How to Create a Custom Google Maps Itinerary & Use it Offline!!

No matter how hard I try, I’m just not a natural with directions. I so admire those of you with a sixth sense about knowing where something is. And ever since Google maps came into my life, it seems as though my sense of direction has completely left my brain.

I’m so reliant on GPS that I decided to do a little research to find out if there is a way to use Google maps when traveling abroad without a phone signal. And by golly, I think I found a FREE way to do it!:)

The first part of this post is a tutorial on how to create a custom Google map/itinerary. I don’t think creating one of these maps is overly intuitive, so I thought it’d be helpful to do a step-by-step post with all the details. The second part of this post is how to use it offline.

I hope I don’t bore you too much today, but this is definitely something you can bookmark to come back to when you’re planning your future trips!



iphone

Let’s get started, shall we?!

Creating a Google Maps Itinerary

Step 1

On your computer (not your phone), go to google.com/mymaps and select “create a new map.”

 Google Map

Step 2

Type your destination in the search box.

City Map

Step 3

I like to enter my home base first, usually my hotel or work location. Once you type in your location you will see a green pin appear on the screen. Click on it and select “add to map.” If you’ve successfully added it, the location will appear on the left side of the map and the pin will turn red.

Hotel Map

Step 4

Add your other destinations (restaurants, coffee shops, monuments, parks, museums, shopping, etc.) using the instructions in step 3. If you’re super anal organized, you may want to make a different map for each day of travel.

*This step is helpful when planning your trip as it creates a nice visual to decide what activities to do each day based on their proximity to each other.

City Map

Step 5

Once all of your destinations are entered, you can have fun getting a little nerdy with the map!  You can color code the destinations so your map is organized and easy to decipher. If you hover over each destination listed on the left side a paint bucket will appear. Click on it to find lots of options to change the color or the icon type. You can select a bed icon for your hotel, a purse for shopping, a fork and knife for restaurants, etc.




Google map

Step 6

If you click on the destination a grey box will appear with the address and phone number. In the bottom right corner is a pencil icon. If you click on that you can make notes for yourself or even add a picture of the destination. If you decide to make notes you can view the information in list form by clicking the three vertical dots in the grey row (see picture above) and select “open data table.” You can edit your notes in this view as well.





Google Map Notes

Step 7

To get directions from one destination to the next, hold your shift key down and click on the starting pin and then on the ending pin. Once both pins are selected, click on the add direction icon (It’s near the top and looks like an arrow going in two different directions).

Directions

Step 9

Once you’re done adding destinations, save and bookmark your map so it’s easy to pull up later. If you are traveling with others you can share the map through email (click on the share button that looks like a person with a plus sign).

Google Map Notes

 How to use this offline

The custom Google map is great when you’re traveling local and have a phone signal, but it isn’t overly helpful if you’re abroad and traveling offline.




After doing a little online research I learned about a “new” to me app called Maps.ME. The app is FREE and seems to be pretty awesome! I haven’t actually used it on a trip yet, but I’ve tried it out offline and everything seems to work great.




Here’s what you need to do to use your custom Google Map offline:

Step 1
Follow the steps above to create your google map.
Step 2
Click on the icon with 3 vertical dots (to the right of the ‘add a layer’ and ‘share’ icons) and click on “Export to KML”.
Step 3
A pop-up box should come up so you can save the KML file to your computer.
Step 4
Download the app “Maps.ME” on your phone.
Step 5
Email the saved KML file to your personal email.
Step 6
Open the email on your phone. Select the KML file attachment and scroll through the open options until you see the Maps.ME app.
Step 7
Open the file in the Maps.ME app.
Step 8
If everything goes right you will be able to use this map with GPS even without a phone signal! (Keep in mind that you won’t be able to add or search for new things on the map, so everything has to be prepared before you go)
An Alternative Option
I know this is an extremely dense post already, but I have one last option for you!
This is for when you don’t have the time to map out all of the places you want to visit, but you want to have a map saved on your phone.
Step 1
When connected to the internet, open your Google maps app on your phone.
Step 2
Log into your Google Account.
Step 3
Enter a location in the search box.
Step 4
Pinch and zoom the map area so that you have the area of the city that you want to save in full view.
Step 5
At the bottom of the screen touch the name of the city you entered, a new screen will come up and 3 vertical dots will appear in the top right corner. Touch the vertical dots and select “Make available offline.”
 
Step 6
Go back to the main page and in the upper left corner click on the three bars icon and select “Your places.” You should see your map saved under “offline maps”
Okay, okay, I know that was 6 steps, but I promise you it will only take a minute to save!! Trust me!
So that’s it!
As always, let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to help you out! If you know of any better options I’d love to hear!
Happy Travels!
-Jenny
PIN THIS IMAGE TO SAVE FOR LATER!
Google-Map

 




51 Comments

  1. August 4, 2015 / 6:35 pm

    Wow I absolutely LOVE this post. It’s super helpful!! I do a lot of international travels and I often add on a data plan so that I’m able to use Google Map. Most of the time I run out of data right away, so having this offline option will save me lots of money!! I love how organize you can get with it too. THANK YOU FOR SHARING!!!

    xoxo Emily
    http://www.ditchtheheels.com

    • August 5, 2015 / 2:58 pm

      Thanks, Emily!! I know it’s a bit of a dense post, but glad it was helpful! Agreed about the phone data – they really get you when it’s overseas!

  2. Karen
    August 27, 2015 / 3:56 pm

    Wow you saved me from a gigantic headache – I had been researching our trip to Iceland for 7 months, pinning things to a personal google “my map” – only to find now that it is 2 weeks away that it doesn’t offer any way to download or print it?!? I’ve been searching the support page and group without luck, I’m SOOO thankful I found your page, thank you for sharing!!

    • August 28, 2015 / 12:40 am

      Hi Karen! You’re welcome! Have fun in Iceland! Also – your profile pic is adorable! I have a Berner too! Xo

  3. Roger
    May 23, 2016 / 5:41 pm

    Excellent but I have a challenge that I hope you can help with. I will be travelling in Portugal from one point to another but stopping at several other places on the way. I want to plan a route that also includes non-toll roads. How do I specifically input certain roads that I wish to use?

  4. Ravi
    June 3, 2016 / 4:49 pm

    Very nice. But one doubt. Is it possible to see custom icons in maps.me

    • June 19, 2016 / 6:26 pm

      Hi, did not work for me. Both .kml and .kmz file from Google My Maps (with custom icons) imported in MAPS.ME as plain, identical red dots. Jan

  5. June 18, 2016 / 5:04 pm

    Love this guide of yours. What a genius! Thanks for this, life saver!

  6. June 19, 2016 / 6:20 pm

    Hi, cool, thanks, works (android 6), you need to choose what layer to download as .kml from Google My Maps, that layer will be added as “points” in Maps.me onto offline region you downloaded previously thru tha app. cheers from czech republic! jan

  7. claudia
    June 22, 2016 / 5:13 pm

    Thanksss!!!! 😀

  8. brent
    July 8, 2016 / 3:11 pm

    I tried this, but sadly only 5 pins from two layers were visible. Most of my places from the custom maps on other layers do not show up. I tried it using both KML and KMZ, and also creating separate files for each layer.

  9. Puja
    September 28, 2016 / 10:06 am

    This is a super helpful post!!
    Thank you so much for taking out the time to write about it!

  10. arae
    October 4, 2016 / 11:46 pm

    will i be able to see map on my phone after?

  11. Aaron
    October 22, 2016 / 4:17 am

    Wow. Extremely helpful. Nice work.

  12. Ana
    October 22, 2016 / 7:50 pm

    We have to sum up a big ping to Google team in order to solve this thing! (It’s possible to send comments from MyMaps > Help page).
    After hours of work out on “My maps” I think it deserves to have an offline option as one of the main features!

    Thank you for your post anyway 🙂

  13. Kristina
    November 5, 2016 / 5:40 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I’ve been using the maps.me app for a few years now for international travel, and never knew that I could import my custom google maps bookmarks! You just saved me so much hassle trying to figure out a way to access those bookmarks offline on my upcoming trip.

  14. ghost123uk
    November 13, 2016 / 11:21 am

    Thanks for the heads up on this. Very useful for me.

    I can’t find a way to search for a specific pin though, but I can work around that.

    Thanks for your time posting this info

  15. Emily S.
    November 17, 2016 / 6:36 pm

    This works like a charm and is SO helpful! Thank you for taking the time to post, and for making the instructions so straightforward.

  16. January 14, 2017 / 7:53 pm

    Thanks so much for this. The Map.me app worked for me (I tried in airplane mode). Also found another app called Map Plus which will save the location marked balloons in their different assigned colors, however not with the icons themselves.

    • January 22, 2017 / 3:52 pm

      Great – glad this was helpful! Thanks for the tip on Map Plus!

  17. sharon
    January 24, 2017 / 8:06 pm

    You are a lifesaver. I have tried so hard to save My Maps (generated in googlemaps) to use offline abroad. I followed your instructions for emailing them to myself and downloading them onto my iPhone Maps.me I can put on airplane mode, open the map in maps.me and see the pins, and can tap on a pin to open its name, but I don’t see any driving directions or any way to check that I will get driving directions to that pin. Am I doing something wrong or missing something? Please help. I don’t want to find out when I’m abroad. Thank you so much.

  18. sharon
    February 12, 2017 / 9:13 pm

    Please help. I’ve made and saved a map in My Maps in Googlemaps on laptop. I see the 3 red dots, and the option to Export to KML. After that things stop working. No matter what I choose – “Entire Map”, or “name of a layer,” or if I check or uncheck the box “Export to a KML File” – I get something that downloads. I email it to myself from my downloads folder, and when I open it on my phone – there is no option to open it in Maps.me. It opens as a bunch of text that is unreadable. Have you got any idea what I am doing wrong?

    • sharon
      February 12, 2017 / 9:14 pm

      2 Sharons, but 2 different people

      • Arun
        June 6, 2017 / 11:56 am

        Hi, Great post. Is there a need to use the Map.me app? If I great a map with My Maps, will it not be accessible offline to Google Maps App?

        • October 29, 2017 / 12:57 am

          Hi
          I have been trying to do just this and can’t seem to open my Google my maps offline despite having the area.. re you able to?

    • Lindsay
      March 28, 2017 / 4:05 pm

      I’m having the same issue! Leaving for Rome in 3 days and feeling a little desperate!

  19. pupito
    April 5, 2017 / 4:20 am

    same problem, sharon! what a shit!

  20. Foivos
    April 5, 2017 / 3:43 pm

    You are a little GOD and I believe in you! THANKS A LOT!!!

  21. sarah
    May 24, 2017 / 10:34 am

    Thank you!!

  22. June 25, 2017 / 12:45 pm

    this was super useful! thanks for the heads up

  23. Deb
    August 1, 2017 / 6:10 am

    You definitely saved my day! (AND my travel project!)
    Thank you 😉

  24. TIffany
    August 1, 2017 / 10:01 pm

    THANK YOU! I just came across your post and it’s saving me such a hassle! Yay maps!

  25. david
    August 2, 2017 / 4:34 am

    well done, good job!!
    regards from italy

  26. meg
    August 8, 2017 / 2:05 am

    Thank you so much for writing this post! I would have been so lost as I wandered through Stockholm!

  27. Josh
    August 25, 2017 / 3:13 am

    THANK YOU A MILLION TIMES OVER!! I USE BOTH APPS AND THIS IS A LIFESAVER

  28. Allie
    August 27, 2017 / 8:29 am

    Like the others who commented before me, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Despite using the app before, I had forgotten to start off using maps.me from the beginning and had gone deep in Google mapping only to realize I might never have my map offline! This post was a total lifesaver.

  29. Jinkssick
    October 1, 2017 / 3:54 am

    I wanted to ditto the above. What a lifesaver. If you have saved bookmarks on google when you get to destined countryand no data and voila, vanishes. Now with maps.me i can actually see what i spent time writing. Xxxxxxx

  30. Corey
    October 7, 2017 / 5:36 pm

    Awesome! Very helpful as I explore areas in my state that I don’t have cell service in.

  31. alex
    October 24, 2017 / 7:49 pm

    this works. you are amazing. thank you!

  32. Lizzie
    November 23, 2017 / 5:00 pm

    Thanks so much! Great to have a way to use my google mymaps offline!!

  33. June 6, 2018 / 12:22 am

    Google Maps Offline Mode is a much welcomed feature but still it’s fairly limited. It works throughout Europe and North America but in much of Asia it’s useless. It works in Taiwan but, bizarrely, not in either Japan or South Korea. In the later the data quality is so poor Google Maps is mostly useless even when online. Use Naver Maps instead. There are problems with Naver’s offline mode as well, at least as far as iOS goes, but the new English Language version really opens the country up. To create maps in Google My Maps on a PC and still get some offline use throughout the world, export your maps as KMZ and then import to Map Plus on your favourite device. The free version is adequate for viewing but MP has advanced native editing capabilities as well though you’ll have to pay for those.

  34. Nikita
    June 12, 2018 / 3:52 am

    Thank you so much! Really helpful!

  35. Megan
    August 3, 2018 / 2:24 am

    Thank you for sharing this! I can’t wait to use it on my holiday next week 🙂

    • August 3, 2018 / 4:29 am

      Hi Megan! Glad it helped! Have a great holiday!

  36. Nathan
    August 12, 2018 / 9:37 am

    Wow, this is awesome. Last trip I took screen shots of the map I made in google maps and had to toggle between that and my saved offline GPS map. This will definitely be much easier for the trip I’m planning now! Thank you for this post!

  37. Flip Baldwin
    August 29, 2018 / 9:01 am

    Your tutorial on creating Google Maps for use when off line was exactly what I needed. Thanks very much. I had never hear of Maps.me until I read your article. Taking a long trip with probable loss of cellular and I was feeling nervous. Thanks again.

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