Creating Useful Directions for Solo Travel

Creating Useful Directions for Solo Travel
Whether you're traveling solo for business ventures or personal rejuvenation, if you're going to be driving around in your destination, it's likely that you will be needing directions. Like most people, you will probably trek out to Mapquest or Google, diligently enter your start points and end points, print off your directions, put them in a file folder, and they'll end up on the passenger's seat as your'e careening around a city.

Here's the problem. Those directions are FANTASTIC when you're traveling in tandem, but the passenger's seat can't read the directions to you as you're trying to get from Street A to Street B in unfamiliar territory. And the last time I checked, "But Officer, I was reading," wasn't an acceptable reason for running a red light or turning the wrong way down a one way street.

So here's how you can help solve that problem.

Whatever you use for your directions - I prefer Google or Mapquest, but whatever you find reliable will work, you don't have to print the directions exactly the way that you see them on the screen.

1. Enter your start and end addresses, just like you would normally.
2. When the instructions display, instead of clicking "print" automatically, click and drag your mouse to select the text, and then copy the text. You can do this easily by clicking on the "Edit" menu (in Internet Explorer) and selecting "Copy". (Pressing CTRL C, as well as doing a right mouse click and selecting "Copy" over the selected text works, too).
3. Open Notepad or a word processing program. If you open Notepad, simply click "Paste." You'll notice that your directions paste without any graphics or text formatting. If you open a word processing program - like Microsoft Word - you want to paste plain text. You can do this by clicking on the Edit Menu, and choosing "Paste Special," and then selecting "Unformatted Text" from the list.

As an example, here are directions from part of Boise to the airport, pasted as plain text:

1: Start out going WEST on E PARKCENTER BLVD toward W BEACON ST. 0.4 mi Map
2: Turn LEFT onto W BEACON ST. 0.3 mi Map Avoid
3: Turn LEFT onto S BROADWAY AVE/ US-20/ US-26. 2.2 mi Map Avoid
4: Merge onto I-84 W/ US-30 W toward NAMPA. 0.8 mi Map Avoid
5: Take the VISTA AVE. exit, EXIT 53, toward AIR TERMINAL. 0.3 mi Map Avoid
6: Turn LEFT onto S VISTA AVE. 0.2 mi Map Avoid
7: S VISTA AVE becomes W AIRPORT WAY. 0.6 mi Map Avoid
8: End at 3201 Airport Way Boise, ID 83705-5097 Map

Now, I edit them down to this:
1: W - W BEACON ST. 0.4 mi
2: <<-- W BEACON ST. 0.3 mi
3: <<-- S BROADWAY AVE 2.2 mi
4: I-84 W to NAMPA. 0.8 mi
5: EXIT 53 VISTA 0.3 mi
6: <<-- LEFT onto S VISTA AVE. 0.2 mi

In this example, there aren't any right turns, but for those, I use "-->>" as the symbol.

Then, I blow it up. Well, not literally. I select all of the text in the document (a quick shortcut for this is "CTRL A" in Windows), and I format the font through the menus or the dropdowns to be at least 28 points - if not larger. Yes, it does take more paper to print directions like this, but the fact that you're driving more safely solo is worth far more.

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