How to Plan a Road Trip With Google Maps

When you have children, summer breaks can seem long and never ending. Even for those without kids, it can be nice to break up monotonous summer months—or any other time of year, really—with a fun road trip. However, it’s not all snacks and singalongs; road trips require a lot of planning.

You may know that you want to pass through specific cities or see certain attractions along the way. Maybe you’re also planning to stop somewhere for the night to recharge or to prolong your stay at your final destination. You could start your road trip plans by making a mental list of these locations or maybe you’ll save yourself a headache by writing it down somewhere.

Wouldn’t a map make more sense? You can first brainstorm your desired locations in an Excel spreadsheet, then easily make a Google Maps road trip map you’ll be able to load on your phone.

You can create your road trip map with the three steps below:

  • Determine the desired locations of your road trip
  • Compile a spreadsheet (with categories and directions)
  • Visualize the destinations of your road trip with Google Maps

As with any journey, to get started, first determine where it is you wish to go.

Determine the Desired Locations of Your Road Trip

Photo by Aidan B on Unsplash

The first step in planning a road trip with Google Maps is perhaps the most fun: deciding where you want to go! There are millions of cool places you can navigate to by car, though you may end up focusing on just one or two desired locations and the stops you’ll make along the way.

Spontaneous road trippers may feel extensive planning takes the excitement out of a road trip. After all, you could theoretically save time by just getting in the car and going, searching for attractions and restaurants near you on your phone. However, foodies and planners know that to get the best experience out of your trip, you can’t just stop at the nearest McDonald’s. Plus, if you have kids, food allergies, or specific ways of eating, prior research is always appreciated.

So, you may know that you want to pass through specific cities or see certain attractions along the way. Maybe you’re also planning to stop somewhere for the night to recharge or to prolong your stay at your final destination. Or, if you’re struggling to come up with ideas, you can always look to popular destinations, such as:

Other than attractions, you may also want to plan stops at lodging, gas stations, family, or restaurants like the best restaurants in 25 major cities.

You could keep a mental list of all these locations, or maybe you saved yourself a headache by writing it down. But the best way to keep track of your road trip locations for mapping purposes is to first add them to a spreadsheet.

Compile a Spreadsheet (With Categories and Directions)

With a better idea about the locations you wish to visit throughout your road trip, transfer them from your mental list, Word document, or Notes app into an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheets. This will aid you when it comes time to create a Google map.

To compile your spreadsheet, you’ll want to put the information into several different columns with headings such as:

  • Location name
  • Address
  • City
  • State
  • Postal code
  • Category

For some Excel tricks on how to easily separate your data into columns, see Simplify Complicated Data in Excel Spreadsheets.

The address, city, state, and postal code are fairly self-explanatory; they’ll be needed for mapping the locations later. Location name is meant to identify the place you want to visit. You may choose to name it something like “Grandma’s house” or “highest-rated restaurant in Casper, Wyoming.” A category heading and subsequent column is useful if you want to later be able to sort your map.

Why Categorize Your Locations in a Spreadsheet

By assigning each of your desired road trip locations a “category” or “type,” you’ll be able to sort your map by the categories, filtering out the rest. This will certainly come in handy if, in the middle of your road trip, your hangry partner needs food immediately. Bypass attractions, gas stations, and lodgings when you sort the map by restaurants or fast food joints. Or, if you’re past “E”, you can narrow down gas stations without seeing the other points on your map.

To add categories, simply add a new column in your Excel spreadsheet. In the new Category column, assign each location a one or two word categorical description such as “Attraction,” “Lodging,” “Restaurant,” or “Gas.” You’ll elect if and how you want these categories to appear on your map when you start plotting your points.

Link Directions Between Places With This Excel Skill

Another useful column you may wish to add to your Excel spreadsheet are links to the Google Maps directions between your places. However, you don’t want to manually search Google Maps. Instead, make use of Excel’s CONCATENATE and knowledge of Google Maps’ links to come up with a formula like this:

=SUBSTITUTE(CONCATENATE("", B2, " ", C2, " ", D2, " ", E2, " to ",B3, " ", C3, " ", D3, " ", E3), " ", "%20")

As you likely know the order in which you’ll be visiting each location, the formula above creates a direction link from this row’s location to the next row’s location based on the columns you already created. So to work, the road trip locations need to be in a specific order. The last stop is empty because…you will have arrived! Now let’s see how to get this spreadsheet with categories and links into Google Maps.

Visualize the Destinations of Your Road Trip With Google Maps

Now that you’ve determined some of the locations of your road trip and compiled a spreadsheet complete with categories, it’s time to map your road trip with Google Maps, via BatchGeo. BatchGeo uses the Google Maps Geocoding API, known to have some of the highest quality data available. Other services require you to write code or manually geocode addresses one by one, but our service performs everything you need to do in several easy steps:

  1. Open your spreadsheet
  2. Select (Ctrl+A or Cmd+A) and copy (Ctrl+C or Cmd+C) all your data
  3. Open your web browser and navigate to
  4. Click on the location data box with the example data in it, then paste (Ctrl+V or Cmd+V) your own data
  5. Check to make sure you have the proper location data columns available by clicking “Validate and Set Options”
  6. Select the proper location column from each drop-down
  7. Click “Make Map” and watch as the geocoder performs its process

You now have a map of your road trip with Google Maps, like the one below:

View Yellowstone road trip example in a full screen map

Our example road trip map depicts travel from Cheyanne, Wyoming to the destination of Yellowstone National Park (for the geysers, of course!). With two attractions and various restaurants, gas stations, restrooms, and hotels, the map has everything you need when traveling long (or short!) distances. You even have the option to automatically number each stop along the way in a particular order.

We may be biased, but we think BatchGeo is one of the best road trip apps. Plan your own road trip with Google Maps today via BatchGeo, which uses the Google Maps API so that you can create custom maps for free to better visualize your data.

100 Best Rock Climbing Routes in the U.S. Mapped

Rock climbing is a popular sport. Whether a group pursuit with friends or a solitary activity like it is for the free solo climber Alex Hammond, people with varying athletic abilities and goals can participate. As such, different types of rock climbing have developed along with assorted difficulty levels that determine which routes you can climb.

There are also places where multiple of the best rock climbing routes are located, like Rumney, New Hampshire. Climbers who live here have access to top rock climbing routes in their own backyard while others must travel miles to access popular routes in the United States. Speaking of states, there are those like Colorado which contain more top rock climbing routes than others. You can easily determine this and more when you enable Cluster View on the map below.

View Best U.S. Rock Climbing Routes in a full screen map

We mapped‘s 100 best U.S. rock climbing routes. Identified in October 2015 thanks to Facebook users, climbers, Mountain Project’s Top 50 Classics, and route finder tools, the data also contains the difficulty grade or rating of each route. Rock climbing ratings are set by local climbers and can have additional details (such as a + or -). Now let’s take a look at places in the U.S. where multiple of the best rock climbing routes are located.

Locations with Multiple Top Rock Climbing Routes

Chalk it up to these places’ geography. If you visit one of the following locations, you’ll have at least five of the U.S.’s best rock climbing routes at your fingertips.

  • Rumney, New Hampshire
  • Red River Gorge, Kentucky
  • Smith Rock, Oregon
  • Red Rock, Nevada
  • New River Gorge, West Virginia
Photo of White Mountain National Forest by Yefta Albert on Unsplash

Rumney, New Hampshire is a town located at the southern edge of the White Mountain National Forest, the only national forest in New Hampshire or Maine. It’s home to 10 of the U.S.’s best rock climbing routes, the most of any other location in the U.S. Rumney rock climbing routes include Beat Junkie, China Beach, Cold War, Crowd Pleaser, Flying Hawaiian, Junco, Lonesome Dove, Millenium Falcon, Technosurfing, and Waimea. They range in difficulty from one easy route to three elite routes, though most of Rumney’s routes are intermediate.

With eight popular rock climbing routes, Red River Gorge, Kentucky is not far behind Rumney. Red River Gorge rock climbing routes includes Amarillo Sunset, Gettin’ Lucky in Kentucky, God’s Own Stone, Jesus Wept, Mercy, the Huff (one route), The Force, To Defy the Laws of Tradition, and Ultra-Perm, lies within the Daniel Boone National Forest. These climbing routes are either intermediate (two), hard (three), or reserved for an elite few (three).

Both Smith Rock, Oregon and Red Rock, Nevada have six of the country’s best climbing routes. Smith Rock climbing routes are 5 Gallon Buckets, Cry Babies, Dreamin’, Just Do It, Moons of Pluto, and Screaming Yellow Zonkers. Red Rock climbing routes include Big Bad Wolf, Monster Skank, Mr. Choad’s Wild Ride, Sunny and Steep, The Gift, and Under the Boardwalk. Then there’s New River Gorge, West Virginia, the last city to offer five or more routes. The top New River Gorge climbing routes are Legacy, Mrs. Field’s Follies, Narcissus, Porter for Recorder, and Quinsana Plus.

Rumney and New River Gorge are located to the country’s East while Red River Gorge sits in the Midwest. If Smith Rock and Red Rock represent the West Coast of the U.S., what about Mountain West—a subregion of Western U.S.—climbing?

Mountain West’s Top Climbing Location

You already know about the many best rock climbing routes in the East, Midwest, and West Coast. The location in the Mountain West with the most highly-regarded routes is Ten Sleep, Wyoming. While you’ll want to be on the lookout for bears when climbing in Ten Sleep (Wyoming is one of the country’s fatal bear attack hotspots, you’ll have access to four excellent climbing routes like Beer Bong and Circus in the Wind, among others.

Additionally, though the Mountain West’s top climbing location only has four of the U.S.’s best rock climbing routes, it is the overall region with the most routes scattered about. The Mountain West is home to 30 of the 100 best rock climbing routes in the country, while both the West Coast and the Midwest have just 25 and the East has 20. Now, which Mountain West states have the most routes?

States with the Most Top Routes

Looking at the locations of multiple top climbing routes may lead you to think that those states have the most top routes, but that’s not 100% accurate. New Hampshire, Kentucky, Oregon, Nevada, and West Virginia are included in the top ten states with the most top routes, though none are the #1 state with the most top routes.

State # of Routes
Colorado 12
New Hampshire 10
California 9
Kentucky 8
West Virginia 7
Utah 6
South Dakota 6
Oregon 6
Nevada 6
Wyoming 5

Those who live in Colorado have access to the most top rock climbing jaunts: 12 to be exact. Across the country, New Hampshire touts 10 top rock climbing locations, the second most after Colorado. Back on the West Coast, California has nine destinations. Kentucky offers eight and West Virginia has seven of the best rock climbing routes.

Six other states have five or more top places to climb, which you can also easily see on the map when you enable Cluster View.

Use Clustering to View a Representation of Multiple Markers

With 100 of the best U.S. rock climbing routes represented as markers on the map, many of which are located in the same state and even city, it can be difficult to get a good sense of them all. While you can zoom in and out of BatchGeo maps as you please in order to better see the markers that sit atop each other, you may just want easy access to some sort of marker summary. This is what you can see with Cluster View.

Map clustering looks for markers that are near each other and replaces them with one icon that represents multiple markers. These markers, by default, are labeled with the number of markers they contain for a simple way to see just how many markers—in this case, rock climbing routes—are located in one area. As we zoom in further with Cluster View, we begin to get a sense of the states’ number of popular rock climbing routes without manually counting each individual marker.

But the default number of markers they contain is just scratching the surface of Cluster View, because you can also discover the average and sum of your data via Cluster View. Learn more about BatchGeo’s Cluster View with a cluster map markers demo and tutorial or get started with your own map today at

Weird Sea Creatures Found Around the World

Fish and other ocean animals are free to move around the ocean as they please. Take the frilled shark, for example. This shark has been spotted in a number of locations throughout the Atlantic and Pacific oceans—from northern Norway, Scotland, and western Ireland to France and Morocco. And those are only the Eastern Atlantic locations frequented by the frilled shark. It’s also been spotted in the waters of Hawaii and California, along with northern Chile in the Pacific Ocean.

However, while sea creatures do move around quite a bit, we can still make educated guesses about their primary locations thanks to documented sightings. And for these extremely rare and weird sea creatures found around the world, a map documented sightings like the one below may be the closest we’ll ever get to them.

View Weird Sea Creatures Found Around the World in a full screen map

We gathered and mapped data from Popular Mechanics and then assigned each creature a type. The map is sortable by those types for easy exploration. You can also find a summary of where to find the most weird sea creatures, the different types of marine life, and how to make a map of your own below.

Where to Find the Most Weird Sea Creatures

All sea creatures have the option to go wherever they desire, assuming sea temperatures and other factors support them. However, we noticed a few areas with more of these weird sea creatures.

  • Lizard Island, Australia
  • Monterey Bay, California
  • The Gulf of Mexico
  • Japan

You can see these groupings on the map, or read on to see what we found in each place.

Lizard Island & Other Underwater Destinations on the Australian Coast

Photo of Lizard Island by Caroline R on Unsplash

Lizard Island is home to three weird sea creatures on our map: the Christmas tree worm, aptly named Lizard Island octopus, and the recently discovered delicate claw crustacean. Weird sea creature discoveries aren’t rare on Lizard Island. In fact, a research station set up on the island in 1973 has resulted in nearly 1,000 scientific publications. Lizard Island is located just off of northeastern Australia. While it’s the only weird sea creature hub to the northeast of the continent, the coast surrounding other parts of Australia also experience activity from unique marine life.

Off of mainland Australia, you can often find a blobfish (also known as fathead) or two. Blobfish may also be found in the waters between Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania. The leafy seadragon, cousin to the sea horse, can only be spotted along the southwestern coast of Australia. Towards northwestern Australia, you may discover a gulper eel (which can grow to be six feet long!) You might recognize the name as a one was spotted ballooning its massive jaws in a viral video. While the Australian coast is certainly rich with unique marine life, it’s not the only body of water weird animals frequent.

Monterey Bay

Photo of Monterey Bay by Guillaume Merle on Unsplash

Monterey Bay, California, has two weird creatures on the map. What’s notable is how small a body of water is compared to other creature hot spots. Both vampire squid and sea nettles are native to this area. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they’re both on display at the famed Monterey Bay Aquarium. In 2014, the sea museum became the first to house a vampire squid in captivity.

In addition to being such a small body of water to house two rare sea creatures, Monterey Bay and the Gulf of Mexico are the only US bodies of water with weird sea creatures on our map.

Gulf of Mexico & Japan

As we mentioned, the Gulf of Mexico is another location to find much unique marine life. While it’s less shocking to find three rare animals in a large gulf when compared to a small island or bay, it’s still worth noting. The giant isopod, black swallower, and venus flytrap anemone each often reside here.

Additionally, the ocean waters around the island country of Japan are frequented by five weird sea creatures including Japanese spider crabs, vigtorniella worm, hydrothermal vent snail, and two sharks: the frilled shark and the goblin shark.

Types of Weird Sea Creatures

While both of the sharks on our map are most likely to be found in Japan, there are plenty of other types of weird creatures out there; we included eight total on our map:

  • Crabs, lobsters, or other crustaceans
  • Eels or fish
  • Jellyfish
  • Snails or slugs
  • Octopuses or squid
  • Worms
  • Sharks
  • Sea cucumber

Snails or Slugs


Of the five fascinating snails or slugs on the map, one stands out. While the sea angel looks and sounds nothing like your typical snail or slug, it really is just a predatory, and slightly cannibalistic sea snail. The sea angel’s diet? Other snails. We’re sure those other snails refer to the sea angel by a similarly biblical yet otherwise very different name.

Lobsters, Crabs, & Other Crustaceans


While each of the nine crabs, lobsters, and other crustaceans on the map are pretty weird-looking, none look anything like Kiwa, the God of Shellfish Crab. Named after the mythological Polynesian goddess of shellfish, Kiwa crabs are extremely unusual with their furry claws and lack of sight. However, there is no dispute over their classification: they’re crabs, a specific type of crustacean.

The pycnogonid sea spider, on the other hand, may or may not be a crustacean. Currently, it’s considered a different type of sea creature, grouped together with the likes of other seemingly crustacean-esque sea creatures such as horseshoe crabs. However, some believe sea spiders should be included with crustaceans like Kiwa, the lysianassoid amphipod, the delicate claw crustacean, giant isopod, Japanese spider crabs, terrible claw lobster, Metapseudes, and the munnopis isopod.



Jellyfish can also look fairly odd. Included on the map is the arctic hydromedusa, nicknamed the Darth Vader jellyfish thanks to its helmet-like form. While it’s quite common at about 3,300 feet deep in the waters of the Arctic, no one knew it existed until robot submarines investigated the strange blob squeaking “Luke, I am your jelly.” Other unique jellyfish include the crossota norvegica jellyfish, sea nettles, and marrus orthocanna. You could make a whole map dedicated to all the different types of jellyfish and where to find them.

Make Your Own Map Today

Plotting vague ocean points can be challenging. For example, to make this map, we had data points like “Indian Ocean” and “Mid-Atlantic Ridge.” However, since BatchGeo uses the Google Maps Geocoding API to allow users to map their own data, there are accurate results for most reasonable searches. This includes common landmarks and business names; even larger geographic areas (like entire oceans) typically return the center point of the location. Read more about our geocoding process here or make your own map today.