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planning car tripOnline mapping services make planning a car trip much easier than it used to be, and Bing is seeking to make their service, Bing Maps, the best site on the internet to create your next travel plans.

The new version of Bing Maps has a unique feature called Maps Apps, which are extra components you can add to their mapping software to unlock more functionality.

In this guide, I’ll cover a few new Maps Apps that can help you plan your next trip better.

Using the New Bing Maps

Before you can get started, you’ll have to install Microsoft’s free Silverlight plugin to view the new Bing Maps. Silverlight is similar to Flash and allows your browser to run interactive web applications.

Not sure if you have Silverlight installed? Just head over to the new Silverlight-powered Bing Maps and you will receive a notification if you don’t have it.

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To use Bing Maps Apps, you need to use the new version of Bing Maps. You can access the new version by clicking the Try it now link under Explore the new Bing Maps at the Bing Maps website, or view the new version directly by clicking this link.

planning car trip

Bing Maps is similar to other online map applications like Google Maps, so you should feel right at home when using it.

Access Maps Apps

To access Maps Apps, click the Maps Apps button which is located in the bottom left corner of Bing Maps.

planning car trip

This will open a window that displays the 30 (and growing) Maps Apps that are currently available. To use Maps Apps, simply click on one to activate it. Below are some of the newer additions to Bing Map Apps.

Calculate Distance Between Locations

If you’re doing any serious trip planning, it’s always a good idea to figure out the distances between certain points of your route to plan for food and refueling.  Bing Maps makes this easy with the Distance Calculator app.

trip planning

To use the Distance Calculator, type in a location into the search box or drag the orange flag to a location on your map.

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You can add your entire trip, destination by destination, in the Distance Calculator and it will show distances between each location.  You can change the order of your destinations by using the arrows in the left sidebar.

trip planning

In addition to showing you individual distances, the Distance Calculator will show you total distances for both flights and road travel.

Find a Parking Spot

Click the Parking finder Maps App to get parking information for airports and cities utilizing information from BestParking.com.

The Parking Finder app supports several large cities and many airports. After you’ve added the app, click the Cities or Airports tabs to select your destination. Your map will then be updated with data from BestParking.com overlayed on top of your destination.

Find a Hotel

The Hotel finder app makes it easy to find a hotel at your destination using information from Bing. Click the Hotel finder button in Maps Apps to activate this feature.

Small purple indicators will appear on your map showing the locations of all hotels in the area. Clicking these indicators reveals details about the hotel, and clicking the hotel’s name displays additional information (including reviews) in the left sidebar.

These were three of my favorites among the recent additions.

A few apps not covered in this article, but would also be helpful when planning a trip are Current Traffic, Roadside Attractions (great for family vacations), and Local Events.

Give the new Bing Maps a try and share your thoughts with us in the comments!

  1. Will Radie
    August 27, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Unless I am doing something wrong.. this is failing big time. It says plotting a route from New York to West Palm Beach is to far for it to handle.

    So much for this solving my Cross Country Trip Planning woes. Google is killing me with it's limits to how often you can drag/change a route.

    I am personally STUNNED at the lack of a quality Road Trip Planner online. Even the "best" are very much lacking. If only I knew how to code.

  2. Will Radie
    August 27, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Unless I am doing something wrong.. this is failing big time. It says plotting a route from New York to West Palm Beach is to far for it to handle.

    So much for this solving my Cross Country Trip Planning woes. Google is killing me with it's limits to how often you can drag/change a route.

    I am personally STUNNED at the lack of a quality Road Trip Planner online. Even the "best" are very much lacking. If only I knew how to code.

  3. sgsrin
    June 4, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    this is another one : 3:50

  4. sgsrin
    June 4, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    this is another one : 3:66

  5. sgsrin
    June 4, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    this is another one : 3:46

  6. Jim McHugh
    June 3, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Does anyone know how to close the left side navigation tool bar without lossing the address and how to add more information to a location like another name or phone#. Also, Bing does not integrate well with MS Outlook 2007. Any ideas?

  7. pceasies
    June 3, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Looks good, may try it out. Google's ability to save maps has always bothered me. I'd like it to automatically name businesses from their address (the name seems to disapear when saving) and would also like to easily be able to select different locations and get directions. I'll have to see how Bing stacks up

  8. allcarvedup
    June 3, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Looks like google maps may have a little catching up to do. And I son't see what the big deal is about installing silverlight.

    The distance calculator is great! Used to have to use a seperate mapping program to get that functionality. Love this (and I am not a big BING fan)

  9. allcarvedup
    June 3, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Looks like google maps may have a little catching up to do. And I son't see what the big deal is about installing silverlight.

    The distance calculator is great! Used to have to use a seperate mapping program to get that functionality. Love this (and I am not a big BING fan)

  10. Nat Jay
    June 3, 2010 at 5:30 am

    Looks like Bing is trying hard to measure up to the boom in GPS maps, including Google's own map and data services that have been around for so much longer. Still, it's always good to have new players in the field.

  11. AriesWarlock
    June 3, 2010 at 5:03 am

    Looks cool, pity I won't be installing Silverlight.

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