Spreadsheet Updated – Places We Want to See

Over 18 months ago I began using a spreadsheet to keep track of places Karen and I might want to see once we hit the road.  Here is a link to the April 2015 update post.  Once we are retired it will be nice just to move around the country in directions that have no destination.  However, we expect there will be times when we are heading to a specific location because of a workcamping job, to escape the weather, family visits and more. Reading all the wonderful blogs others maintain sure is providing a great list of sites we don’t want to drive past.

Karen sends me links to places she is reading about. We both have different interests at times so that adds to the list. The spreadsheet has been a great place to park our dreams for now.  Don’t worry, I’m not planning out every stop we will make three years from now and over the course of our travels. We get enough of that here in our working years.

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When someone writes or tells us about their favorite campsite of all time, that goes on the list. When we learn about an out of the way special place, that’s going to make the list.  When we research the top 10 places, such as civil war battlefields or dog friendly beaches, that’s going on the list. I think you get the idea.

I decided to include zip codes, city names and state because this can be imported into Google Maps and sorted. A location in the country with a lot of pinned spots will be a target destination, perhaps to find a volunteer or workamping position so we can stay and explore. To learn how to import Excel Spreadsheet data into Google Maps I suggest searching YouTube for a video.

Google Maps SpeadsheetImported stops from the spreadsheet to Google Maps.

Thanks to you more experienced travelers, our family and friends we have been able to add many locations. I decided to have a column with links back to where we heard about the information. Bloggers do a great job of describing their visit, places to see and eat, roads they travel and other important information they learned while in the area. Again, don’t worry, we are leaving much up to our own future explorations.

I played with the settings in Google Maps and figured out how to change the colors of the map pins to display our ratings, one through three, in different colors. I use a zero for miscellaneous locations such as good winter spots and RV repair places others have highly rated.

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In this example yellow are our must see places.

Snap 2016-05-09 at 18.12.29.png Here is what you would see if you moved the curser over an individual marker.

Or you can even ask Google Maps to display your data table and select a location from the list.

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Of all the blogs I’ve read and follow, I have to give Living Our Dream Blog top prize for organization of places to visit. If you’re not into making lists, then just bookmark Paul and Margery Zeller’s blog. On the right sidebar can be found the most amazingly detailed information about their travels. Dee, over at the Tumbleweed Blog, kept track of their travels in a spreadsheet which included actual campsite numbers. I downloaded her spreadsheet for future reference. I also included links within my own spreadsheet of remarkable destinations such as Camper Chronicles’ detailed descriptions of what Quartzite (the Q) is all about. I looked nearly 10 minutes for their blog post on Surviving the Q then recalled I had the link in my spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet evolved into a rating system that can be sorted based on our must see locations down to sites to see if we have time.  I’m also using it as a place to store potential winter/summer spots as well as RV parks, repair locations, BLM and free camping areas of interest.  So far, I’ve added 204 locations that made the list.  That’s over thirteen months of travel if one was to simply stay two days in each location.  Wow, this is a big country.  We plan to move around slowly, yes even the first year. I could see the current list alone providing more than two years of ideas for stops. I read a forum post from someone I trust who made an educated guess that only 20% of full time travelers remained on the road after five years. We hope to be one of the 20% and run out of places to put on the list, if that’s possible.

For kicks, I imported the Tumbleweed Blogs spreadsheet, changed the markers to include displaying the date of the stop and the marker colors to show how long they stayed. I may add a few columns to my own spreadsheet once we start traveling. I liked how Tumbleweed had notes for wifi connection, views and more. They also listed the site number they stayed at. I could see importing data by year into a map in order to post a photo of that years travels.  I had left Dee a comment on her blog where she said it was okay to post information from her spreadsheet.

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Please let us know if you have any one place that is a must see so we can put it on the list. For those writing blogs I want to say thank you because your trail blazing is making this dreaming stage move along and are providing wonderful ideas. I am listening when you say this is a lifestyle and not just a long vacation!

On a family topic, Karen made it back from her two week stay visiting her family in Michigan. She tells me she does not want to leave town without me ever again. She had lost her phone (in her luggage) so I was not able to check on her during the trip home until her overnight stop near Amana Iowa.  I also was not able to tell her to take the exit at Bristol Indiana and visit the Augusta RV factory.  It’s good to have her home. I cleaned the house, washed all the laundry and went grocery shopping so now I’m on her good boy list for awhile!

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11 thoughts on “Spreadsheet Updated – Places We Want to See

  1. Pingback: Spreadsheet Update – Places We Want to Visit | Our Future in an RV

  2. Pingback: Spreadsheet of Places We Might Visit | Our Future in an RV

  3. David, I’ll try and get this right. I should probably do a post on how I import the data. There are several YouTube videos on it. Just google “how to import from Excel into Google Maps”. To just answer the question, you can use whatever column from your spreadsheet you want, just as long as it’s something google maps can find. Such as City, State, Zip Code or whatever. I’ve not tried building a map from a column labeled Place, which would be something like the Kansas City Zoo, or Yellowstone National Park.

    Here are the steps I follow:

    Go to google maps (you have to have a google account) or you can also type maps.google.com in your browser location.
    There is a drop down menu on the top left next to the search blank. It’s a bunch of lines, click on it.
    Select Your Places
    Select Maps
    Select Create New Map (located at bottom left of screen)
    You can add a title on the map if you click on where it says Untitled Map
    Select Import which is in blue text
    Click on Select a File From Your Computer
    Then find your Excel file where data is stored.
    There will be two selection you have to make from a list. The first selection will be which column from your Excel spreadsheet you want to use to mark the location on the map (for example I use zip code but could also use the city name or whatever.)
    The next selection you will be asked to make is which column to use to name your map markers.

    Then just select finish and everything in imported. What is cool is it also imports all your other data so when you hover the curser over the map pin the entire list of data is displayed. You can even do route planning this way which is another topic of its own. Basically, you just drag a line between you map pins and it builds a route with way points.

    Again, I suggest there are good videos on You Tube to better describe the process. I also understand there are third party software tools for importing data but I’ve not looked into them.

    Start off with a very basic spreadsheet with a couple columns and rows and give it a try. Over time, I think I’ve come up with a pretty good list of what to put in the spreadsheet and hope you can see the columns I’m using in the pictures I’ve posted.

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  4. Morning Mark,
    A suggestion for your place to visit list. Mark, I grew up in Camdenton MO., and my favorite place to explore was Ha Ha Tonka State Park. It just outside of town on the Lake of the Ozarks. Lots of trails, caves, a large spring, and an island. Also the main attraction is the ruins up on a high bluff of an old family mansion that burned in the forties.
    Enjoy your postings –
    https://mostateparks.com/park/ha-ha-tonka-state-park

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    • Thanks for the link John. I’d actually been to Ha Ha Tonka and hiked the trail a couple times as well. Glad you reminded me of it so I can put it on the list. Karen is from Michigan, so much of Missouri is new to her even today.

      Do you have any recommendations for a big rig friendly RV park in the area?

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      • In the area and still a good drive. Is Lake of the Ozarks State Park. Electric avail., with water faucets placed incrementally (not on sites). A few long pull through’s and a few back in’s (camper only) that would serve 38′ to 45′. I’ve seen a few Prevost’s and Country Coach’s. Lower tier on lake would be chancy. Recommend checking their site (reserveamerica) map.
        I’ve driven through Bennett Spring State Park, Lebanon MO. (25-30 mi. away) It appeared it would handle the longer rigs. But would need to investigate it better. Currently I’d not want to say it’s ‘big rig’ favorable.
        NOT IN AREA:
        Indian Creek Campground, COE, west of Hannibal MO. Big rig friendly, full hook ups. (RV ‘and’ tow vehicle) Very pretty and well kept. We visited last year and is on our list to return to. It is remote, Monroe City MO, is a 10 or so mile drive to groceries and restaurants.
        Thanks,
        John

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  5. I have been full time for a year and I still just love reading your blog. I wish I had planned as you are doing, but I just didn’t have the time. My decision to go full time was pretty quick and has still gone relatively well, LOL. I really love the way Tumbleweed put together that spreadsheet! I am going to attempt to go back over my travels this past year and do the same. Thanks for sharing your research!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Realgoodbear – Thanks for the complement. Wish we had your year of experience to go along with the planning! I got some good ideas off the Tumbleweed spreadsheet also. I could see having a column or two in order to record info on the good campsites for return trips. They settled in a mobile home down in Florida. Still following their blog and learning from it.

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