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.
Editor’s note: This post was updated in October 2023 to keep it up to date and most helpful!
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an affiliate, I earn a small commission every time you make a qualifying purchase through one of my affiliate links (if applicable).
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.
- Why Use A Map Radius Tool?
- How to Use a Map Radius Tool
- Map Radius Tool Options
- Other Ways to use a Map Radius Tool
- Final Thoughts on Simple Map Radius Tool
- What’s Next?
Planning an Impromptu Driving Trip
One day, a friend of mine, Nicole Arnold, 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 on Google maps, but I also knew using a driving radius map tool would be the best way to help her plan her day trip.
That way, she could plan her trip from a central point and see her options for nearby attractions and points of interest using the radius functionality.
Continue reading to find out how you can use a travel-time map or distance radius maps for your next trip, below.
Related: Have you considered these Advantages & Disadvantages of Travelling by Car?
Download your FREE Step-by-Step Daytrip Planner (below)
so you can plan an awesome day trip!
Why Use a Driving Radius Map Tool?
With so many options for a road trip, a driving radius map tool can help you determine what’s within range from your current location.
Because, let’s face it, part of the problem when planning a road trip is deciding where to go! Once you know that, you can then search booking.com, expedia.com, and hotels.com to compare prices and amenities if you want to stay overnight.
Mapping out the radius of a circle from a single point 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 into the other. That way, you can rotate the compass and mark around the center point. The radius of the circle will show you the potential destinations within the driving distance.
You’ll be setting the total distance between the two sides equal to the distance you’d like to travel on the map’s key. Then, a quick spin of the compass will show you the destinations in range.
You can then draw the straight line distance (“as the crow flies”) and figure out the easiest ways to get there from your starting point.
The problem with physically drawing a circle map is you’ll still have to use a mapping software to figure out the travel distance and most efficient routes.
If you don’t have a compass, you can make a more rudimentary compass with a tack and a piece of string tied to the bottom of 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. Keep reading to learn more about that.
Best Radius Map Apps & Tools
There’s an easier way to draw radius circles, like using an app on your smartphone or personal computer.
Doing so may also give you real-time data, optimal commute times, and route optimization, depending on third-party software you choose.
Here are some great radius map apps for your phone and other mapping tool ideas you can use to plan a road trip.
Radius Maps for Android
There are several free radius app tools for Android and IOS.
One app that I like for my iPhone (IOS) is “Radius: Distance From Me.”
It’s a simple but very powerful tool!
It highlights a circle around the towns and destinations within a certain distance from a location you specify. Radius: Distance From Me is a tool that offers the most basic, convenient features.
It measures distance in:
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
- Indicate your starting destination or allow GPS to locate you.
- Indicate how far you want to go and what unit of measure (kilometers, meters, miles, or feet).
- Hit the search arrow.
The “Radius: Distance From Me” app draws a radius around your location on the map.
This will show you all of the streets, towns and areas of interest you might consider exxploring.
You can zoom in or out for detail or to get a bird’s-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. Estimate less if you’re traveling back roads. This assumes you’re traveling at the speed limit.
OALLEY Map Radius Tool (Mobile Friendly)
OALLEY is a full-featured, interactive application, designed with more comprehensive options.
With this tool, you can:
- Measure radius based on distance or drive time (excluding traffic conditions)
- 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 show polygon drive-time maps 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).
Someone definitely created this map radius tool with a more professional use in mind.
I found it super helpful in planning a day trip!
How to Use OALLEY Map Radius Tool:
- Enter an address.
- Enter a distance or travel time.
- Hit “Compute”.
If you explore the app documentation, you’ll find reference to two terms used in geography and urban planning.
These are interesting metrics 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
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
Other Essentials for Your Next Road Trip
In addition a tool to plan the route itself, you’ll want to consider some other essential driving tools when you plan your next drive. Here are our picks.
Worried about a lack of visibility when driving in the evening? If so, then you’ll want to consider investing in the Lanmodo Night Vision System .
This amazing product includes the latest it premium night vision technology. The retail price covers free worldwide shipping plus a high definition backup camera for added safety.
You also get everything you need to quickly and easily set up this amazing device inside your personal vehicle.
That includes the following:
- Charger for your cigarette lighter
- In-car adapter
- Non-slip mat
- Nulti-functional input cable
- Suction cup
More than that, though, this full color, high resolution, 8.2″ screen has impressive 360-degree views. You can even use it on rainy and foggy days.
This helps to improve your overall field of vision under dangerous driving conditions. Because the last thing you want on a road trip is to feel unsafe.
When driving over long distances, it can be difficult to stay focused and entertained. This is especially true as many of your favorite radio stations are continually fading in and out of listening range.
However, you can easily remedy this issue when you download some of the fantastic audiobooks available at AudioBooksNow.
Whether you’re an avid reader or someone who hasn’t picked up a book in years, they have the perfect plan for you!
Simply choose among the millions of best-selling books that they have on offer. Then, you can begin the adventure of a lifetime.
Plus, with their affordable Club Pricing Plan, you pay a small monthly fee after an initial 30-day free trial. Then, enjoy 50% off your first purchase of the month.
You’ll also get an additional 35-40% off of every additional purchase thereafter.
Regardless of the cell phone carrier you use, you’ll never be able to get a constant signal throughout the United States. Therefore, you can’t completely rely on your mobile device to provide you with accurate driving directions.
That’s why the Garmin Drive 51 Navigation System is so useful.
This system will automatically update your directions if you get lost.
In addition, it’s well priced and features reliable GPS navigation that rarely drops a signal. It also comes with a wealth of maps that are preloaded onto your device.
So, with the click of a button, your selected route will pop up on the high-definition, five-inch dual-orientation, 480 X 272-pixel screen.
Finally, the Garmin has a display area that will automatically update you about any treacherous weather conditions that might arise during your journey.
Regardless of how meticulous you are, spills are going to happen.
Therefore, you’ll need a compact but powerful device to efficiently clean up your car.
How about something like this highly portable, easy to use, 12-volt HOTOR mini Car Vacuum?
It’s exceptionally well-designed. It also comes in three fantastic colors and is long-lasting.
This high-powered device is strong enough to pick up any mess you throw at it.
It also has a 16.4-foot extension cord that features a built-in car charger at one end and a bright LED light. It’s perfectly complemented by three distinct nozzle heads.
To keep the surrounding air free from allergens, this nifty vacuum also features a stainless steel HEPA filter. Plus, a nice little, easy-t-detach dust cup makes cleanup a breeze.
This is a must-have!
If you are ever unlucky enough to experience car trouble during a road trip, you’ll want a comprehensive tool kit to help you get back on the road.
This Cartman 148 Piece Tool Set will help you do just that.
It’s well-stocked with 148 essential tools and has received tons of positive reviews from happy customers.
All the items in this set are also heat treated and chrome plated for exceptional durability. Additionally, all Cartman products are designed to exceed ANSI critical standard.
The best thing is it neatly stows away inside their custom-designed case.
I love road trips. But, it can be difficult to stay connected when you’re constantly on the move and your phone never has a signal.
However, WeBoost Cell Phone Signal Booster is here to help.
Since it covers up to 1,500 square feet of space, it results in:
- Fewer dropped calls
- Faster internet speeds
- Improved sound quality.
It even has a desktop antenna that can easily be placed atop any flat service.
This booster features tool-free installation and is fully compatible with any cell phone carrier in the US. It’s even 5G ready!
Final Thoughts on Using A Simple Driving Radius Map
So, how did it end? Where did my friend’s road trip take her?
After looking at the radius option 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.
Which got me to thinking…Sales teams and account management professionals often use a third-party program to cover their sales territories. These proximity tools help business owners with sales territory planning, and ensures coverage of new sales territories within specific distances.
But a distance radius or drive time map has a secondary use, if you’re the adventurous sort. It’s a great way to plan your next impromptu road trip.
Enjoy your travels!
For more road trip planning, check out these helpful articles:
- A Beginner’s Guide to Road Trips
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Car Travel
- How to Plan the Best Outfit for a Road Trip
- Tips for Long Drives: Plan the Perfect Road Trip
- How to Organize Your Car for a Road Trip
- Road Trip Food List: Bring these Delicious Snacks on the Road
- Road Trip Necessities: Helpful Tips to Prepare for Your Road Trip
- Best Family Packing List for Road Trips
For inspiration on where to take some great road trips, look here:
- Road Trip Essentials for a UK Driving Tour
- Best US Road Trip on Route 66, Chigaco to LA
- Scenic Self-Drive: Best Routes in Canada
- 9 Gorgeous New England Road Trips
- Take A Dreamy Drive from San Francisco to San Diego
- Road Trip from Boston to Nova Scotia – Where to Overnight
- The Ultimate Spain Road Trip: Driving from Barcelona to Madrid
And remember, road trips don’t have to be just by car. Here are some other great options:
- 10 Things to Know Before You Rent a VW Bus
- RV Essentials Checklist – Planning Camper Trips
- Planning a Fun RVing Vacation with Your Grandkids
- Safety Tips for Traveling with Your Grandchildren
- Scenic Motorcycle Tours in the US
How far do you like to travel on a day trip? What mode of transportation do you prefer? Let me know in the comments below
This article may contain affiliate links. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. For additional information, please see the following Disclosure.