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Planning a Trip with Custom Google Maps

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One of my favorite travel tips when going abroad is to create custom Google Maps for each city we plan to visit. I love to lay everything out from food, to neighborhoods, to photo spots and it helps me visualize geographical “clusters” and pick which activities and meals to schedule on which days. The other key benefit to these maps is that you can download them to use offline, which comes in handy if you don’t have service or data in the country you’re touring.

The first step is to head to this link (or Google “My Maps”). In the top lefthand corner, you’ll see a red “Create a New Map” button. From there, you can use the search bar at the top to type in each destination. Once it appears on the map, click the “Add to Map” link and you’re all set!

I prefer to select a different color and icon for each type of attraction, as well as our hotel. To do this, once you have added a map item you can click the paint can beside the name of the location. You’ll see several icon choices and color options to select from. For example, my common icons designate meals, bars, desserts (I know, I know… we like to INDULGE okay?!), photo opportunities, shopping destinations, neighborhoods or streets to explore, museums, and sometimes even transportation stops.

Before you leave reliable WiFi, you can download the map and access it through your phone offline. This also came in handy in my old job when I was in the field often and wanted to know when I was near an office I could pop by. If you do have service, you can open up the map and see which places are near where you happen to be right then.

Here are a few of my maps in action:

To get a better idea of how this all flows together, check out the quick video below. Hope this helps!

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