Google Maps is one of the most helpful apps for trip planning, even though its primary function is navigation. It offers a plethora of additional capabilities. I know this because I utilize it every time I go. We frequently recommend Google Flights as the finest method available for finding cheap flights. But the next tab (or app) you should open after booking those flights is Google Maps.
Although it does much more than just show data on a map, Google Maps gathers all of the information from Google. It has detailed walking directions, real-time information about public transportation, hotel details, street-level location photographs, and three-dimensional satellite imagery that covers almost the whole planet. If you haven’t used Google Maps before, some tools can help you plan specific aspects of your trip more accurately than you might think. Examples of these services include driving and walking directions.
Every vacation I plan begins with a visit to Google Maps, and I never leave the house to go to the airport until I have used all six of these capabilities.
One of the most useful things when planning a trip, especially if you’re trying to select where to stay, is being able to have everything you want to see and do listed out on a map in front of you, especially if you’re visual like me.
Google My Maps fills that need. My Maps allows you to make, save, and share personalized travel maps, which we compare to a visual itinerary. Starting a map with My Maps is, for me, the second step in vacation planning (after securing a flight). I created this map of Copenhagen, Denmark, during my most recent trip.
You may use My Maps with the Google Maps mobile app in addition to your web browser. Most of the reasons My Map is such a useful tool is that you can access it from anywhere. What that same Copenhagen looked like This is how my phone’s map appears.
Now, tell me how to arrange all of those pins on the map. Google simplifies things. You have two options: either use the search box at the top of the screen to look up locations such as the “Copenhagen Opera House” and add them to your My Map, or just browse the map and click on sites you find interesting.
You can begin classifying and personalizing your goods once they are on the map. This version of the map features all of our possible activities highlighted in purple, with stars added to the icons and a label reading “Things To Do.” I saved the eateries I was interested in as red pins.
Google My Maps is an excellent tool for recording every action you took throughout your trip, including the smallest details like how long it took to ride the metro or bike to a particular place. This takes me to what may be My Maps’ biggest feature: sharing.
Have relatives or friends ever questioned you about your travels, such as, “What was the name of that restaurant in Copenhagen that you loved?”? or “Have you had to walk a lot to get to Rosenborg Castle?” All you need to do now is send them a link to your My Map.
Search Hotels and Accommodations
When I’m looking for a place to stay, I start by making a My Map. My second option is to use the official Google Maps app and search for “Hotels.”
You look up your destination first. I skied Mt. Hood in Oregon last month on a brief trip to chase a snowstorm. Because there is no hotel on the mountain and it feels largely untouched, I adore Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Area. In other words, finding a place to stay is more difficult than locating a condo with ski-in, and ski-out access.
I begin my search, therefore, at the location where I will be spending the majority of my time: the mountain. After you search, Google saves the location and pins it. Select the “Hotels” menu item located at the top of the screen. You ought to see something like this in your findings.
The nightly rates are displayed on the map for a large number of hotels. This can assist you in focusing on the pricing range you want. Red dots typically represent other lodging choices, such as independent resorts, boutique hotels, and vacation rentals. I’ll talk more about those later.
The driving distance calculator is just another great feature of this Google Maps search engine. You will see a “route preview” with the driving timings between your hotel and your destination as soon as you click on one of the hotel results.
As previously noted, you ought to also investigate some of the smaller, boutique accommodations and motels that appear on the map. For example, the Huckleberry Inn, located in the center of Government Camp, also had reasonably priced rooms. All things considered, commencing your hotel search with Google Maps is a wise move. After that, you can explore websites like Airbnb, Google Hotels, and others to find the ideal location.
3D satellites images
If I’m being really honest, this feature is primarily simply fun. Click the button in the lower left corner of Google Maps to switch between a variety of map views, including the usual map you see below and a satellite view.
This two-dimensional map of Chamonix, France, demonstrates how comprehensive both the default and satellite maps are. There is, however, a more effective method for exploring environments where two-dimensionality is not the norm. You may have a better impression of what Chamonix looks like by selecting the “3D” button located in the lower right corner of the satellite map.
After entering this mode, you can use your mouse or touchpad to scroll in and out of it and rotate the viewpoint by choosing “command.” I’ve lost a lot of time flying over the cities I’ll be seeing in three dimensions. It’s among my most cherished attributes.
But it’s not all enjoyable. Using 3D satellite maps is also recommended for safety and practical reasons. It’s a good example here. The closest ski bus is said to be a minute’s walk away from the Airbnb I reserved in Chamonix last year. But first, I looked over the walking path and used Google Maps to locate the Airbnb’s approximate location before entering my credit card information.
It appears that a freeway would run along most of the route. Alright, eek! However, it became apparent that the highway wasn’t a roadway at all after closer inspection in 3D mode. It was merely a sidewalk-lined, two-lane road.
Directions in 3D Maps Google
Taking a look at the authentic, three-dimensional pictures of the route made me realize that, yes, this was the proper place after all.
When visiting unknown regions, the Google Maps Street View feature has come in quite handy since it allows you to explore the area as if you were strolling down the street. On the African island of Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania, my spouse and I spent our honeymoon last year. I knew nothing at all about Zanzibar or the Stone Town neighborhood when I made the flying arrangements.
Zanzibar has a vast network of Street View photos available on Google Maps, partly due to the Tanzanian government’s aggressive photography efforts and a mishmash of user photos and data. Every blue area on the map represents a real-time, first-person view of the surrounding area. Several of those are also 360-degree photos.
Since the Park Hyatt Zanzibar was nestled in the center of the city and directly on the beach, I was curious to see what the check-in area looked like once I made my decision. It was in Minnesota, right at my fingertips, when I dropped that tiny person icon into the map. Very crazy.
There’s yet another use for street view. For example, you may be concerned about the walk you intend to take between the hotel and a restaurant because you want to make sure you have a walkway that is safe for pedestrians to use, or you may be traveling with someone who has mobility issues. Get the Street View app and examine the trip in first person.
Directions with Real-Time Traffic
Let’s go on to some additional useful applications for Google Maps, one of which I’m sure you were already aware of. For driving directions, Google Maps is useful. Whoa! On Google Maps, are there driving directions? Thrifty Traveler, thank you! Be with me. Your travel planning may be greatly impacted by what you do with those instructions and how you use them beforehand.
Say you’d like to take a mountain adventure from Denver International Airport (DEN) to Breckenridge, Colorado. Here are a few fundamental driving instructions. However, a savvy traveler undertakes the following well in advance of arriving in Denver. Using the “Leave now” drop-down menu, enter the precise time you plan to depart the airport using the same search. Using years’ worth of traffic data on the route, select “Depart at” and then run your search again to estimate how long it will likely take you.
Interestingly, if you have a precise time that you must be there, you may also search for “Arrive by.” You can view the busiest times of the day and modify your itinerary accordingly by using the traffic box located at the bottom of the screen.
Live Public Transportation Information
While Google Maps’ real-time traffic information greatly facilitates travel planning, its real-time public transit information has been of greater assistance to me than I can count. Assume, for example, that you are scheduled to arrive at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) to travel to Manhattan. Open Google Maps and explore the possible route for your public transportation ride.
It seems easy enough, but I’ve had disorientation on the LIRR and the New York subways, so I wouldn’t suggest it. For me, Google Maps changed all of that. It will tell me when the trains are running, second by second, in addition to providing the quickest, straightest, or least expensive itinerary.
All of the trains I looked at for this search are running “on time,” according to the boxes on the left of the screen, which also provide minute-by-minute stop information. Of all the apps, Google Maps has the most access to real-time transit data. Neither in my travel preparation nor on the ground, it has yet to lead me astray.