Google Maps Trip Planner allows you to create detailed travel plans while simplifying those confusing things related to travel planning.
Planning a trip often seems like trying to put together a million-piece puzzle. It is understandable that a trip to a place that we’ve only ever seen through a laptop screen can be confusing.
But it won’t be that way when you start planning a trip on google maps.
Most of the confusion related to travel planning is because we have no sense of orientation for that place or destination that we’re about to visit. All we have is a bunch of ideas – places we want to go and see, hotels we like, activities, but we have no idea where those things are located.
Creating a trip plan on google maps puts everything into perspective because it gives you a visualization of those things on a map.
When you have those ideas clearly pointed out on an organized google maps travel plan, it will be easier to choose the area you want to stay (and eliminate the surprise of booking a hotel in the middle of nowhere), group together certain activities in a practical way and you can also plan a route in google maps for your daily itinerary.
Basically, planning a trip on google maps will make travel planning a whole lot easier. And best of all, it’s free and pretty simple to use.
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Ok then let’s get right to it.
If you want to know something specific about creating a travel plan in google maps you can skip straight to what you want in the table of contents below.
Do this if you’re soon going on vacation or planning a trip.
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In this guide, we are laying out a step-by-step guide to create a travel plan using google maps on desktop (laptop). Although it is possible to create a map on your smartphone, the options are limited. But don’t worry, the map created on your desktop will be synced to all your devices, even mobile phones and tablets.
1. CREATE A NEW GOOGLE MAP
If you already have a Google account (Gmail), go onto your search engine (Google, or whatever you usually use) and type in google maps. Or you can click here to get started.
You will need a google account so that your maps will be saved and also so the maps that you create can be accessed from all your devices like mobile phones and tablets.
If you don’t have a Google account click on this link to create one. Don’t worry it’s free and only takes about 5 minutes. Once you’ve created an account you follow the same steps from above.
Make sure that you’re logged in before you start creating a new google maps trip plan. If you’re logged in there should be a round icon with your initials on it in the top right corner of the screen. If there isn’t you’ll see a sign-in button.
After signing in, first go to the hamburger icon near the search bar on the map. It’s in the top left corner. And then click on your places, the first option in the drop-down menu.
In the menu click on MAPS, the last option on the right. This is where all the maps that you create are saved. So, if this is the first time that you’re creating a google map, this section should be empty.
At the bottom of the current menu, click on CREATE MAP.
Ok then, great the map has now been created.
All you need to do now is to give your new google maps a title and a description. If you only have one map, you barely need a title let alone a description. But as you create more maps, those titles and descriptions will help you easily find the map you’re looking for rather than searching through a bunch of unorganized maps.
In the menu in the top left corner of the screen, Click on Untitled Map. And in the text box that pops up, give your map a title. Think of giving specific names to your maps. For instance, if you’re making a map of New York, instead of just writing a title “New York”, write “New York Trip – October 2021”. And write a description, like places I have to visit, or the best hotels, restaurants, activities, for example.
2. ADD ALL YOUR IDEAS TO GOOGLE MAPS
Not everyone follows the same steps to create their personal travel plan on google maps. For example, our favorite way is to start off by putting all our ideas on the map.
We start off by making a list of places that we want to go, activities that we want to do, hotels and restaurants we like, and anything else that comes to mind that we could possibly consider while in that destination.
Because you can visualize Adding all our ideas onto a map offers a visualization of that destination and puts everything into perspective. For instance, if certain activities are too far away we can determine
For instance, we can easily understand if an activity is too far away or maybe choose a hotel that is centrally located in the middle of the things that we want to do.
Seeing all those places on a map will help you understand what you can realistically do within your trip duration. For instance, you will be able to determine if certain activities are too far away. Or if a hotel you like is in the middle of nowhere.
Adding all those ideas to the map is straightforward.
Step. 1. Go to the search box in the middle of the screen and type in the name of the place. You can search for anything you want, like hotels, restaurants, beaches, waterfalls, parks. Basically, on google maps you’ll find almost every place you look for. If that place doesn’t come up in the search, you’ll need to type in the street address.
Step. 2. Once you’ve found the place you want, a green will come on the map in the location of that place. And a small description box will be next to it.
Step. 3. To save that place to the map, click +add to map in the description box.
Repeat these 3 steps for all those places that you want to add on you new Google Map travel plan.
TIP: if only the green pin comes on the map, click on the green pin. When you click on the pin the description box will come up and you can add that place to the map.
Too many ideas but not much time? When we plan short trips, sometimes we book tours or at least we book a tour if they’re any good. Tours save us time because they combine the must visit spots in the destination we visit. And surprisingly, some tours have cost us less than if we did everything by ourselves.
Whenever we are considering a tour in a popular destination, we always make sure to book with a reputable company and also to book in advance. Because you know, the good things easily run out. Below are links of 2 companies that we personally use.
3. CHANGING THE PINS COLORS AND ICONS
At this point, we have a good idea of where all those places – like activities, tourist spots, hotels, restaurants – are located. And by default, all the pins will be in blue color.
But having a load of identical pins isn’t a great way to visualize a google maps travel itinerary.
So now, what we need to do is to give meaning to each pin by color coding and/or changing the pins into icons.
Color coding the pins or changing them into different icons will make your google map a lot more visually understandable.
For example, what we do is color code each place into different categories. For example, if we have beaches we make yellow pins, for hikes we use brown pins, for restaurants red pins, and so on.
And we also customize the icons. Don’t worry, both color and icons are pretty straightforward.
How to color code pins in google maps
Step 1. Click on the pin that you want to change the color. A description box will open up.
Step 2. Next click on the style, the icon resembling a tipping paint bucket. The first icon at the bottom of the description box.
Step 3. A small window with color samples will open. Choose a color that will help you easily identify that specific place.
How to change pins to specific icons
Changing those identical pins into icons that actually mean something will further help you visualize what those places are on your google maps trip planner.
For instance, if you have a beach add a palm tree or an umbrella. If you have a restaurant, add a knife and fork icon.
Color coding and icons work simultaneously. So don’t worry, you don’t need to choose either the icon OR the color.
To change icons follow steps 1 and 2 from above. When the window with color samples opens, there will also be a number of icons to choose from. However, you can further expand that icon window by clicking on more icons.
TIP: alternatively you can change color or icons of pins when you’re adding your ideas to the map. After you click +add to map
4. CATEGORIES A GOOGLE MAPS TRAVEL PLAN
Adding layers in google maps trip planner is a key feature because it allows you to categories your trip itinerary into different sections.
Creating different layers is a way of grouping together certain things on the map. Because although you may have defined all the pins with specific colors, the map still doesn’t have much organization. It’s like having a bunch of pins with not much value.
The way in which you group together the pins will depend entirely on your choice and also on what is the purpose of the google maps that you’re creating. We’ll give a few ideas on how you could categories all those pins.
We group together our pins in 3 ways, depending on what makes the most sense for that specific travel plan.
If we want an easy to follow travel itinerary, we group together pins in days. So if a number of things can be done in a day, we group those together and call that a day plan.
Or, when we go to countries made up of loads islands like Indonesia or the Philippines, we categories all the pins by islands.
Or, we create a different layer for each different type of place that we want to visit. For instance, we make categories for hotels, restaurants, malls, historical places, activities, etc.
How to add layers on a google maps travel plan
Step 1. In the menu, in the top left corner, click on add layer. You can add up to 10 different layers.
Step 2. Categorize each layer with a title. Click on Untitled layer. A text box will open up and here you can write the title for that layer. If you don’t see the text box, click again until it comes on the screen.
Step 3. All the places that you had previously added to the map will be in the first layer. Once you’ve created different layers, all you need to do is to click on the place you want to move and drag it into the layer/category that you want.
Make sure the box next to each layer is ticked. If next to the layer title there is no tick, it means that layer is closed and you won’t be able to see the things in that layer when use the map on your mobile phone.
5. ACCESS YOU GOOGLE MAPS TRAVEL PLAN ON MOBILE
Now that you’ve created your Google Maps travel plan you will need to be able to access that plan easily with your mobile phone.
To access your plan on mobile phone go to google maps (make sure you go to google maps and not maps go) and click on saved at the bottom of your screen.
In the next window scroll all the way down and click on maps on the bottom right side of the screen. This is where the maps you create are saved.
Now choose the map you and click on it.
6. USE MAPS OFFLINE
Now you can access your google maps travel plan when offline. And also use google maps to get directions even if you don’t have a connection.
So from now on it won’t really matter if you’re connected to the internet or not. You can easily find google maps travel plans and get directions even in remote places with unreliable wifi service.
You’ll need to plan these things ahead because the only way to access your maps or get directions is to download what you need in advance.
I will explain exactly how to download google maps for directions and how to download your google maps trip planner.
Accessing Google Maps travel plan offline
- Download Google Earth App on your mobile phone.
- Go to your google maps travel plan on desktop and click on the 3 dots next to the title.
- In the pop up box click export to KML/KMZ. In the next pop up leave the boxes unchecked and click download.
- Send a downloaded copy to yourself by email.
- Now, on your phone go to that email, click on the file and open it with Google earth.
And follow these steps to use Google directional maps offline
- On your mobile phone, open the 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 can 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.
7. SHARE MAP WITH FRIENDS
Whether you are planning a trip with google maps or not you should always share your travel plan with someone you trust.
Especially if you’re traveling solo, someone should always know what your plans are. At least, if something happens in those places you’re going to visit someone will know where you are.
Besides safety reasons, you can also share your google maps and let friends or your travel buddies contribute and give their own input on things they want to do.
Follow the steps below to share your google maps travel plan:
- To share from desktop go to the map you want to share and under the main title click on the share button. In the pop up window click the button next to “anyone with this link can view”. Copy the link and share it either by email or message.
- To share on mobile open 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. Open the map you want to share and click on “view map legend”. Click the share option and choose how and to who you want to share that google maps travel plan.
Sharing your map will give your loved ones some peace of mind. At least, if they don’t hear from you they will know where you were at that time.
Using google maps to create detailed travel plans takes out a lot of the unnecessary stress of travel planning. It also makes a travel plan organized and easy to understand because of the visual aspect of planning a trip on a map.
So I hope this article gives you a better understanding of how to plan a trip with google maps. But if you have any other ideas or alternate ideas on certain things we mentioned please let us know in the comments below. There is no better way to improve than to get ideas from other travelers.
Our love for travel started off in South East Asia and continues to attract us each year. If you want you can read a bunch of interesting articles about beaches, waterfalls, food, itineraries by clicking the link below.
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