Thursday, July 26, 2012

Route Planning Tool

How do you plan your itinerary for your upcoming trip?  Do you use Google Maps to calculate the distance and then add it manually into a spreadsheet?

I generally create a spreadsheet which includes date, departure town, arrival town, distance and a notes section.  I have also been using a spreadsheet created by Francois Visagie which allows for multi-currency itinerary planning and budget planning.

My biggest frustration is calculating the distance between two towns... it's easy enough to do with Google Maps but just time consuming when working out an itinerary.

I began to ponder... what if there was a spreadsheet which could do that automatically for me?  A quick search on Google revealed the answer...

 A Google Map distance calculator has been created by Winfred van Kuijk.

The spreadsheet uses Google Docs (Google username required) to link to Google maps and will calculate the distance between two cities.  It allows you to add to a trip log, which you could copy to your favourite tip planning tool.

It has a few limitations which is primarily around the route planning.  It presumes, via Google Maps, that you always want to do the quickest and shortest route, rather than an alternative route.  The work-a-round is to create more 'hops' between the smaller towns.

My tips on using the spreadsheet:
Create a copy of the template to your Google Docs account.
Distance Calculator - Settings
First change the settings for your region i.e. country code and units.
Be very specific of your address i.e. Nata, Botswana

Let me know if you think its useful...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

To Africa & Beyond...

She was my first Land Rover.  A well equipped 1968 Land Rover Series II 109 with an awfully noisy 2.286l diesel and gritty Fairey overdrive.  Her brakes needed pumping, her gear box double-clutching and her radiator topping up with fresh water, but she looked the place in Southern Africa and for me, she was just perfect.

Her downhill speed was 80km/h and her comfortable cruise control was a ample 60km/h (hand throttle engaged). Time was not an issue for me... I had four months to cover Southern Africa before heading North to Europe.  

Her homemade rooftop tent was unique and offered a panoramic view of ones surroundings as you lay under the stars.  

The open roads took time, especially when a head wind blew.  Her tubed 7.50x16 tyres hummed along the gravel and tar roads.  New cars whizzed past, a few hooting a hello.  Conversation between the passengers was limited due to the grinding overdrive and tractor-like engine.  Contemplation of the journey occupied each passenger.

In 1999, my attempt to keep an internet diary was limited due to internet access and a decent photo scanner but the memories are still vivid including the smell of EP90 oil dripping constantly from the gearbox (that smell still makes me shiver!).   Thankfully a few memories were recorded on video camera (which had a dead microphone) so all that remains is me talking about my trip...

You can read more via my very first overland website - excuse the lack of high resolution photos: To Africa and Beyond

Saturday, July 21, 2012

World Trip in a 1928 Graham-Paige car

The Zapp family, from Argentina,  have been travelling the world in a vintage 1928 Graham-Paige car. 
You can follow the Zapp family adventures via:
The Zapp Family with their Graham-Paige car
You can watch a short TV interview of the family via NZ TV
The family have just arrived in South Africa and will be heading North to Cairo.  A news report via: IOL
Read the book:

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Expedition Portal Video Contest

The Expedition Portal website has been hosting an overland video contest for amateur and professional film makers.  The entries were open to anyone who felt they had a good video story to tell... I thoroughly enjoyed most of the videos and loved the enthusiasm people have for the overland travel. 

Watch and vote via the Expedition Portal forum.  My two choices are listed below...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Jungle Junction, Nairobi

Jungle Junction Photos (Google Search)
Jungle Junction Campsite in Nairobi has to be one of the most popular campsites for majority of overlanders visiting Nairobi.   Reading the blog post from ‘Tin Can in Africa’, I was reminded of the many memories I had whilst traveling overland around Kenya and staying at Jungle Junction.  I arrived in Nairobi in August 2005 having heard rumours of an open house run by Chris Handschuh which was named 'Jungle Junction'.  The internet was young in 2005 and attempting to find the GPS coordinates for this campsite proved pretty difficult.  Eventually, I found the coordinates and headed out to find the house.
Jungle Junction Campsite
October 2013 Update:  I have added the new GPS waypoints as Jungle Junction have moved to Karen, Nairobi.  The remainder of this blog post focuses on the previous campsite...