Are there any tools (be it off-line or on-line ones or software or phone apps or online planner) that is capable for suggesting alternative route for my journey or travelling.

The reason is because sometime, the following can happen and disrupt my journey or travel.

  • Heavy Traffic Jam
  • Vehicle Accident
  • Riots
  • Nature disaster (e.g. tsunami or nuclear meltdown)
  • Other disruption that will spoil my journey or travel mood.

I want to know if it is possible using these tools to help me and recommend me an alternative route so that I can maximize my enjoyment and reduce this disruption to my journey or travel. It would be great if it can offer me many different alternatives routes.

  • 6
    what kind of route? on the road? for hikers? Finding a detour would mean you already determined your original route. So what tool did you use for it? Don't most GPS software offer alternative route, or detour feature?
    – Vince
    Jan 8 '13 at 8:58
  • 2
    Agree with @Vince: Almost all modern GPS devices have such a function. Jan 8 '13 at 10:20
  • I agree with both of you but not all provide traffic or other updates.
    – Karlson
    Jan 8 '13 at 14:03
  • A good answer also depends on the place you live. I have some nice apps but I don't know if they will work for you. Jan 8 '13 at 21:54

Ok. Let's start with some disclaimers. The information provided below applies to the US and Canada only, though most GPS devices including the ones listed are likely to have maps and ability to guide you in other parts of the world. If anyone tested this outside those locales please let feel free to update the answer as needed.

  • A lot of new in-car GPS systems are also linked to the system providing satellite radio which in addition your "regularly scheduled programming" provide you with traffic updates, which are available for you GPS. Having that and the option to use best traffic route will solve your problem. 2 issues: 1. It's not free. 2. It's about 15 minutes delayed.
  • Other GPS devices like Garmin Nuvi offer you free HD traffic, though I found it to be reliable only in or around major cities.
  • Android or iPhone give you ability to have multiple GPS navigation applications available on the devices. My personal favorites are: Google Maps and Navigator and Waze. Both of them have reliable information on current traffic and can provide you alternatives. One issue with WAZE is that as a newer application reliability of maps is sometimes suspect although you have the ability to correct that and submit reports to them which are being corrected promptly (tested) but given that it allows you to get traffic updates with about 1 minute delay at the most and they are being reported by people who are on the road I still use it a lot.
  • I've been using Google Maps Navigation on Android, and I'm under impression that they do update ETA, but seems that they do not re-route in reaction to changing traffic. Correct me if I'm wrong.
    – vartec
    Jan 8 '13 at 16:07
  • @vartec I think you're right. It just always gives a traffic optimal route from the get go.
    – Karlson
    Jan 8 '13 at 16:31

I am a big fan of GPS for its positioning capabilities. When it comes to navigating, I haven't found a optimal app or tool yet. I actually developed a dislike of satnav devices. Usually the navigation steps appear to be very bad if you follow them in an area you know. So that might apply to unknown areas as well.

I might be old fashioned, but this one of the reasons I still prefer the good old map as ideal navigation tool. They provide the oversight you miss when navigating with a gps unit or route planner. Being a gadget lover I combine my love for good old maps and gadgets with OpenStreetMaps

Last year I actually lost quite some time following my gps unit in a mountain range in France. After 7 hours driving only 100 km I was so fed up that I search for a map on my iPad and found the Michelin Map of France. I find this a brilliant app. It combines telling you your position with the oversight a map provides. The app actually combines different scale levels, allowing optimal zooming.
The disadvantage of the iPad is that positioning is not done by a real GPS, but requires internet connection to give you your position. I was told that Android tablets do have a real GPS unit installed. There are OSM maps for android.

  • +1, GPS software itineraries always need to be reviewed, I wouldn't fully trust their detour suggestion
    – Vince
    Feb 7 '13 at 7:46

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