How to be a Travel Planning Maven – Google Maps to the Rescue!
One of the best parts of traveling is all the research before you start the adventure.
At least for me.
I love the anticipation that comes with planning and excitement of finding out of the way, hidden gems that very few people know about.
Guide books are great, googling things enroute works, and asking the locals is effective – but I love, LOVE having a list of amazing things to do that most people don’t know about.
- I also love a good list.
The most annoying thing on the planet is finding yourself somewhere amazing and not knowing what to do – being unsure of what might be around the corner or missing something awesome as you travel by to the next massive highlight in the guide books.
Before I put my passport in my purse and get on the tin can with wings, I like to have about a gazillion options and no firm plans.
I am currently planning a trip to Patagonia, Buenos Aires, Santiago, and Montevideo – it looks like Lonely Planet threw up South America on my desk.
A few years ago, I suddenly got fed up with all the paper lists, sticky notes, books, handwritten directions, links, and everything else that I had compiled for our trip to the Southwest. Trying to organize the information about adventures with directions to find the out of the way things and pictures to remind me what the out of the way things are, along with hotels, campsites, restaurants, and about 48 other things made me crazy.
Documents were created, flags were put in guide books, web pages were printed, folders were purchased … at one point, I contemplated using a binder for everything. I had no idea how I was going to keep everything organized and actually take it all with me on the plane.
Thanks to Google, there is a solution that makes my carryon lighter and choosing what to do each day on the fly easy.
Enter custom Google Maps.
If you have never used a custom Google Map to travel, your life is about to become amazing. Especially if you are a planner like me who loves the last minute adventure and wants to have a gazillion options at her fingertips so no matter the weather, your energy level, or whatever is going on; you have options.
- I am a woman who loves options.
I firmly believe the more planning you do beforehand, the more options you can have on your trip. Go with loads of information and no firm itinerary and you’re on your way to an amazing adventure!
You can keep track of pictures, directions, links, locations, descriptions, and nearly anything else you can think of on your phone and also know how far it is to get there by public transit, car, or walking based on exactly where you are at the moment.
A God-Send for a woman like me.
How to create your own custom Google Map.
Step #1 – Create a Google Account if you don’t already have one
Step #2 – Go to Google Maps and click on the menu bar in the top left corner.
Step #3 – Click on ‘Your Places’
Step #4 – Click on ‘Maps’
Step #5 – Create a map
Step #6 – Customize your map
Step #7 – Fill up your map with things to do and places to explore.
As I point out in the last screenshot, you can:
- Name your map
- Add layers so you can separate hotels vs. hikes vs. museums etc. (I simply keep it all together and the layers get confusing on your phone.)
- Add locations by searching and adding it to the map
- Customize your icons by shape and color
- Add in Google images and as much text and as many links as you want (Hint – press Shift + Enter to create paragraph breaks.)
Before you know it, you will have places galore on your map!
You can also share it with people so they can add to it, view it, or simply just have it on their phone while traveling too!
How it works on your phone.
Just go to the menu on the top left, exactly the same as on your computer, choose ‘Your Places’ and then click on ‘Maps’.
A list of all your custom maps will come up, choose the map you want to see and wah-lah! you’re in the view with all the places you’ve saved. You can simply see what is close to you and choose your adventure on the fly. Directions, details, and options are literally at your finger tips!