The younger you are, the easier it is to take technology for granted. Whether you are cynical or, like me, more easily entertained, I find mapping programs like Google Maps simply remarkable. The people who have built these tools over the last 10 years are brilliant.
If you never used this terrific service, go to maps.google.com now. It doesn't matter where you are going... the shortest most up to date driving directions and road maps are moments away.
G-Maps has been my choice for quite some time already. The know-how in the geo-mapping field has advanced amazingly yielding remarkable immediate maps of most of the planet and directions to just about any place on planet Earth.
I'm going to do a cursory review of these three services, which with any luck will save you some time when you get to the websites.
After years with MapQuest I typically use Google Maps lately (although Map Quest still has one exclusive feature I will let you know about in a minute). My fondness for this Google service developed after finally examining their very easy to grasp directions.
It is an astonishing bit of technology which will present you with both maps pretty much anywhere in the world and detailed driving directions in most countries.
To try and cover all of Google Maps in this review would fail, so let's look at the key features of the web site and you can learn the rest when you get there.
You can observe earth satellite images all over the world and overlay streets on those satellite images, it's awesome. All the main map categories are available to view.
You can see people wandering around Trafalgar Square in London or read the home plate logo at Coors field in Denver. In most parts of the world, you can also generate point to point driving directions.
Another exclusive tool of Google Maps is that it lets you to adjust the route it has laid out for you, simply by dragging the route marking to another position. We often know alternate routes, learned by experience that we want to use. The other services won't let you change the path... with Google Maps it's easy.
Rand McNally has been making road atlases for a long time. Word has it that Fred Flintstone used their atlas. They still favor the printed map or atlas and sell a lot of them. Next time you stop at a large fuel stop check by the register, it's a safe bet you'll find Rand McNally maps for sale. Now, having said that, they have excellent e-maps and directions. I find them especially effective for comparing routes with Google or MapQuest as a double check kind of thing.
MapQuest has been around since the good old days of the internet... 1996... so by e-standards, it's very old if not antique. AOL bought it in 2000 and remains in charge.
I have used Map Quest plenty of times and they always work. They have great maps for the US, Canada and Europe but are weaker in the rest of the world in their quality and detail. US directions are totally detailed and usually quite accurate. In some growth areas they can be a little behind, simply because of trying to stay current with new growth can be difficult.
The last major feature on MapQuest, is that it will search for the least expensive gas or diesel no matter where you are in the US. It's a great way to keep an eye on your fuel budget and it only takes about 30 seconds.
Between the three of these sites, you should be able to find your way around anywhere on the planet.