Travel Hacks Series: Google Maps
NEW POST SERIES ALERT! This month, it will be all about Travel Hacks. We will be posting once per week about some budget-saving tricks that we have found handy during our travels. While we don’t claim to be experts, we just wanted to share some things that work for us!
Tom and I are self-proclaimed map lovers. We love Google Maps and often find ourselves zooming in and out just daydreaming about faraway locations or remote islands.
The Google Maps app is the only phone app that we use on a regular basis during our travels. Here are some “hacks” that we’ve found to be useful during our travels both domestically and abroad.
1. Download a map of an area
Using the application, you can actual download a location to your account so you can utilize the map offline. This is particularly useful if you will not have an international data plan. It can also help to conserve phone battery because you can put your phone on airplane mode and still have navigational capabilities.
How to do it:
Using your app, navigate to “offline areas” on the sidebar. From there, under “Download an offline area,” select “Customer area.” The custom area will default to your current view but you can change it based on your travel destination. Once you get the area set appropriately, click “Download.” Make sure you’re connected to wifi.
2. Create a map by saving locations
Google maps allows you to create a map, give it a name such as “Paris Restaurants,” and save locations. You can then download this map for offline use.
This feature is awesome for saving all of the cool restaurants, bars, and attractions that you found during your research. Then, when you are walking around a city, you can pull up your map and figure out which of those spots are nearby.
We used this to create a “Paris Happy Hour” map of all of the happy hours we found during using the Time Out Paris website. We added the Time Out Paris description to each one of our saved locations so we remembered the prices and hours listed on the site.
How to do it:
I usually do this on my laptop instead of the app. Navigate to google.com/maps. Select “Your Places” on the sidebar. From the top bar, select “Maps.” Select “Create Map” and give it a name. Then, start typing in locations into the search bar and click on the pin and select “Add to Map.” To add a description to your saved places, click the “Edit” pencil icon and type anything you want and then save.
3. Where the locals eat feature
We love Google Maps reviews. Although not every city has fully adopted them, we have found it to be better than Yelp or Tripadvisor in most American and European cities.
You can use the Google Maps app to search bars and restuarants nearby. Then, it will give you options such as “Cheap Lunch,” “Quick Dinner,” etc. One of these options is “Where the Locals Eat.” We have found some awesome places to eat using this feature.
Usually, these spots are high quality and low priced. Even better, we have been the only Americans at any of the places we’ve found using this feature during our time abroad.
We talked more about this in our previous post about “How To Avoid Tourist Traps in Paris”
How to do it:
Using the app, make sure your map range is set appropriately to the locations that you want to include. Click the “Explore this area” icon at the bottom of the screen. Navigate on the top bar to “Dinner” and select “Where the Locals Eat.”
What is your favorite way of using Google Maps? Do you use it just for GPS or do you also look at the reviews? Let us know in the comments below!