I have been collecting tools for planning routes and mapping for couple years now. Some of my favorite projects are already offline (not really a good business I suppose), and a few new were recently published. However, planning travels is not about maps only. It’s also about weather conditions, safety, hazards, satellite images, supplies and environmental issues. Let me share with you selection of the most useful online applications for travelers.
Maps and navigation
Some may not realize, but there is a dedicated version of Google Maps that lets you plan, import and export your own routes.
This website offers a few interesting options, although there are various opinions on their accuracy. The functionality I have found useful personally is the elevation finder.
A giant! And a brilliant piece of software that allows you to plot elevation profiles, draw routes, convert KML and GPX files (and others, like Garmin, Timex or TomTom custom formats), export to JPEG, SVG or PNG images, and many others. Usually, when I was not able to find an easy way to exchange data between devices, GPS Visualizer was coming handy.
OpenStreetMap is exceptional when it comes to planning journey in great detail. You won’t find these little gems when browsing Google Maps, since it is community driven (crowdsourced). For example, with the offline version on a mobile phone we were able to locate a shortcut in a small town in Spain that saved us a few kilometres, or it helped us to find a good spot to set up a tent the next day. Paths, bike routes, camping places, shelters and even fresh water sources – extremely helpful!
Although most of the content is paid, there is some very useful data available to the public, like the World Available Water map. Go to http://www.arcgis.com/home/gallery.html and see if there is anything you would helpful in planning your trip.
What I love about this application is its straightforward user interface combined with support for KML format.
Similar to Google Maps in terms of finding optimal routes, but providing more insight in the terrain and elevation. Great for those who plan their walking carefully.
Surprisingly, the best online tool I have found to… Plan my trips and exchange data with my Garmin satellite-enabled watch. Adds very nice name tags to all route points.
Weather forecast and hazards
Probably the most accurate weather data in the Web, extremely useful for long-term planning thanks to statistical data available for almost every place on the planet. http://www.yr.no
Another useful resource for statistical data, including some of the most remote places, deserts etc. http://en.allmetsat.com
When I was not able to find enough statistical data in Yr, this was my second choice. https://weatherspark.com
Really cool resource for health-related information. See on the map if the place you are going to is in danger of an epidemic outbreak. http://www.healthmap.org
Similar to ArcGIS, but free. A lot of information regarding health, economy, population etc. http://www.targetmap.com
Did I miss something important?
If you know of any other resources, please let me know!