on your route using Park Grades. Save money by stopping at parks, which are free, and packing drinks and snacks to enjoy on your breaks.

Be Prepared for a Long Car Trip - Stock up on drinks and games for fun on the road

A well-stocked cooler will pay for itself on the first leg of your car trip. Pack a Frisbee or other outdoor games to play during a rest stop.

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure

Peggy Hazelwood is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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    • profile image

      andrew-smith3 5 years ago

      google maps a good option but helps only when u have internet. i just have downloaded offline maps from it just worked fine on my iphone. everyone should consider this.

    • MarcoG profile image

      Marc 6 years ago from Edinburgh

      I love being able to have a map, of anywhere, including where I am at any given moment...all in my pocket! God bless iPhone map apps x

    • profile image

      bossypants 6 years ago

      Good to see the ParkGrades info, here. It's one of our favorite resources! :)

      I agree with gottaloveit. There was something mystical and exciting about the ol' TripTik.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Here in the islands, we don't really need GPS, but it's a wonderful tool for driving in the mainland for sure.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 6 years ago

      I'm sort of sorry technology has caught up. I used to be the "TripTik" girl (from AAA) whenever we took long family trips. I loved turning a page!

    • cdevries profile image

      cdevries 6 years ago

      I tend to use Mapsco map-books for local travel (plus Google maps). Maps are fascinating! - nice idea for a Lens. (I have a pirate map on my World Building: Pirates Lens.)