HOW TO USE GOOGLE MAPS TRIP PLANNER IN 7 STEPS

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I know many people are overwhelmed when planning a trip. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With online tools like Google Maps Trip Planner, creating a plan for your vacation is now easier than ever.

Although many know Google maps as a route planner or a way of getting live directions, there is much more to it. 

On Google maps, there are a number of tools specifically designed for creating detailed travel plans. And in turn, having a travel plan spread out onto a map offers a visual and a sense of orientation of your destination.

Also, it’s a great way to categorize your days and color code the places you want to visit. Or create a route using Google maps multiple stops route planner. 

If you have an upcoming trip and don’t know how to piece it together, you will want to read on as I walk you through planning a route on Google maps.

Keep this window open while you are creating your new google map. This will help with easy-to-follow steps which you can look back to and also use the descriptive image for visualization.

Here is the list of steps we will go through:

  • Create a new Google Map
  • How to Categorise you map
  • Add your ideas on the map
  • Organizing a map
  • Color coding your pins
  • Using you map offline
  • Sharing map and travel plan with friends and family

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CREATE A NEW MAP ON GOOGLE MAPS

To create a trip itinerary and travel plan you will need to open a new Google Maps. 

You can Click here to get started.

And if you don’t have an account, you can click on this link to sign up. Don’t worry it’s free.

Make sure you are signed in to Google so that the map you create will be saved in your account. To sign in, click on the round icon in the top right corner and enter your email address and password.

Once you are signed in to your Google account, head to the top left corner and click on the hamburger icon / the three stripes/dots icon.

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An inventory menu will open, and you need to click on my places.

A new menu will open. Click on maps, on the top right side. And a drop-down menu with all your maps will open.

If this is the first Google map you are creating, this section will be empty. 

To start creating a new map, go to the bottom of the menu and click on create map.

An untitled map in a new window will open. And you should give your new google map a name that you can remember. This will help you organize and easily find a specific map once you create more maps using google maps.

To give your new map a name, go to the menu and click on Untitled Map in the top left corner. A text box will pop up on your screen. This is where you need to give your map a title and you can also give it a description which will help with any future reference.

How to Categorize Your Map

Now it is time to put down all of your ideas and create separate categories for each one. Doing this will make your Google map much more organized and easier for you to filter through places which you will add later on.

Here are a few ideas for your category section on Google Maps Trip Planner:

  • Restaurants and Bars
  • Cafes
  • Hotels (knowing where hotels are helps determine what is the most convenient place to stay)
  • Shopping Malls
  • Activities (beaches, hikes, waterfalls)
  • Places of interest (museums, temples, parks)
  • Cities – Towns ( this is usually on a broad scale or when I use google maps for a multiple stop route or a road trip itinerary)

The categories you choose will depend entirely on the type of trip, destination, and preferences.

Once you have a list of different ideas in mind, you can start creating layers for each one.

To share out your ideas into layers (categories) in google maps, click on add layer in the top left corner on the menu. This will create a new untitled layer in the menu.

What you want to do, is name each layer you create. This will make your map ideas much more organized and also easier to find specific places later on.

To do this click on Untitled Layer. A pop-up text box will come on the screen where you can give a name and description if you want.

You should do this for each category that you add to your travel plan.

Keep in mind that you can only add 10 layers to each map. That means you can’t have more than 10 different categories on a single map.

If you feel you need more than 10 layers, the option is to create a new Google Map. But I think 10 different layers should be enough for most trips.

Add your favourite places to Google Maps.

Once you have created a list of categories, start adding all your ideas and places of interest.

This is a great way to keep all the things you want to do organized. It will also be easier to filter through specific places while planning out your day.

If you have your own list of places you want to visit, or your friends recommended a great place you shouldn’t miss, add all those on your map.

Start by ticking the box in the layer where you want your idea/place of interest to go.

To search for the places and ideas on your list use the search box and when you find what you are looking for, a pin and pop up will come on the screen. In the pop up there is the option +add to map.

Click on the green pin if you don’t see the pop up.

Clicking on +add to map creates a pin for the location.

If the pop-up doesn’t come on your screen, click on the pin of the place you searched for.

If some of your ideas and places of interest end up in the wrong category/layer, don’t worry. Simply click on the place you want to move and drag it into the layer you want.

Follow these steps for every place you want to add to your google maps travel plan and remember to tick the box where you want the place to be categorized. Although you can move the places around by dragging them into the right category.

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Keep your map organized

All your ideas and places you want to visit will now be categorized and listed on google map with a pin according to the location.

However, all the location pins for the places you added will be in blue color. To get a better perspective of what category is behind each pin, you will want to give a color to the pin depending on its category. And you can also change the default pin into an icon that reflects that certain place. For example 🏖 for a beach or 🍸 for bars.

To change color and icons for your location pins in google maps simply hover the cursor over the place in the category/layer section.

This will highlight that place, and on the right side of the highlighted area you will see a little bucket icon. 

When you click on the bucket icon a small section will open up. Here you will find a choice of colors and icons that you can use to customize your map.

The choice is yours when it comes to customizing a google map. You can color code depending on the place or activity depending on what color you feel matches that particular place or activity.

Tips on Color Coding places on Google Maps Trip Planner.

Color coding your trip plan on Google Maps will make it more organized and also offers the advantage of easily visualizing and creating a trip itinerary by grouping together certain places.

COLOR CODE SPECIFIC PLACES

You can color code specific places depending on what they are. For example, in my google maps itinerary I usually have lots of beaches, hikes, and waterfalls. I color code the beaches in yellow, hilkes in brown and waterfalls in blue. 

You could do the same for any place. For example in cities, I highlight clubs in purple, restaurants in red, malls in gray and any other tourist spots in orange.

Click on more icons to choose from the full list.

CUSTOMIZE ICONS

When you click on the bucket and the color section opens up, there will also be an icon section. If you click on more icons it will open the whole list of different icons which you can use. Basically there is an icon relevant to every place or activity.

If you are in a situation where you want to color-code certain activities but want to make them easily distinguishable from one another, you could change their icon.

For example if you listed all your activities in orange but want to easily see what each activity is, you can change the icon into one that further describes that activity.

GROUP TOGETHER A DAILY ITINERARY

One great way to easily visualize your daily trip itinerary is to color code your activities by day. 

Doing this also offers the advantage of grouping together activities that are in a certain area. For example, instead of just randomly planning out your daily itinerary, go into your google maps travel plan and see which places are concentrated in one area. You can then color code those places for each day. 

For example day 1 green, day 2 yellow, day 3 red

OR USE GOOGLE MAPS ICONS

If you liked the idea of grouping together and sharing them out with specific colors, but you have already color coded in some other way, no need to worry.

In the icon section near the colors on google maps, there are different icon shapes. Use the same principles as I mentioned above but instead of grouping together with colors, group together with icons.

USE MAPS ON THE GO

One of the main perks when using google maps is that you can use the mapping system even when offline.

To use google maps without a connection, you will first need to download a map of the area you need.

Here is how to download and use google maps even when you have no service:

  • What you need to do is to open your google maps app. Be sure the app is Google Maps and not “Google Maps Go”.If you haven’t got the app on your mobile phone you can download it here.
  • In the top right corner of your mobile screen you will see a round icon. Click on the icon to access your account and go to offline maps.
  • On the next page click “select your map”. This will open the page where you download your map. By default, the area of the map will be of your location. However, you scroll to find whichever part of the world you want to download.

Keep in mind that for google to work offline you need to download the map over a connection. By default, maps will only download over wifi connections. If you want to include mobile data for downloads head to the settings wheel on the “select your own map” page and go to download preferences.

SHARE YOUR MAP WITH FRIENDS

Although you will find loads of ideas on google search, Instagram travel blogs or Pinterest there is no better way than getting recommendations from your friends and family.

And with google maps, it is super convenient that you can actually share your map and have the option to let others help out by pinning their suggestions or ideas.

Sharing your map is also a great way to stay in touch with travel buddies. This is especially true if you are a solo backpacker because it makes organizing a meet-up so much easier.

Here are 5 easy steps to share your plan with travel buddies

  • To share from desktop. To do this go to your map on desktop and in the menu bar click on the share button. A small window will open, this is where you need to allow link sharing. The icon should turn from gray to blue.
  • Copy the link generated and paste into a message either on messenger, email, WhatsApp, twitter, etc..
  • To share on mobile you will first need to turn on the sharing option on your desktop as in the first option above. Then open your google maps mobile app, click saved at the bottom of the screen. In the next window scroll all the way down and click on maps.
  • Choose the map you want to share. Open the map and click on “view map legend”. Next click on the share icon and a list of sharing options will open up.

With that is the conclusion to this guide on creating, categorizing, and sharing google maps. I hope you find this blog post helpful to plan your trip. If you did, save it on Pinterest and share it with family and friends for future reference.

In the meantime, be sure to check out all our other content.

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