Sometimes just having a map in front of you is not enough. Sometimes you need to know which of those coloured lines it is that you actually have to follow on that map and that is when a Route Map is required.

Clearly Defined Routes

A Route map can show any type of thoroughfare, from land routes such as roads, cycle lanes and footpaths, to shipping lanes and air routes. The key element is that the routes themselves have to be clearly defined and must stand out easily from the background mapping.

The sample below is a Bus Route map that needed to show multiple routes, along with their stops. The routes are clearly defined by their colour and are identified in an accompanying key in the corner of the map. Furthermore, the background mapping has been greyscaled in order to make the colourful routes stand out.

Bus Route map

Bus Route map with multiple routes

Adding Routes to Maps

There are two ways to add a route to a map. The route may already exist in a KML or GPX file format which can then be overlaid directly onto the mapping. However, it is also quite typical that a cartographer may be sent a physical image with the routes on which they must digitize onto the map, in a more long-winded process.

The route itself is obviously a mandatory inclusion on a Route Map, but there are many different things that can be added to help navigate along the route.

The map below was made for a Triathlon. In this case the length of the various routes and stages are included in the legend, as well as the start point, transition zones, drink stations, marker buoys and, of course, the (undoubtedly at this point very welcome) finish line are all shown.

Triathlon Map

Triathlon Route Map with Legend

A Route map can be printed out in bulk volumes, perhaps for a large event such as a marathon, or a charitable walk, but sometimes we print individual maps out for lone adventurers who just want a record of their journey.

Walking Route map

So regardless of whether you need to navigate by land, sea, or air, a route map is what you need to help you get to where you need to go.