Simple Driving Radius Map Helps Plan An Amazing Day Trip

Have you ever wanted to take a drive without a specific destination in mind just to get a change of scenery? How do you decide which direction and get a general idea of what’s within driving range so you can have an amazing day trip? You use a driving radius map tool, that’s how. Read on to find out more about this helpful trip planning tool.

Woman with red fingernail and shirt points to location on a paper |  Driving Radius Map
Narrow down your options by determining a radius within which you might travel.

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CONTENTS: In this article, you will discover how a driving radius map can help you plan an amazing day trip, including our top picks for apps.

One day, a friend of mine texted me asking where she and her husband should go on an impromptu day trip. The only constraint they had was driving time: they didn’t want to drive more than an hour and a half from home.

I thought about the best destinations, but knew using a driving radius map tool would be the best way to help her plan her day trip.

Related: Have you considered these Advantages & Disadvantages of Travelling by Car?

Why Use a Driving Radius Map Tool?

A geometry compass on a paper map of Rystaat | Driving Radius Map
You can use a compass from a geometry trip to mark off an area.

With so many options for a road trip, a driving radius map tool can help you determine what’s within range from your present location.

Because, let’s face it, part of the problem when planning a road trip is deciding where to go!

Mapping out a radius can narrow down your choices and help determine the driving direction. There are a couple of ways you can do this.

The most basic example is an old fashioned compass from a geometry set. It has a point on one side and a pencil lead inserted in the other, so you can rotate a mark around the center point.

By setting the distance between the two sides equal to the distance you’d like to travel on the map’s key, a quick spin of the compass will show you the destinations in range.

A more rudimentary compass might be a tack with a piece of string tied to a pencil.

For a little fun and random whimsy, you could even take your chances by tossing darts at a wall map.

But, you have more technologically precise options available.

Best Radius Map Apps & Tools

Radius Maps for Android

There are several free radius app tools for Android and IOS.

A variety of map radius tool icons shown on google play for android
Driving Radius Map apps for Android

One app that I like for my iPhone (IOS) is “Radius: Distance From Me.” It highlights a circle around the towns and destinations within a certain distance from a location.

It offers the most basic, convenient features to measure distance in kilometers, meters, miles, or feet. You can opt for a traditional, satellite, or hybrid view of the map.

It really doesn’t get any easier.

How to use Radius: Distance From Me

  1. Indicate your starting destination or allow GPS to locate you.
  2. Indicate how far you want to go and what unit of measure (Kilometers, meters, miles, or feet_
  3. Hit the search arrow.

The “Radius: Distance From Me” app draws a radius around your location on the map, to show you all of the streets, towns and areas of interest you might consider.

Screen shots on the app store (IOS) of the map radius tool, Radius: Distance From Me
Screenshots from the app store of the iPhone app, Radius: Distance From Me

You can zoom in or out for detail or to get a birds-eye view of your options.

It’s that simple.

Tip: If you want to measure your distance in time with this app, estimate about 65 miles/hour for highway trips (assuming the speed limit); less if you’re traveling back roads.

OALLEY Map Radius Tool (Mobile Friendly)

OALLEY is a full-featured, interactive application, designed with more comprehensive options, such as:

  • Measure radius based on distance or time
  • Specify mode of transportation, such as by car, walking, cycling
  • Consider speed limits and type of road traveled
  • Depict the radius as a circle or a polygon along town borders
  • Import your own data points using an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Use layers to organize areas (region, country, etc.) within your maps
  • Save and share maps
  • Get zip codes, population and employment analysis, and custom reports (Premium).

This map radius tool was definitely created with a more professional use in mind, but I found it super helpful in planning a day trip.

An isochrone map from the OALLEY Map Radius Tool
A Driving Radius Map from OALLEY, showing travel 1.5 hours from New London, CT

How to Use OALLEY Map Radius Tool:

  1. Enter an address
  2. Enter a distance or travel time
  3. Hit “Compute”

If you explore the app documentation, you’ll find reference to two new (to me) terms used in geography and urban planning that are interesting as they relate to planning a road trip.

  • Isochrone: A line connecting points related to arriving at the same time
  • Isodistance: The distance you can realistically travel given road condition, traffic, and other factors.

Other Ways to Use A Radius Map

Woman points to a location on map
A Radius Map tool is helpful in planning self-guided walking tours, too.

In addition to using a map radius tool like Radius: Distance from Me and Oalley to plan a fun day-trip, you could use it to plan:

  • A hyper-local trip to create a self-guided walking tour
  • Longer road trips, say several hours drive away
  • Reasonable expectations and options on a multi-day itinerary

Final Thoughts

So, how did it end? Where did my friend’s road trip take her?

After looking at their options on a Radius Map Tool, she and her husband took an hour-and-a-half drive to explore a beautiful New England farm town in southern New Hampshire.

It was a lovely destination that might not have otherwise been on their radar.

How far do you like to travel for a day trip?

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This article may contain affiliate links. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, please see the following Disclosure.

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

2 thoughts on “Simple Driving Radius Map Helps Plan An Amazing Day Trip

  • Avatar
    August 29, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    I like the idea of using an app like this to plan day trips. I had no idea these existed. This shows how bad I am using apps! I am getting better though.


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