How to Use Google Maps When Traveling

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In 2009, Google Maps officially became the most widely used online mapping tool, and it’s easy to see why, as its intuitive interface and detailed maps are second to none.

With more and more people using smart phones, tablets (such as the iPhone and the iPad) and laptop computers and taking them abroad as they travel, Google Maps can become a traveler’s dream if you know how to use it properly (and if you know a few of the tips and tricks to get the most out of it).

Here are 4 great ways to use Google Maps when traveling:

1. Using the “Show My Location” Button

Lost in the big city? Don’t feel like asking that angry-looking taxi driver for directions?

Click the small circular button in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. This is the “Show My Location” button (also known as the ‘Find Me’ button) that allows Google to show you exactly where you are on the map based on your WiFi signal/GPS/magic.

2. Know When to Get Off the Bus

Ever been on a bus and not known when to get off? If you don’t recognize the area and you’ve never been on that particular bus before, how would you?

With Google Maps you can now get stop-by-stop directions for buses (and trains) in over 400 cities worldwide.

This means that you can tell your phone which stop you want to get off at, and it’ll alert you (usually by vibrating) when it’s time to get off the bus.

Note that to do this you’ll need to have an Android smart phone (along with the Google Maps mobile app). Click here for more information.

3. Download a Map

Let’s say you travel to a city overseas that you’ve never been to before. It’d smart to have some kind of map so that you can guide yourself around, wouldn’t it?

You can buy a large (and slightly cumbersome) fold-out paper map and do things the old fashioned way or you can use Google Maps on your phone.

The problem with using Google Maps on your phone overseas is that you’ll be constantly online and racking up a load of expensive roaming charges.

How to Use Google Maps When TravelingSo what’s the solution? Download a map of your future destination on your phone so that you have it saved offline.

How do you do this? Open up Google Maps on your phone and search for the city/location you’re in.

On the left-hand side you’ll see the word “Places” followed by a list of well-known landmarks in that location.

Click on one of these places (it doesn’t matter which as long as it’s in the city) and click “More”. You should now have the option to download a map of everything within a 10 mile radius of this place right onto your phone for offline use later.

With a map that large, you should have no problem navigating yourself around and you’ll still be able to use the zoom features of Google Maps without being online.

Again, sadly this feature only currently works with Android phones.

4. Find a Hotel

Google Maps can now help you to find a hotel in your destination based on price, date of arrival, hotel class (i.e. 5 star) and user ratings.

To do so, visit and type in your destination. From here you can draw a box around the specific area you’d like to stay in.

Google will look at every hotel within this area and return a relevant list of results, based on your criteria. You’ll be able to view hotels (and add ones you like into a shortlist) before given a link to your hotel of choice so you can make a booking.

Of course, these things can take some of the fun out of traveling, as getting lost can often lead to fun/crazy/random adventures. That being said, if you don’t have the time (or the patience) to get lost, these tips can make your life a lot easier.

Related posts:

  1. Google Launches ‘Flight Search’
  2. Tips for a Successful Road Trip

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