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57 In Travel Tips

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

 






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57 Comments

  • Reply
    Emily
    August 4, 2015 at 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

    • Reply
      Traveling Chic
      August 5, 2015 at 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!

  • Reply
    Karen
    August 27, 2015 at 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!!

    • Reply
      Traveling Chic
      August 28, 2015 at 12:40 am

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

  • Reply
    Betty Feregrino Guerra
    September 22, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    this is just ah-mah-zing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! million thank you’s!!!!!!!!!

  • Reply
    5 Tips to Survive Driving in the South of France | Traveling Chic
    October 1, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    […] Provence is filled with charming country roads that date back hundreds of years. It truly feels as though you’ve been transported through time to a very special place. However, that also means street signs are a little more inconspicuous and directions are a little more involved. You’re going to make a wrong turn here and there. It’s all part of the experience. Keep your cool and you’ll be the hero. Jenny saved google maps offline on her smart phone, so we used that to get to our hotels. She has a how-to guide here. […]

  • Reply
    Roger
    May 23, 2016 at 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?

  • Reply
    Ravi
    June 3, 2016 at 4:49 pm

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

    • Reply
      jan
      June 19, 2016 at 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

  • Reply
    Isabel Leong
    June 18, 2016 at 5:04 pm

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

  • Reply
    jan
    June 19, 2016 at 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

  • Reply
    claudia
    June 22, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Thanksss!!!! 😀

  • Reply
    brent
    July 8, 2016 at 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.

  • Reply
    Puja
    September 28, 2016 at 10:06 am

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

  • Reply
    arae
    October 4, 2016 at 11:46 pm

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

  • Reply
    Aaron
    October 22, 2016 at 4:17 am

    Wow. Extremely helpful. Nice work.

  • Reply
    Ana
    October 22, 2016 at 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 🙂

  • Reply
    Kristina
    November 5, 2016 at 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.

  • Reply
    ghost123uk
    November 13, 2016 at 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

  • Reply
    Emily S.
    November 17, 2016 at 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.

  • Reply
    BJ Lantz
    January 14, 2017 at 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.

    • Reply
      Traveling Chic
      January 22, 2017 at 3:52 pm

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

  • Reply
    sharon
    January 24, 2017 at 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.

  • Reply
    sharon
    February 12, 2017 at 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?

    • Reply
      sharon
      February 12, 2017 at 9:14 pm

      2 Sharons, but 2 different people

      • Reply
        Arun
        June 6, 2017 at 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?

        • Reply
          Sharyn
          October 29, 2017 at 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?

    • Reply
      Lindsay
      March 28, 2017 at 4:05 pm

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

    • Reply
      Acacia
      September 26, 2018 at 2:15 pm

      I am having the same problem as Sharon. Any help?

  • Reply
    pupito
    April 5, 2017 at 4:20 am

    same problem, sharon! what a shit!

  • Reply
    Foivos
    April 5, 2017 at 3:43 pm

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

  • Reply
    sarah
    May 24, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Thank you!!

  • Reply
    Valerio
    June 25, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    this was super useful! thanks for the heads up

  • Reply
    Deb
    August 1, 2017 at 6:10 am

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

  • Reply
    TIffany
    August 1, 2017 at 10:01 pm

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

  • Reply
    david
    August 2, 2017 at 4:34 am

    well done, good job!!
    regards from italy

  • Reply
    meg
    August 8, 2017 at 2:05 am

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

  • Reply
    Josh
    August 25, 2017 at 3:13 am

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

  • Reply
    Allie
    August 27, 2017 at 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.

  • Reply
    Jinkssick
    October 1, 2017 at 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

  • Reply
    Corey
    October 7, 2017 at 5:36 pm

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

  • Reply
    alex
    October 24, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    this works. you are amazing. thank you!

  • Reply
    Lizzie
    November 23, 2017 at 5:00 pm

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

  • Reply
    Brian Grover
    June 6, 2018 at 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.

  • Reply
    Nikita
    June 12, 2018 at 3:52 am

    Thank you so much! Really helpful!

  • Reply
    Weekend Wanderlust + Survey Results | Traveling Chic
    July 20, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    […] I haven’t used this app recently, but the Maps.ME app (which is free) imports your custom google maps so you can use it offline. I wrote a blog post on how this works here. […]

  • Reply
    Megan
    August 3, 2018 at 2:24 am

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

    • Reply
      Jenny Dolphin
      August 3, 2018 at 4:29 am

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

  • Reply
    Nathan
    August 12, 2018 at 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!

  • Reply
    Flip Baldwin
    August 29, 2018 at 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.

  • Reply
    Allan Collins
    November 25, 2018 at 4:58 am

    Hi. I have been trying to solve this issue for ages and eventually reached this very one…I create a route (up to 10 waypoints on My Maps – only 3 on Maps.me). (On a reply email I got from maps.me they told me that was all their users needed 🙄). Export as KMZ or KML (which is best?). Downloaded those files to my device (Galaxy S8). But, when I click any of the files I just get a popup “Unable to open file. You do not have any apps that can open this type of file. You can search for one on Playstore. (I have Google Maps, My Maps, Google Earth, Maps.me….all can open KMZ or KML). Have you encountered this? If so, please how did you address it? Any help would be greatly appreciated. TIA

  • Reply
    Syed Abid Raza
    December 24, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    I don;t understand how to complete step3.

  • Reply
    Jared Woods
    February 2, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    This worked perfectly, thank you!

  • Reply
    Betina
    February 12, 2019 at 8:44 am

    I did it all. But those steps: 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
    doesn’t work to me!. I mean I go to the file, said open with mapps.me and notihing appears. I don’t know where to look it at maps.me. Can you help me please?

  • Reply
    Amanda
    March 13, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    You are a life saver!!! Thank you, thank you, a million times thank you for this. I was spazzing out about my forthcoming trip to Italy and trying to go off the grid while I’m there, but, like you, my sense of direction isn’t stellar. Because of your very thorough tutorial, I was able to download the custom maps that I had already made on Google maps with all of my destinations in advance of my trip. I feel like I can concur all of Italy now without using any cellular data. Thanks again!

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