How to Plan a Vacation with Google Maps
I plan vacations just how I live my life, FAR too organized. Some people like to take a relaxing approach to vacation planning. After all, it’s supposed to be relaxing. But my Type A Tendencies ™ push me in another direction. I’m talking color-coded spreadsheets, itineraries, and my favorite secret weapon of planning – Google My Maps.
Ask anyone within earshot of my desk, I’m obsessed with using Google Maps to plan my vacations. Judge me all you want, but the idea of having all of my plans in one pretty Google map makes me a happy camper (or traveler). Google maps aren’t just for local SEO, they’re the key to planning your trip without stressing out.
Why You Should Use Google My Maps to Plan a Trip
No, I’m not just in love with travel planning via Google Maps because I work with Google Maps marketing. The Google Maps trip planner makes it easy to visualize everything you want to do on your trip so you can plan things more easily.
When I was planning a trip to Iceland last year (message me for travel tips and cinnamon bun bakery recommendations) I had no idea how to get started. I didn’t know what areas I was planning on staying in, how long I’d stay, or what my travel routes would look like. When you’re taking a DIY approach to travel planning, you’ve got to know these things so you can book your sketchy Airbnb rentals accordingly.
So, after reading many a travel blog, and getting advice from another Type A Travel Planner, I found the Google Maps trip planner. Here’s what you’ll need to get started on your vacation planning with Google Maps:
- A Google account
Phew, now that you’ve gotten all those ingredients together, let’s head over to https://www.google.com/mymaps to start planning.
My Obsessive Tips on How to Plan a Vacation with Google Maps
Ok, so now that you’ve got your Google account and you’re on the My Maps page, you simply click the +Create a New Map button in the top left of the page. From there, you can start filling out your map. Here are some tips.
To make your first entry on your map, use the search bar for a destination (like a cinnamon bun shop) that you know you want to visit. Then, click +Add to map to add it to your travel map. Honestly, that’s really it. The other tips below are how to make a beautiful map that would make Magellan jealous.
You can organize your map into layers, like restaurants, museums, or any other category you’re looking for. You can also customize your points on the map with icons so that you’ll have everything in one beautifully composed visual map of your vacation plans.
Here’s what that looks like in action, with icons for shopping, food, drinks, and nature-related points of interest:
Here’s how you can start adding icons on Google My Maps to plan a trip:
- Search for your point of interest
- Add it to your map in the right layer (drag it through the layers to drop it where it needs to go)
- Click the paint bucket of the location, then you can choose popular icons and paint colors
As you start filling out the map, you’ll see that your menu on the left is getting a little crowded. You can change layer names, add, and delete items from this menu.
If you’re planning a trip with friends (I swear I have friends), you can share the map with friends so they can make their edits too. It’s a great way to ensure everyone gets their input together for your trip.
Now that you’ve got all of your points of interest for your vacation charted on Google My Maps, you can start visualizing your trip. This makes it easy to figure out where you’ll be staying by identifying areas where you have lots of points stuck together and sorting out whether or not you’ll need a rental car.
Protips for Planning a Vacation with Google Maps
So now that you’re also a certified Vacation Map Nerd, here are some tips I’ve put together based on my own experiences with vacation planning through Google My Maps:
- Make your edits on your desktop, Google My Maps isn’t so user friendly when you’re editing on your phone
- Use icons or colors to differentiate points on your map, otherwise it won’t be easy to see things altogether
- Share your map with friends so they can edit it! It’s the easiest way to make sure everyone has their input on your trip
- Use layers to organize points of interest like restaurants, shops, museums, etc.
- Start making your map before booking hotels/Airbnbs/couch surfing accommodations so it’s easier to visualize the areas where you’ll be staying
- You can add directions using the arrows underneath the search bar to calculate travel time between destinations
- Don’t judge me for being such a travel planning nerd, please
So there you have it, my obsessive planning tips for making a travel plan with Google Maps Trip Planner. It’s one of my favorite lesser known features of Google Maps that makes self-planning big, complicated trips much easier.
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