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!
Let’s get started, shall we?!
Creating a Google Maps Itinerary
On your computer (not your phone), go to google.com/mymaps and select “create a new map.”
Type your destination in the search box.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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: