Google Maps (Tips and Tricks)

micromachines_logo text FINAL.png

Google Maps: what you could be doing with it.

Here are some obvious, and some not so obvious, tips for using Google Maps while traveling:

Download Offline Maps:

Especially if you plan on traveling abroad, knock this out while you still have Wifi. This lets you download a pretty large map (of an area of your choosing) directly to your phone. Your phone’s GPS will still work whether you have data or not, and this could potentially get you out of an unforeseen pickle.

Like momma used to say: “it’s better to have and not need, than to need and not have”.

Use Saved Places:

Here you’ll find your lists that you can save places to.

If you’re researching a city for a trip, make a list in Google Maps’ “Saved Places” to drop little pins on the map on your phone. Now you can organize all the locations of what interests you in a city ahead of time. I use this to strategically plan my outings, or if I’m just winging it (which is more likely), I can check and see what’s closest to me at this very moment. If a couple places are grouped together, I know it’ll be most efficient to knock them out around the same time.


Now we’re gonna dive a little deeper… When I first started utilizing this tool, I only used the default “Want to go” list for places I wanted to go (pretty smart, right?). After I visited a spot, I would unsave it from the list, so I only see the places left to explore (I’m visual and easily distracted).

I liked this method, but I want to create a reusable list that I can share with friends if they’re visiting a place I’ve visited before. So here’s what I do:

  • Add the interesting spots to my “Want to go” list

  • Also create a new list for that city (or region)

  • After I visit a spot, I remove from “Want to go”

  • If it’s a spot I’d recommend or revisit, I add it to the newly created list as I remove from “Want to go”

  • This changes the pin’s color and priority (since it’s on a different list now), so it’s like checking a box without deleting it entirely

  • Now I have I get the best of both worlds:

    • Clear visual distinction between locations I’ve seen/not seen

    • A permanent, sharable list of the places worth seeing

My Maps:

If you’ve taken a look at our Map page, you’ll see that the Googs offers so much more than you realize. In Google’s My Maps feature, I’ve basically created a digital journal tracking all of our travels from Day 1. There’s a layer for every continent, plus a layer for each of the following: points of interest, food, and accommodations. The map has travel routes, pictures, videos, descriptions, links, and recommendations. The possibilities are endless; and while I’ll admit, I partly made it for selfish reasons, it’s been one of our most useful tools during our travels. When locals or fellow travelers want to know where we’ve gone, we can show them exactly where we’ve been and when. Meanwhile, our family/friends/followers can track our progress from wherever they might be.

TL;DR - Use Google Maps for offline assistance, to save the places you want to go, and to track your travels!

- Embry