Posted by Arlo on Jun 12, 2009 under Postcard Valet, Travel, Website

Points of Interest in South America

When Oksana and I got serious about planning our year-long trip, I started bookmarking all the intriguing travel sites as I came across them.  I mean, of course, we’ll see the pyramids in Egypt, walk along the Great Wall of China, and visit the Taj Mahal… assuming we find ourselves wandering anywhere near those places, that is.  But what about those things that hardly anyone even knows about?  The fireflies of Thailand that blink in perfect synch, the starling congregations on Ot Moor, or the Darvaza crater in Turkmenistan?  The things you’ve never heard of are so easy to forget…

While we’re traveling, I want to try to update a map of our progress around the world.  Ideally, some combination of a GPS unit and the Google Maps API would automate the process for us, but at the very least, I’ll update the website myself just to let people know our current location.

This week, I’ve been playing with the Google Maps interface, just to see what I could whip up without any real work.  The results are pretty cool and I liked them enough to go ahead and create a new page on my website.  There’s a permanent button up above on my navigation bar, but here, let me make it easy; Check it out: Destinations.

It’s a good start; there are already a few dozen entries on the map, and I still haven’t quite depleted my store of travel bookmarks.  Go ahead, click around.  If your sense of wonder about the world is at all similar to mine, you’ll probably end up following a few of the handy links.

Already we’re visualizing how best we can use this map.  Oksana has recommended that we change the colors of the pins to green as we visit each site – a great idea that will very quickly show what we’re up to.  Also, as more pins are put on the map, I can’t help but notice when they start to cluster.  I imagine that whenever we face a fork in the road, we’ll take the path that travels towards the biggest group of pins!

If you have a minute, take a look at the map, down Argentina way.  See how we’re using different types of pins already?  We’re going to use the “person” icon to remind us where we should go to visit friends and family, the “film” icon to point towards our own video podcasts (I used the Transient Books video as an example), and the little “camera” icon to share the photos we take.  Google makes it easy to embed YouTube videos, image tags, etc.  This could be a pretty neat document when we’re done.

As I said, right now we have a couple dozen points of interest already saved on the map.  I’ve got enough ideas – mostly common one, but a few more  “off the beaten path” ones, too – to round out the first hundred or so, but I hope to have at least two or three hundred before we set off.  We don’t want to pass right by something cool just because we forgot to write it down!

If you’ve been somewhere really neat, heard of a place that sparked your imagination, or even if you simply come across something on the internet and it reminds you of our upcoming trip, please, please, please, send me a link!  I’d love to consider it for one of our Destinations!