A few weeks ago, on my Instagram story, I shared how I plan out all of our trips in advance with Google’s My Maps feature and I got a lot of messages asking about it… so here we are!
This, like most of my travel posts, comes with the disclaimer that everyone travels differently. Kyle and I like to be very busy, have back-to-back activities or sights to see and we don’t sleep a lot when we travel. We don’t travel to relax. We don’t take vacations, we take trips. Because of that, I prefer to have most of our itinerary laid out ahead of time.
This will come at absolutely no surprise to anyone who knows me but I meticulously plan out every aspect of all of our trips in advance. We are not spontaneous people and while we love adventure, it needs to be the kind of adventure where I did already have some sort of idea of what I was getting in to.
I use Google’s My Maps while trip planning to…
Figure out how many miles we can realistically cover each day
Decide what we have time to do and see during our trip (and then either narrow things down or start to add to our itinerary)
Help us get the most out of our investment into travel
Give us restaurant and meal options (Ok, this one may seem weird but sometime we get really overwhelmed by food in new places… and we can take forever to decide where to eat. So, instead of searching Yelp and TripAdvisor when we’re hungry and wasting time, I try to figure out a few restaurant options for each meal in advance and then we can decide based on what we’re in the mood for. Also, we’re often on the go in rural spots so if there’s only one place to get lunch, knowing about that in advance is really helpful.)
To visualize where we’ll be traveling and help craft a more efficient itinerary
At this time, you cannot create a map on mobile (that I know of or can figure out) and I think it’s easier to craft these on your computer anyway. Buuuuuuuut… you can access each of your maps using Google Maps on your phone! All of your destinations are pre-loaded! So whether you’re walking around a huge, unfamiliar city or driving a huge expanse - you can just open your already made map and click where you want to go! No searching for addresses, no wondering where to go next and no worries if you don’t have cell service (just download offline maps before you go)!
So, how does this all work? The key is making sure that you’re logged in to your Google account so that you can access these maps on all of your devices!
Search for Google My Maps or simply visit Google.com/MyMaps!
Welcome to the My Maps feature! This is where you can find all of your custom maps, create a new map, see maps that have been shared with you and explore cool pre-made maps (like National Parks, Shipwrecks and Remote Islands of the World).
Once you create a new map, you can start adding layers, searching and adding points of interest, ordering your map and plotting driving routes.
I love that you can change the types of icons as you add places to your map and change the color (YAY COLOR CODING!!). This helps me stay organized when my maps get really large or complicated. I know if we’re looking for parking, I search for the yellow icons.
The above are screenshots from my iPhone. When you open up Google Maps on your phone, click the menu and then visit “Your Places”. Your maps will pop up and then you can open them! Select “View Map Legend” to be able to simply click on where you want to navigate to! No searching for addresses or debating if you’re clicking on the closest In-N-Out to the airport.
But the best part… and what makes all of this organizational work worth it… is when you are traveling and you open up Google Maps on your phone to see everything perfectly laid out for you! If you’re always the navigator like me, it makes your job so much easier. You can also share the map with someone else if you are traveling with a partner or a group!
Now, if you need me, I’ll be crafting our next trip map!