Road Trip Planner (RTP) is an app for MacOS that’s great for planning road trips. Like Photoshop, it’s a complex, versatile toolset that offers many ways to build your plan.
The data for a road trip is stored in “pins” — database records that correspond to map locations. There are two kinds of pins:
- Route pins. When you automatically plot your route, it will pass thru these pins.
- Point of Interest (POI) pins. When you automatically plot your route, it will ignore these pins.
A good way to plan a trip is to mark all the places you’d like to visit (POIs), and then create a route that goes to or near as many of them as you can manage.
Add a POI pin to a trip plan
Let’s say I’m going to drive thru Montana and I want to go to museums. I find the Montana Historical Society Museum in Helena, MT on the web.
- I copy its address to the clipboard.
- I open my trip plan in RTP.
- I click Toggle Dividers to make the RTP database “dividers” visible.
- In the bottom left corner of the POI Pins list, I click + to add a POI pin.
- The Location Window opens. It gives me three choices; Location, Contacts and Import. I leave it set at Location. I paste the museum’s address from my clipboard. Click the magnifying glass or push [ENTER].
6. RTP does an Internet search and displays a list of places that it thinks match my location data. If I enter a complete address, only one item will usually be in the list. I could instead enter something generic like “Helena Montana museum” and get a list of several items.
- Whether there is one item or many, I must click at least one item to create a pin.
- If there are several items (let’s say I’m planning to wander from bar to bar), I can click more than one of them, and then click go to add a POI pin for each of them.
I switch to RTP’s map view and see my new pin on the map:
There are some other ways to add a POI pin to a plan. You can:
- Pick locations in your Apple Contacts
- Drag a route pin from the Route Pins list to the POI Pins list. I do this to “hide” a route pin that I don’t want to use for routing right now, and I don’t want to delete it either.
- Import locations from a compatible program
Oddly, you can’t copy and paste pins. And you can’t create a POI Pin directly on RTP’s map.
We can stop now that we have a default POI pin labelled with the address of the POI. Or we can add some more information to the POI pin. RTP is capable of adding many kinds of information — probably more than you’ll want.
Rename a pin
When the dividers are visible, I see a list of route pins; a list of POI pins; and in the right-hand pane a set of views controlled by tabs. The Web, Places, Pin, Dates and Activities views show information about one selected pin.
In the POI Pins list, I click the POI pin I created for the museum. (You can rename a route pin the same way.). In the right-hand pane I click the Pin tab. On the top line, I type a new label for the pin:
MT Helena: Historical Society Museum
(I like to put the state abbreviation and a town name at the front of a pin name. That way, if I need to narrow the width of the name column I can still at least see the pin’s location.) Right away the new name shows up in the Name column of the POI Pins list. There’s no OK button; this isn’t Windows.
There’s also a space to write or paste notes about this POI, like the hours the museum is open. I hate to admit how many times I’ve navigated us to someplace I’m eager to visit, only to discover that it’s closed that day! Of course, if the museum changes its hours, what I write or paste here isn’t going to change. I wouldn’t paste the URL of the museum’s website here; there’s a Web tab for that.
Change the pin icon and color
Select a POI or route pin in the pin lists. In the right upper pane, click the Pin tab. In the bottom left corner of this view, click the pin icon.
This brings up a menu of pin icons and colors. Oddly, there is no icon for “Museum” (altho I see one for “Casino”). “Villa” near the bottom of the list looks like a good general-purpose public building, so I use that icon.
To keep things simple, I avoid making blue POI pins. Interstate number symbols on the map are blue.
Save a web site in the pin
One pin can hold many web sites. Again, POI and route pins work the same. Oddly, you can’t save a website that you find on RTP’s on-board browser. Point your external browser, such as Safari, at the web site whose address (URL) you want to save. Select the URL field contents at the top of your external browser and copy it to your clipboard.
In RTP dividers, select a pin. In the right pane, click the Web tab. In the bottom left corner of the lower right pane, click + to add a web site. The RTP web site is automatically added.
Edit this entry. Type a name for your web site in the first field. Tab to the second field and paste the URL that’s in your clipboard.
You can view a saved web site in RTP’s browser by selecting it in the list and clicking Show. To see it on your external browser, click the globe button underneath the web page image.
Save an activity in the pin
One POI or route pin can hold many activities. An activity is a way to add a cost to your adventure. It also provides another place to stash a URL.
Select the pin from a list and, in the right pane, click the Activity tab. Click + . Fill in the form on the bottom half of the pane to create an entry in the top half of the pane.
You can set a date/time and duration for the activity. Note that if the pin is a POI pin, you can’t use the Date tab. That tab is for dates/times that RTP adjusts when it automatically plots your route.