It's that time of the year again when your thoughts turn to packing up the car and heading off on holiday for a week or so for a bit of a break and, hopefully, some sunshine. Before you head off, it's normally a good idea to get out the maps and plan your route in advance, particularly if you are heading to a country whose roads are not known to you. This is where route planning software can really help out. There are a number of commercial offerings out there to help you on your way, but I want to point you to a couple of free ones.
The first is provided courtesy of the AA's website and allows you to get detailed directions of a journey between any two points in Ireland, the UK or Europe. It also allows you to route via a particular waypoint that you want to visit and to avoid motorways and toll routes if you so choose. What it doesn't provide you with is a detailed map for your journey.
This is where Microsoft's Live Local website steals a march on the AA. As well as detailed instructions of the turns and twists that you need to take on the way, the Live Local site shows you zoomable maps with each turning point indicated and these maps can be printed out along with your route instructions. Live Local is not just limited to Europe, but provides more or less global coverage and, with a nod to Google Earth, allows you to overlay satellite images on your chosen route.
Between these two free websites you should be able to get your holiday off to a good start knowing you're on the right road.