In spite of the rapid evolution of digital technology, it is highly unlikely that the simple road map will ever disappear. Road maps are about engaging the imagination, not just about plotting a course from point A to point B. This is because most road maps are employed in that long treasured endeavor: the road trip. They may serve other purposes in specific situations, but generally people purchase a road map as a tool for an upcoming road trip.
Historically, at least in the United States, road maps were a marketing tool of the country’s major gas countries. As the automobile gained in popularity and families took to the road to see the USA, companies realized that they could give away free maps that would conveniently include the location of all their filling stations. Eventually, map companies realized there was a market for selling higher quality maps to these early road trippers. They developed maps that showed not only cities and highways, but scenic spots, historic landmarks , and cultural attractions like museums.
In the twenty-first century most people are concerned with where to get the best GPS system. However, those that set out on a road trip are still likely to want to buy road maps. They want to be able to see what attractions and sights might be on their route, or close to it. They are also likely to be more concerned with the trip than the destination. They are willing to explore alternative routes and scenic byways that would not be visible from instructions in an electronic navigator.
It is still possible to find road maps at gas stations, though today they must be purchased. They can also be found in book stores, both physical and online, and other retailers. It is usually better to consult with an actual map printer or retailer who specializes in maps. They will be able to provide traditional road maps for states, cities, and even foreign countries in advance of a trip. They are much more likely to have maps for regions that aren’t generally popular and may have print on demand maps available.