Sometimes we want to know the direct distance between two places in our family history. Google maps now has an improved facility to do that which is quite easy to use. On Google maps first find the starting point and right click it; on the menu that opens up click "measure distance." Then move the cursor to the end point and left click which will show a distance scale. You can add another leg by left clicking another point.
It works on desktop Google but not (yet?) on smartphones.