How to plan a route in Google Maps and export it to Gpx / your phone

I find google maps an excellent tool for planning cycle routes along roads which I know, and using this method you can convert your planned route to a .gpx file.

If you are reading this you may also want to check out our main website Beds for Cyclists which will help you find cycle friendly places to stay when touring on two wheels.

A .gpx file can be used on a satnav such as Garmin or a Mio cyclo. If like me you don’t have a dedicated satnav device, you can import the gpx file onto your phone for turn by turn navigation.


Plan Your Route

Head over to Google Maps, select the cycle option and start planning a route.

Once you are happy with the route, copy the page’s URL link in the address bar to your clipboard.

Convert to gpx

Open up a new tab and goto http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/convert_input

You can ignore most the options, just select Gpx and  paste the Google Maps URL into the box labelled “provide the URL of a file on the Web” and then press the Convert button


use gpsvisualizer.com to convert google maps routes to gpx files

use gpsvisualizer.com to convert google maps routes to gpx files

A new page will display which will give you the option to download the file. 


Offline Navigation on your Phone (Android only)

Unfortunately this step is for android users only, there must be a similar app for iOS. If someone knows of one then please let me know.

Download OsmAnd, this will allow you to display the gpx file along with turn by turn voice navigation. OsmAnd also allows you to download an area of mapping onto your phone for offline use. I critical requirement for any cyclist out in the wilderness.

Once you have downloaded OsmAnd you’ll need to download the mapping for your particular area. You can download the entire UK mapping however this is around 500mb so smaller areas grouped by county are also available.

To transfer the gpx file, connect your phone to your computer via USB. Once connected you should be able to browse the files stored on your phone’s sdcard/internal memory. Have a look for a folder called OsmAnd, inside it there may be a tracks folder. If you can’t find a tracks folder then create one (right click, create new folder). You want to paste the gpx file into the tracks folder.

Now open OsmAnd back up, click the Menu button, select Map Layers, select GPX track

If you have any problems importing the gpx file to OsmAnd follow these instructions  https://code.google.com/p/osmand/wiki/HowToViewGPXTracks


Tips and Tricks

I found keeping the display switched on all the time was a real battery drainer. I tend to only switch the screen on when needed, the voice navigation lets you know when a turn is coming up.

You may also want to disable any passwords on the lock screen, even pattern passwords can be tricky on two wheels.

Lastly, don’t blindly follow your satnav, use your common sense or you may end up like this guy .


Recommended GPS

Garmin make a range of excellent gps units which allow you to import gpx files.

The Garmin Edge 200 is the cheapest & smallest in the range and allows you to follow a breadcrumb (no mapping)

Or the Garmin Edge 1000 is the do it all deluxe version with colour screen allowing you to see the mapping.


Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Touring articles & tips