Genealogy research trips are like treasure maps and always an adventure. It is important to have a road map of the area you are visiting so a state map is very important. A detailed city map is useful for the big cities.How do you get a hold of maps like these or find your way?
If you are a member of Triple AAA, The Automobile Club, you can get free maps and travel booklets that list hotels. This website for AAA is for Washington State: http://www.aaawa.com/ You will need to sign up for your own state. You can order maps and booklets through their website. Another option is a used bookstore like Half Price Books. They have older versions of travel books. You do pay a small fee for them.
The tourism website for the state you are going to visit can be of assistance and frequently you can get free travel brochures by clicking on their links. I just typed “Tourism Pennsylvania” into Google and it takes me to all kinds of information and I can pick and choose what I want. I decided on this site for Pennsylvania: http://www.visitpa.com/visitpa/home.pa. A state tourism website is a great place to get familiar with the regions and the way a state views itself. There are links to lodging, activities and more. They also have maps to view. This particular website is very helpful and easy to get around in. Some can be difficult very difficult to find information.
This tourism website also tells you about other visitor centers. Going to a visitor center can be helpful. You get more good maps and can ask questions of the natives.
I will be visiting in several of the regional areas in Pennsylvania. First stop is Philadelphia and the Countryside http://www.visitpa.com/visitpa/regionsDetail.pa?regionid=7. I will fly into Philadelphia and stay there for the conferences for the PMC for APG and the FGS. Then I will rent a car and drive to Lancaster. At the end of the trip I will return to visit Washington’s Crossing and Valley Forge.
Next, Dutch Country Roads http://www.visitpa.com/visitpa/regionsDetail.pa?regionid=6.
I will drive through Lancaster, do a little exploring and have a little dinner before I head for Harrisburg.
After Harrisburg is The Alleghenies and Her Valleys as another regional area I will travel through. I will follow the Susquehanna River up to Sunbury and vist that area for a day or so. http://www.visitpa.com/visitpa/regionsDetail.pa?regionid=5
The target area is the Northeast Pennsylvania Mountains. From Sunbury I will travel East to Wilkes-Barre and stay there for six days. This is where the Goss family settled in 1769. http://www.visitpa.com/visitpa/regionsDetail.pa?regionid=3
To plan my route I am using Microsoft’s Streets and Trips 2008 software, which I purchased at Sam’s Club (Walmart) for about $22.00 this year. This gives me very good detail. It sets up a driving route from each point giving me time and miles between stopping points. The time factor is very important in planning your trip. I can turn on local information like hotels, museums and parks to see what is in an area. It doesn’t have them all but it helps. With gas prices as high as they are these days this is extremely important in making sure you plan your trips efficiently.
If you don’t have access to Triple AAA or want to save money you can use MapQuest http://www.mapquest.com/ and Yahoo Maps http://maps.yahoo.com/. I find them very helpful and they have worked great for me in the past. I would plan a route between to stopping points. It gives me the time and miles. I can even zero in on a city and just make a map of the area in the city that I need or a whole town if it is small enough. They save your addresses which makes it easier to make adjustments. You can print them off to place into your Travel File for later viewing. I write on the printouts what the addresses refer to and put them in order into my Travel File. These maps don’t always give you as much detail as you need so you still need a city or state map to review as well.
This year I have discovered Google Earth http://earth.google.com/ which takes you to the location in real time showing you houses, buildings, roads, cemeteries etc. It is sooo cool! It will be great for finding cemeteries. I have wandered around a bit looking for the small ones before, HA! You will have to sign up for Google Earth but the basic is free.
Don’t forget the DOT for the state you are visiting. DOT stands for Department of Transportation. The one in Washington State has cameras on the roads so you can see what the highways look like and get a feel for the area. They also tell you about construction problems. Street’s and Trips 2008 does too. This is the one for Pennsylvania: http://www.dot.state.pa.us/.
The other websites that you might want to study are Airport websites which give you a map of the airport. Here is the Philly airport site http://www.phl.org/index.html. Airport websites give ground transportation information for taxi’s, shuttles, rental cars and a map of the airport and terminal, food and shops, flight information etc.
How do you find these things. Just type DOT Pennsylvania into Google and you will get there. For Airports just Google Philadelphia Airport. Remember to be careful and choose the right airport. Some cities have several?
I have two routes set up on “Streets & Trips 2008.” One is the overall trip which is like a big circle: Philly to Harrisburg to Wilkes-Barre back to Philly. The second route is in the Wilkes-Barre area to all the sites and repositories I will be visiting.
You gotta know where you are going or it can be really be a problem. You can waste time. Wouldn't you rather be researching your family and having fun? So plan inadvance it works!
I will put these route maps on my laptop where I have the software loaded and it will help me to find my way. Then with my new Moto Q9c cellphone with Sprint Navigation on it I should be able to get from one place to the other just fine.