Travel Mapping

Tracking Cumulative Travels

Travel Mapping Manual: How to participate in the project


🔗 How to create a user list file

The basic idea is to make a list of highway sections you have traveled and collect them into a plain text file to be submitted to Travel Mapping. The text file will be processed to populate a set of custom stats pages and maps describing your travels.

For examples, you can browse the travel summaries of any of our users.

🔗 First steps with email submission

  1. 🔗 Choose an alphanumeric username.

    Use only English letters (A-Z or a-z), numbers (0-9), and underscores _ in your username, and keep the name at or under 48 characters long. Avoid characters with diacritical marks, and characters from other alphabets; otherwise your file will not be processed.

  2. 🔗 Make a plain text file.

    Name the file username.list, replacing username with the username you chose. For example, if you choose the name highwayguy, name your file highwayguy.list.

  3. 🔗 Make a list of highway sections you have traveled.

    The Highway Browser is designed to help you with this process. The Highway Browser lists all available systems and routes that you can use. For each route, the Highway Browser also provides a list of waypoints that you can use as a start or end point.

    Break up your travels into traveled sections by region and route (we recommend starting with only active systems). For each route section, add one line to your .list file with the following format:

    Region Route Waypoint1 Waypoint2

    For example, if you traveled in the United States on Interstate 70 in Illinois between Exit 52 and the Missouri border, you would put the following line in your file:

    IL I-70 52 MO/IL

    • The region and route combination is indicated on the left after .list name: in the Highway Browser.
    • Click the start point 52 of your travel segment on the table to center the map at this point.
    • Copy the first line of the info window to get the correct name 52.
    • Click on the end point MO/IL or click the waypoint on the map to open the info window and copy the label name MO/IL.
    • The waypoints at the ends of the traveled segment may be listed in either order.

    NEW The .list Tool option helps generating the full .list file line by clicking on the first and last segment of your travel.

    You most likely continued your travel in Missouri. If you left Interstate 70 at Exit 249, you would put the second line in your file:

    MO I-70 MO/IL 249

    • Click the MO I-70 link under Intersecting/Concurrent Routes: on the info window to open the Missouri continuation of Interstate 70 within the Highway Browser.
    • Copy the code behind .list name: for your second line in your .list file.
    • Then click on the border waypoint to catch the first waypoint, and on exit 249 to get the second waypoint.

    NEW The multi-region option helps generating a .list file line which covers a travel on connected routes beyond region borders:

    IL I-70 52 MO I-70 249

    Continue to complete your travels. See below if you need more examples on how to break down your travels into "sections" to enter into the file.

    Note that a mechanism is in place to automatically include concurrent highways and credits you for all of them.

    We recommend starting with a small number of routes and submitting an initial draft to be included in the site update to make sure that you understood the procedure well.

  4. 🔗 Check your work.

    Make sure the following items are correct:

    • Each line has exactly the four or six required fields: Region Route Waypoint1 Waypoint2 or Region1 Route1 Waypoint1 Region2 Route2 Waypoint2
    • The fields have only spaces or tabs between them. Other delimiters may prevent the mapping script from parsing your file correctly.
    • The file is saved as plain text with a .list extension. Word processor files (Microsoft Word, Open Office Write, etc.) and rich-text formats will not work. If you use a word processor to create your file, be sure to select "Save As..." and save the file in a plain text format.

  5. 🔗 Send your .list file by email to destination. Mention in the subject line that your username is a new one.

    You have now finished your part! Your file will be included in the next site update, which typically occurs nightly between 9 and 11 PM US/Eastern.

  6. 🔗 After the next site update, look for your name on the Traveler List.

    Once your file has been processed, your name will appear in this list along with all the other travelers. Click on your username and enjoy your traveled highway stats and maps.
    Lots of stats are available in csv files linked from

  7. 🔗 Check the user log file.

    Check your online log file (also directly linked on your user stats page). If you included a highway or point label that the mapping script does not recognize, it will tell you in the first segment of your log file. Sometimes highway data is updated, and this may generate a new error. You can find a note in the first lines of your log file. Check the updates page for info on what has been changed to the route.

    NEW Route updates that don't break your .list file are also reported in your log file. Notes to changes since the last update of your .list file are found at the beginning, older changes at the very end of the log file. You should also check the updates page frequently to find added routes or highway systems. Changes to systems in preview state are not notified.

  8. 🔗 Update your file as needed by emailing an updated copy.

    If you do more traveling, you can update your .list file to reflect the new highways on which you have traveled. To submit your updated file, just email it again, and it will be processed in the subsequent site update.
Travel Mapping's volunteers hope that you enjoy your maps and stats pages from this free service!

🔗 Solutions to common problems

  1. 🔗 An invalid username was chosen.

    Only the characters A-Z, a-z, 0-9, and the underscore _ are allowed in usernames. If you used other characters, such as non-English characters or symbols, remove them.

  2. 🔗 The filename does not match the username.

    If the username is highwayguy80, then the filename should be highwayguy80.list, not highwayguy80.txt, HighwayGuy80.list, arkansas.list, motorways.list, nor other filenames. Note that since usernames generally do not change, the valid filename also generally does not change.

    Due to Mac and Windows operating systems hiding the file extension .list by default and/or including an extra, hidden .txt extension, a .list.txt extension is also accepted (e.g., highwayguy80.list.txt). However, users are asked to avoid the double extension so that files do not need to be renamed after being submitted.

  3. 🔗 The file was not emailed.

    Check that you attached your file to the email you thought you sent, and check that the email was sent. Files that are not received cannot be processed.

  4. 🔗 The file was sent but has not yet been processed.

    Site updates typically occur daily, and the time of the last update can be found at the bottom of the project's home page (the most recent update was completed at 2024-04-11 23:37:23 US/Eastern). If your file was sent more than about 30 minutes before the most recent update, you can check on its status with an additional email or simply resend.
    Note that occasionally processing may be delayed. Any expected delays will be mentioned in the project forum.

  5. 🔗 The new file was processed, but all the highways from the previous file have vanished.

    The new file should contain all your traveled highways, not just additions to those from a previously submitted file. The new file always replaces the previous file rather than supplementing it. This allows users to not only add or modify lines in their file but also to delete them as needed.

🔗 More examples of how to break down your travels

Below are several example entries for a user's .list file.

🔗 Advanced features

🔗 How to become a highway data manager

Some experienced users volunteer to help the project. If this interests you, start by reporting problems with existing highway data. Those who have learned the project's structure and highway data rules and guidelines can help greatly by providing review of new highway systems in development. Highly experienced users can learn how to plot new highway systems under the guidance of experienced contributors.
The steps to become a highway data manager are as follows:
  1. 🔗 Become an active user and get familiar with the project structure. Create a list files and understand how routes are organized into highway systems.
  2. 🔗 Catch up on previous discussions and follow current discussions on the forum about highway data updates.
  3. 🔗 Report updates and problems in existing highway systems on the forum.
  4. 🔗 Read and understand the developer manual.
  5. 🔗 Participate in peer review of a preview highway system.
  6. 🔗 Understand the project structure and how highway data is organised on Github.
  7. 🔗 Develop a new highway system
  8. 🔗 Take responsibility for updates in an unclaimed region, or by requesting to become the maintainer for a region from someone looking to unload some of theirs