I find that Google Maps is an excellent tool to utilize when planning travel. There are some great features that not only allow you to use it in planning, but also enable you to remember where you have been. You can even help other travelers find what they are looking for too. There are many elements, but these are my 5 top travel planning tips for using, and making the most of, Google Maps.
First of 5 Top Travel Planning Tips Using Google Maps
Mark Your Favorite Places and Locations Where You Want to Go.
Marking places on your map helps, not only while traveling, but also to remember your favorite places later. It is best to create and sign in to your own Google account. This allows the features of saving and sharing to function. Once logged in, you can select an area you are interested in by typing it into the search bar at the top left of the map. Once you are in the general vicinity, you can either do a wide search or a specific one of places nearby.
For example, if you are looking for Sushi bars, you can type in this parameter. Or, if you are looking for a specific Sushi bar, you can enter its name. Either way, you can mark the places you find, on your map. Various labels are offered, such as a “heart” icon for favorite places and a “green flag” for places you’d like to go. Once you label a place, it stays on your personal google map.
Advantages to Marking Your Favorite Places in Google Maps
There are several advantages to marking your places. This feature helps you to remember the places you’d like to visit and provides a visual aid to map them in order to efficiently plan your travel days. For example, say you know you’d like to visit Sarabeth’s for brunch one of your days in NYC and there are several museums marked on your map as well. You can look to see the proximity of the restaurant to one of the museums you plan on visiting. This helps with efficient planning of your travel days.
In addition, if you find yourself in an area with a few hours to spare, you can check your map to see which of your marked favorites is nearby, or locate a new place to visit. Another thing that I love about marking and saving places, is the ability to return to a favorite at a later time. How many times have you gone back to a city and wandered around looking for that great restaurant you visited a few years back, but can’t remember the name, or its exact location? I love being able to look on my map and see the past places I visited and exactly where they are.
Create a List, Using Your Own Labeled Topics.
Once you have marked your favorite locations, you are able to sort them by topic lists that you create. For my upcoming RV road trip, I created a list called, “Camper trailer.” This feature is very cool because I was able to mark off all of my gas and rest stops along the way for this specific trip. Simply select to create a new list and label it what you’d like. Add your places to your created lists.
Google Maps Has Two Separate Sharing Features.
Google maps are shared between all of your devices. The advantage to this is that no matter what device you are on, you can access your map information. If you do indeed lose, break, or upgrade a device, your account moves with you. Also, by creating an account and signing in, you can even log in on someone else’s device if needed.
There is additionally the ability to share your map and favorites with others. This is a great feature to either share with friends and family that you are traveling with, or ones at home following along. I also utilize sharing when others ask me for recommendations of places. I can easily share my favorites, including their locations with a simple share.
Excellent Public Transportation Directions Are Offered
Google Maps offers excellent step by step directions of most forms of public transportation in almost all countries. This includes subways, trains, busses and ferries. I find this tool extremely useful as I can follow along, especially when I have no idea where I am. It is usually updated in real time, so it shows changes and delays as well. The public transport feature displays the fastest route, but you can also see alternatives when available. I really like this because sometimes I want to avoid a specific subway, or I prefer travel by ferry, even if it is longer.
Of course it also offers driving directions, showing time and distance to travel. You can also enter stops for touring and gas. This feature displays traffic and alternate routes as well. Note that in order to use this map for directions, you need to select a mode of transportation. The options are varied and include, auto, public transit, walking, biking, and flights.
My Fifth Favorite of the 5 Top Travel Planning Tips Using Google Maps Are the Unique Views
There are several views including maps and satellite, but what is most unique to Google, and very useful, is the 360 degree street view. Once you have located a specific place, in most instances there is a 360 degree view available, where you can actually virtually walk down the street or path, and look around. This view is especially helpful when selecting accommodations.
I was recently studying Spanish in a small pueblo in Mexico. There was a small hotel that looked perfect, but wanted a closer look at the surrounding neighborhood and street, in order to check for safety, isolation returning at night, and the difficulty of reaching area points of interest without a car. I found it to be extremely helpful in gaining a clear idea of what to expect.
Also see Jenny In Wanderland feature article, Staying in One Place Versus Moving Around