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Where can I find free printable road maps online? I sometimes go on trips which require driving from town to town - before the internet, I'd have had to buy a basic road atlas for this. Now I can simply print out driving instructions from Google Maps. Nonetheless, it'd be helpful to have a map of at least the major roads in the area I'm heading in case I go off route, and to make sense of the instructions and roadside signs. Where can I find this? Free would be preferable.

I've taken to printing off Google Maps, but this is a pain - it's hard to get the right area in Google's print dialogue, and I tend to have to zoom out so much the road names cease to appear. I end up taking screenshots of different sections of the area and printing them out on separate pages but this is hardly elegant.

(I've tried Open Street Map but didn't find it any better than Google Maps - though I'm not that familiar with it.)

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I think those who have suffered enough with google cannot overestimate the value of this question... –  mithy May 29 '12 at 15:09
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I assume your primary concern is free, as in beer. Free, as in freedom, would be only a secondary goal (and probably much harder to find--I suspect most map data has IP restrictions on it) –  Flimzy May 29 '12 at 16:31
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How about local tourist information boroughs? Free comes for a price, Google get paid by the advertisers. Geo-cartography is an expensive hobby, you know.... –  littleadv May 29 '12 at 16:45
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When you say you tried Open Street Map, what do you mean? Only there are lots of different services build on top of it... I'm guessing it wasn't printing out the raw .osm XML files? –  Gagravarr May 30 '12 at 9:46
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"When you say you tried Open Street Map, what do you mean? Only there are lots of different services build on top of it... I'm guessing it wasn't printing out the raw .osm XML files? " - I meant that I've visited openstreetmap.org and used the 'Export as map image' option therein. It's better than Google Maps, but yields images like imgur.com/jXms8 which aren't really usable as road maps as per my question because only a very few roads are labeled. –  tog22 May 30 '12 at 19:42
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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I use ViaMichelin to plan my itineraries. The website is a bit more clumsy than Google Maps, but the itineraries and ancillary information are of a better quality. In ViaMichelin you also get maps. An overview maps of the whole trip as well as detailed maps for the different steps. These are the same maps as the Michelin maps you would buy on paper. Compared to Google, it is easier to zoom in and to print a given area.

The more difficult part is related to printing. It is hard to fit a whole trip on an A4 page. Even for a smaller trip, such as e.g. Brussels - Frankfurt/Main (+- 400km) it is hard to obtain a map that is still useable and readable. Moreover, if you take into consideration the price of colour ink or toner, apparently free maps come at a cost.

When it comes to long distance travel, my personal conclusion is that there are no (free) online resources, which might be able to compete with traditional maps and atlases. If you do not want to spend too much money on maps and atlases, you can do the following. There are road atlases covering Europe or parts of it. These are updated every year. When the updates are available or about to come out, the "older" ones are sold with huge discounts. These atlases are not "dernier cri" anymore, but remain very accurate and reliable. But, before a trip, you can always cross-check with ViaMichelin or alike.

Things are different if you are interested in local information. You can have destinaiton specific resources such as Get-a-map in the United Kingdom. As suggested in the comments, you might also be able to find free online maps made available by local tourist offices.

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Thanks, that looks substantially better than Google Maps, though as you say not perfect. Accepting unless anyone provides a better answer! –  tog22 Jun 9 '12 at 18:07
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As you are in the UK, your single best source for maps and atlases should be the Ordnance Survey.

The Getamap part of their site lets you tailor the map to your exact requirements and print it (or have it sent to you)

It's pretty good - have used it to generate maps for the exact are I will be camping/trekking in, with the detail I want included.

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Thanks, good answer for the UK itself, though I was also looking for ones for abroad... –  tog22 Jun 9 '12 at 18:05
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