Dropping pins in Google Maps
One of my favorite tools for travel is Google Maps.
I use the default pins for tagging locations I want to be able to identify quickly on the trip; stars on primary interests, flags on possible stops, and the hearts on favorites I want to remember and places I really don’t want to miss.
There are lots of ways to use these though; maybe use one for the key interests, another for possible, and the third for food interests…
If you haven’t used them before, it’s really easy.
Just tap (phone or tablet), or click (PC) to bring up info on a particular place.
On an iPhone look for the save icon at the bottom and on a PC it’s to the left. When you click or tap the icon you’ll see options for defaults or adding a custom pin.
There are custom labels too; they’re just a bit limited. I like them for tagging the places I stay mostly. This makes directions after a long day quick and easy to access.
This is where I wish there was a little more customization, maybe two or three unique pin color choices. It would be great to be able to separate food and tag metro stops from general points of interest.
You can multiple labels though, it’s just their pins are all turquoise like some standard Google pins, so they blend in quite a bit.
This why I use the custom ones for where I stay; I get to know the area pretty quick so by adding the pin it standouts just enough… it works.
The square in the center of the turquoise icon sticks out a little too.
When on the trip just pull up the map and plan a route that will take you by the places you’ve tagged.
Sometimes it’s an out and back along the same general route and other times you can create a loop to see a little more.
No matter the plan things can change, a lot of the time I use the first stop just to get the day started and see where things go from there.
It’s easy to switch things up throughout the day when you have dropped pins in place.
I suggest starting with the most popular sites, getting to those early will cut down on the time in any queues.
If you’re avoiding places with long queues like I often do; start with the furthest pinned points.
Either way, you’ll be able to take it nice and easy the rest of the day, slowly making your way back to your accommodation.
Now before you head out on your trip be sure to save areas you’ll be traveling to in “offline maps” on your phone and be sure to back them up on Wi-Fi.
There some limits to offline maps, such as only driving directions, but they can still be very useful if you don’t have signal or a data plan.
I can’t recommend it, but I’ve used them a lot to help find my way walking trails and paths that I didn’t think there was a chance they’d have info on.
Offline maps expire, so check your downloads to be sure they’ll be available when you need them.
They also take up a little storage, not so much it should be a problem, just something to be aware of if you’re cutting it close in that department.
Some places also block or limit Google Maps too; definitely information you’ll want to know going in.
I found out when I went to download an offline map of Tokyo that it was not allowed, though I was still able to use Google Maps with a data connection on my trip.
I try not to let missing anything be too big of a deal, or create strict schedules. Really, I don’t schedule much of anything on my trips.
Traveling is an adventure and it’s far more fun when there’s some spontaneity to it.
Whenever possible I love to get a little lost strolling the back streets and quieter paths; mixing some of this between hitting the more popular sites can be refreshing.
Having my offline maps updated has saved my butt a few times because of this. However, the experiences of getting lost enough to need them lead to some of my most treasured travel memories.
Know your destination and personal limits though; there are some places you won’t want to get lost in.