Sideroads

Prepare for adventure!

What is Sideroads?

Sideroads is the definitive trip planner and trip companion app for the obsessive trip planner. It is designed to be the place to gather and organize all the information you gathered during trip planning, so everything is readily available at your fingertips when you're on the road.

Have you ever found yourself writing down GPS coordinates for some obscure point of interest? Saving off GPX or KML files to guide you to that unknown wonder in the wilderness? Writing down a detailed day-by-day plan for your hard-earned vacation? Wishing you could visualize your entire trip in one place? If so, this is the app for you: Sideroads was designed by obsessive trip planners to help you prepare for your own adventures.

Sideroads is currently available on Windows 10 and on Android.

What it is not

Sideroads does not book your flights for you, or provide a list of the world's train and ferry schedules, or scan your email inbox for logistics, or apply Big Data algorithms to your private data. It does not count your footsteps or monitor your heart rate. It is not a replacement for Yelp, TripAdvisor, or for the many wonderful travel websites and apps with which modernity has gifted us. Nor can it read your mind. You already have apps for all that.

The price tag

Sideroads is free and fully functional. It will display in-app advertisements on some pages. A one-time in-app purchase of Sideroads Premium will remove those ads. Further, Sideroads Premium also provides access to premium features such as Trip Sync, Trip Sharing, and Track Sync.

Planning your trip

Your adventures begin by creating a new trip from the Trips page. As you plan your trip, you use the Calendar page to add activities for the trip, in a convenient day-by-day schedule.

If you're flying, renting a car, staying in hotels or rental accommodations, or simply eying some restaurants or stores to visit, you can use the Logistics page to store all the information you'll need during the trip. When you add restaurants and stores to the Logistics page, you can then reference them by adding dining and shopping activities.

The Maps page gives you a whole trip visual overview, as well as day-by-day views of where you'll be. It can also be used for simple navigation.

During your trips, the Weather page will tell you what kind of weather to expect at each location you'll be visiting in your Calendar.

Activities

Activity types include hikes, drives, bike rides, tours, snorkels, dives, or even meetings with long-lost relatives. You can set times and durations on activities, allowing you to figure out whether a given day might be over-booked (aren't they all?) You can even mark activities for sunrise or sunset, and the activity time will be set automatically depending on your location and the time of year.

Activities can be color-coded to reflect different categories: for example, you might use green for must-do activities and yellow for activities that you might engage in if you're making good time that day.

Activities can be moved up and down through context menus, or by dragging and dropping on Windows. If your trip needs to be re-ordered, days can be moved up or down, and you can add or delete days or change your dates entirely by editing your trip.

Automatic activities show up to fill in the gaps in your day. For example, if you have a rental car and will be visiting several points of interest during a long day of driving, the app will automatically add drive activities between the respective locations. Automatic drives will capture offline directions from Google Maps, as well as expected distance and duration. In cases where cell phone connectivity is limited and you don't have offline maps, those directions will come in handy.

If desired, automatic activities can be disabled by editing the trip and toggling the automatic activity setting to off.

Alternative days

For any given day in your calendar, you might have several different itineraries in mind depending on unplanned circumstances. Maybe the weather will turn bad. Maybe that scary-but-exciting road through the National Monument hasn't been graded lately and your rental car doesn't have 4WD. Maybe your wife or children are tired after that long hike the previous day. Things happen, and you won't really know for sure until you're there.

To be even more prepared for such eventualities, you can easily create alternative days from the Calendar page. Each alternative day is effectively its own independent, parallel schedule for the day, and you can easily switch between them just by tapping on the tab. That way you can easily prepare for eventualities like rainy days and tired limbs.

Attachments and URLs

If you're anything like us, you won't be sticking to the marked trails. You'll be exploring seldom-visited places, while preparing your own routes using Google Earth or GPSies. Your hikes may not even exist on AllTrails, HikingProject, or WikiLoc. And you may not have a cellular signal once you're there.

Sideroads facilitates this kind of adventure travel by allowing you to attach files to activities. This allows you to save topo maps, Google Earth snapshots, or track files representing where you want to go. The app has built-in support for GPX, KML and KMZ files, which you can attach to any activity and visualize later. This is most obviously useful for hiking, but can also come in handy for custom road trip routes. If Google Maps isn't giving you the scenic route driving directions you want, you can add a custom drive activity and just attach your own track file.

You can also attach URLs to activities. This is helpful for sites that provide directions or good descriptions of activity like hikes, allowing others reviewing your trip to read the same reference material you did. Keep in mind that attached URLs will only work when your device is online. For sites you'll want to consult offline, print them as PDF files and add them as attachments.

On Windows, full drag and drop is supported for attaching files from your local disk, as well as images from web browsers.

Import / Export

While you may plan your trip on one device, it's likely you'll be viewing it on other devices during your trip. To facilitate this, you can export trips from the trips page, transfer the file to another device, then import the trip there.

Trip Sync

If you have purchased Sideroads Premium, you can sync your trips to cloud storage. This provides a convenient backup mechanism, and it also allows you to easily sync trips between your devices.

In order to use Trip Sync, you will need to sign into a cloud storage provider: currently Microsoft OneDrive is supported. To sync between Windows and Android devices, you will need to purchase Sideroads Premium in both the Microsoft Store and the Google Play Store. Once you have Premium on all relevant devices, simply sign in using the same Microsoft account and you will be able to sync your trips.

Uninstalling the app or wiping a device will not delete trips from cloud storage. However, deleting a trip on a sync-enabled device will also delete it in the cloud, and that deletion will propagate to all synced devices. Deleting a trip directly in cloud storage will also cause it to be deleted on all devices.

When a trip is present in the cloud, it will be displayed with a cloud badge icon in the Trips page. When a trip is present in the cloud without a local copy, the trip will be displayed slightly grayed out. In that case, as well as when a trip has a newer version available in the cloud, a download button will be available to update the trip. Pressing that button will install the newer trip and overwrite any local changes. This means you need to be a little careful about versioning your trips if editing on multiple devices.

When a trip has local changes that can be uploaded to the cloud, an upload button will be available for the trip. Pressing that button will upload a copy of the local trip to the cloud as the latest version. Once other devices sync that change, they will present a download button for the trip, allowing them to install the latest version.

Trips are never uploaded or downloaded automatically. It is up to you to determine which device has the latest version and ensure important data is not overwritten when syncing. To protect against data loss, the last three versions of a trip are kept in cloud storage, and can be recovered manually if necessary.

Trip Sharing

In addition to syncing trips between your devices, you can also share trips with other users. For this to work, both you and those users will need to have purchased Sideroads Premium.

Trip sharing is accessed by accessing the Sharing page from the Trips page. You can share all of your trips with another user, or just an individual trip. You can share trips just for viewing, or allow users to edit and upload new versions of trips. You can also stop sharing trips, or reject trips that have been shared with you.

It is important to note that when sharing a trip with another user, you must reference that user by the email address associated with their Microsoft account. This is because like Trip Sync, Trip Sharing is implementing using OneDrive: specifically shared folders.

Tracking

Sideroads includes an easy way to track and record your location as you go about your activities. This allows you to backtrack to a previously visited location during a hike or a drive, as well as review your routes later.

To enable tracking, simply press the tracking button in any map view, or use the toggle button on the app's hamburger menu. When tracking is enabled, your route will be recorded continuously by the app as a background service. When viewing any map inside the app, the current track will be displayed in bright red. Previously recorded tracks are displayed using a darker shade, and will be visible on the Tracking page map view during the same day they were recorded.

While hiking or driving, you may wish to record the location of points of interest in your current track. You can do this using the Add Waypoint button on the map toolbar. You can also rename waypoints you created earlier by tapping them.

If tracking is disabled for two hours, or if the distance between the last tracked point and the next point is greater than half a mile, the app will save the current track and begin a fresh track. This can be triggered manually by selecting the "save track" option from the map page's menu. The current track can also be discarded by selecting the "clear track" option.

Saved tracks are kept in your device's database, and can be viewed from the Tracking page's Tracks pivot. Tracks are displayed year by year and are kept until you delete them. Uninstalling the app or wiping the device will delete these tracks.

When you're done with a hike or a drive, you will have to turn tracking off manually. The app can't read your mind! If you forget to turn off tracking, you might end up recording something you hadn't intended, such as a drive after a hike. You can fix that by saving the track to your desktop, editing the track to remove extraneous track points, importing the track back into the Tracks pivot, then deleting the original track.

It is worth noting that enabling tracking might cause your mobile device to consume significantly more power than usual.

Track Sync

If you have purchased Sideroads Premium, the app allows you to sync your tracks to cloud storage. This provides a simple backup mechanism, and it also allows you to easily sync tracks between your devices.

In order to use Track Sync, you will need to sign into a cloud storage provider: currently Microsoft OneDrive is supported. To sync between Windows and Android devices, you will need to purchase Sideroads Premium in both the Microsoft Store and the Google Play Store. Once you have Premium on all devices, simply sign in using the same Microsoft account and you will be able to sync your tracks.

Uninstalling the app or wiping a device will not delete tracks from cloud storage. However, deleting a track on a sync-enabled device will also delete it in the cloud, and that deletion will propagate to all synced devices. Deleting a track directly from cloud storage will also cause it to be deleted on all devices.

Tracks are uploaded and downloaded automatically, as well as on demand using the sync button on the Tracks page. In addition to recording your movements to a track, you can also manually add tracks to the Tracks page. These tracks must have a time and date associated with each track point in order to be imported successfully.

Track names will default to the names of the origin and destination of the track. Tracks can be renamed to something more specific or more relevant in the Tracks pivot.

Safety first!

Sideroads is not intended to be mission-critical software, and should always be used with a contingency plan in mind. By using Sideroads, you are explicitly agreeing that we are not responsible if something goes wrong on your trip.

If your life depends on some part of Sideroads working perfectly at crunch time, please have a plan B available. You should never have just a single point of failure when lives are on the line!

Some suggestions:

  • Export your trip as a Word document. Even if Sideroads crashes or doesn't run, you might be able to find important trip data in that document.
  • Save key attachments, including any images and track files you'll be using to navigate. Ensure you have an alternative app that can view them in case of necessity.
  • If you're using your phone for navigation, carry extra batteries and at least one extra phone. It's all too easy to drop a phone at the wrong time.
  • Make sure you test absolutely everything prior to setting out.

Making planning easier

To make the planning process easier on Windows, you can drag and drop websites from certain supported sites onto the app. When a supported site is dropped onto Sideroads, the app will automatically scrape information from the site in order to create activities or logistic resources for your trip. For some hiking sites, the app can automatically save track files as well.

The following sites are currently supported for this purpose:

Hikes, Tours, Hotels:

Hikes:

Tours:

Hotels:

Locations: