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Learn how to travel with google maps

What do you use for a map/GPS system?

  • An atlas
  • Map Quest
  • Sygic
  • Avenza Maps
  • Apple Maps
  • Quickmap
  • Badger Map
  • RoadWarrior
  • GPS coPilot
  • Genius Maps
  • Waze
  • Google Maps
  • Or is there another form/app that you use?

There are sooooooooooo many to choose from. The list can be exhausting.

Why do you use the form or app that you do? Was it already downloaded onto your phone or was it recommended by a friend?

I’m not telling you that google maps is the best app to use and I’m not getting paid by google to recommend their app over anyone else’s.

I would like you to know what google maps has to offer so you can make the best decision for yourself.


Do I use google maps? Yes, but I also use waze as well. I like them both but for different reasons.

Going old school.

I realize that there are people out there that still use an atlas or paper map. My mother is one of those people.

Obviously, there are more advanced ways to find a specific destination. But this is one that works for her and she feels most comfortable using.

This is entirely okay.

The bad news:

It can get out of date quickly. Therefore, I would recommend using an app on your phone.

The good news:

When the zombie apocalypse comes and all the cell towers go down, you might want to freshen up on your atlas reading abilities.

The new, technological age.

As you may know the world is rapidly changing. Some things for the best and others for the worst.

Technology keeps moving forward.

It keeps getting more and more advanced and we are constantly looking for the next best thing. It started with computer advances, onto phone advances, and then to GPS systems on our phones.

It’s a blessing that they get updated within days, minutes, or seconds due to all the new streets and highways getting put in every year.

Each version is better than the last.

Traveling with a GPS system today has come a long way from the Babylonian World map that was created in 600 B.C.E.

However, sometimes having too many options can be intimidating. Especially, if you aren’t familiar with the app.

I would like to help you get you familiar with some of the features google maps has to offer you. 

I will explain why you would use the options listed below and how they will help you when traveling. But if you don’t have google maps and you have another app that you use, no worries.

A lot of this information will work for that app as well. I’m merely using google maps as my guide. Like I stated above; use the app that makes you feel comfortable.

Travel with google maps.

Turn-by-turn instructions

Turn by turn navigation will give you directions for a selected route that are continually presented to you in the form of spoken or visual instructions. With the voice navigation, you’ll hear traffic alerts, where to turn, which lane to use, and if there is a better route.

You can start or stop navigation at any time and add additional destinations in between.

Since there are multiple ways to travel, google maps allows you to choose your mode of transportation by either driving, taking public transit, walking, cycling, or getting a ride.

This is a great way to stay hands free.

Travel with google maps

Choosing an alternative route

If other routes are available, they will be shown in gray on the map.

You can either use an alternate route option or take a scenic route instead.

My husband and I often take the scenic route because we know that if we do get completely lost we have google maps to get us back on track.

Choosing an alternate route may also help you stay away from roads that are under construction.

Because nobody likes sitting in construction when they are on a time crunch.

Points of interest

The points of interest are what you may find useful or interesting.

Google does have a default, point of interest that appears on the base map that may include parks, schools, government buildings and more.

There is also a way to create your own points of interest. For instance, if you have certain restaurants or locations that you go to frequently.

You can also do a search of top places near you.

And this is very helpful when you are visiting a city that you aren’t familiar with for finding local locations near you.

Live traffic monitors

Travel with Google maps and get live traffic updates.

So, you can choose to have this as a notification option to see before you leave the house on what the traffic is like in your area.

Or you can select the “traffic” from the toolbar and see what the traffic will be like on each road you are travelling on.

There are four different colors: red, orange, yellow, and green.

Green lines indicate that the traffic flow is fast while the red indicates that it is slow. This may be a time when taking an alternate route is the best option.

Travel with google maps

Navigate Offline with Google Maps

Don’t have internet where you are going or don’t want to use up all your data? Use navigation offline.

However, in google maps you can only get offline maps using driving directions, not transit, bicycling, or walking directions.

So, before you go, make sure to download the map of the place you are going to first.

Travel with Google maps does have some restrictions though such as, maximum size of a map that can be downloaded is 2GB, which roughly equates to 200 x 120 miles.

Also, the app automatically deletes any downloaded maps after 30 days without an internet connection so make sure you plan ahead.

But this is just the downloaded offline map, if you create an itinerary that will still be there.

Creating Itineraries

This is the fun part.

Are you going on a trip with multiple destinations or multiple points of interests? Creating an itinerary on google maps would be an easy solution for you to use.

You simply create a new map and start entering in your stops.

It will let you know how far it is from each point and lets you place different icons for different interests.

If your destination doesn’t exist on the map and google hasn’t created a location for it yet, you’ll have to find the address manually and use your own name to properly mark it.

If you are a part of google local guides, here’s your chance to add a new place. (I’ll come back to what google locals guides is in a bit)

You can share your map with travel companions or with people at home.

Accessing your itinerary can be done from your phone or computer. However, I have found it easiest to create the itinerary on my computer.

Below is an itinerary that I have started for our Ireland trip.

Travel with google maps

Google local guides

Do you ever wonder how google maps knows so much about everything?

Google knows everything so why wouldn’t their maps application know all that stuff too? Well, that’s not necessarily why. Here’s why.

Google Local Guides.

These are people, just like you and me, that sign up and contribute to google maps. These guides or Vocal Locals, as I like to call them, enhance the local experience in their community for other online searchers visiting their area by adding and improving listings on Google maps.

If you have used google maps in the past to search for a restaurant or hotel, did you look at the reviews of that place? That was a local guide leaving a review letting you know what their thoughts were.

However, Local Guides do more than just leave reviews.

Why would you want to waste your time being a local guide? To help your community and yourself. Or maybe, reap some of the benefits they give to local guides.

Make it a game the whole family will love! While writing reviews and taking photos you will be gaining local guides points and get receive some of those amazing benefits.

When visitors come to your area, it’s like having a local give them a tour of the town.

They can look up:

  • Best restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Activities
  • Local hangouts

Also, when you go to visit another city, the same thing happens. You get to know where all that stuff is too.

Google also does give you perks for hitting certain levels, there are ten in total.

So, if you would like to sign up to be a google local guide but don’t know where to start, sign up to receive my video. Or, you can learn how to join local guides here.

I will show you step by step on how to get signed up, a review of the top features, and how I use google local guides in my busy life.

google local guide

Another feature of google maps is being able to play music while your navigation is on.

If you have the voice navigation turned on, the music will stop and let you know when your next turn is coming up and then resume playing music.

So, there you have it, Google maps in a nutshell.

I would like to stress again to use whatever form/app that makes you feel comfortable. There are many out there to choose from and in 20 years, there may be many more.

Or we will have the self-driving cars to where we simply enter in where we would like to go.

We won’t have to worry about how we get there.

We just have to worry about what we are going to do on the ride there and back. However, we will still need some sort of GPS system for this as well.

Might as well start learning how to use one now.

Traveling with google maps reduces the element of surprise.

Showing up to a destination and not knowing where you are going can be stressful.

It has so much additional information such as: booking reservations, inquiring about tickets, and letting you know the hours of operation to businesses.

You can use it between devices and customize it to the way that you like.

Be more efficient with how you travel. Be hands free and travel like a pro.

travel with google maps and never get lost
travel with google maps and never get lost