Traveling somewhere new can bring exciting adventures.
But it can also bring unwelcome surprises.
The difference between the two may be in the tools you use before and during your trip. With the right technology, you can make the most of your time on the road.
Google Maps has many tech tools that help make traveling easier. While people most commonly use Google Maps for directions from one place to another, it offers many other kinds of travel tools.
1. Plan a road trip route
When you are traveling on a road trip, you do not have to plan each part of the trip separately with Google Maps. You can search for all of the parts of the trip in order to plan your route more efficiently.
To plan a road trip, open Google Maps. Search for your first destination, and then click on the arrow to get directions.
Then, click on the plus + sign to add more destinations to your trip.
2. Plan your idea itinerary
Looking for places to see? Search for them in Google Maps, then save them to Favorites, or create a new list.
When you are ready to plan your trip, go to the Google Maps menu, choose Your Places, and find your list with your saved places. You can then add these places to your travel itinerary.
3. Save your maps for offline use
When you are traveling, you may not always have access to the Internet. Or you may not want to pay international charges for using your phone in other countries.
The good news is you can still use Google Maps even without the Internet. You can download a map from Google Maps to your phone.
To do this, open the Google Maps app on your phone and search for the area you want to save. Click on the address at the bottom of the screen, then choose Download.
The app will show you the area of the map you will be saving and how much space the saved map will use on your phone.
4. Share your route with friends
If you are traveling with friends, or just want to share your itinerary with others, you can let people know about your travel plans easily using Google Maps.
After you have planned your route, click Share or open the menu and click “Share or embed map” to share your route with others.
5. Use Street View to see a location
Sometimes you want to know what a street, building or location looks like before arriving somewhere new. Google Maps’ Street View can help.
To use this tool, click and drag the yellow person icon to the location that you wish to see. This will change the view from an overhead map view to the street-level view. Next, you can drag the screen around to see more of the street view.
6. Save money on gas
If you are planning a car trip in North America, Google Maps can show you the lowest gas prices in the United States and Canada. Search for “gas stations” on the Google Maps app and you will see a list of nearby stations with gas prices.
The stations will also be marked on the map so you can see the closest ones to you.
7. Skip the lines at popular places
Another useful Google Maps tool shows you how busy a place is during the week. A bar graph will show you the normal busy and quiet times during the week for places like restaurants, stores, tourist attractions and more.
By using this tool, you can plan your trip to avoid the busiest times of the places you want to visit.
8. Find the best places in town
Want to know the best local places? You can ask Google Maps for recommendations.
After you search for a city in Google Maps, click Nearby to find the top-rated restaurants, hotels, pubs, coffee shops, and more.
9. Share your current location with friends
Thanks to a recent Google Maps update, you can now share your location with your friends. And, if you are using Google Maps for navigation, you can share your route with friends so that they can see what time you will arrive at a place.
10. Use Google Maps for a walk or bike ride
While Google Maps may first give users directions to a place by car, it also offers biking or walking directions. You can get those directions by clicking the walking or bicycle icon.
The results also tell you the elevation change of the route, so you know how much energy you will have to use by choosing to walk or ride a bicycle.
11. Get tickets to events
When you search for a venue where performances and concerts are held, Google can show you the place’s upcoming schedule of events. It can also connect you with a website where you can buy tickets for the events.
12. It Even Works Indoors
Most people only use Google Maps for finding their way around outdoors, but that’s not the only choice. Floor plans of airports, shopping malls, train stations, sports venues and other large public buildings around the world have been slowly showing up for a while now, and the list is growing all the time.
To see them, just zoom in on any of the places in the above list (there are many others), until individual shops and areas start being shown. For multi-level buildings, select individual floors via the numbers that show up on the side of the screen. You can even get walking directions between different parts of the building if you need them.
13. Time to Get Out the Measuring Tape
Did you know there’s a measuring tape built right into the Google Maps app and desktop site?
On the website, right-click any point on the map, and choose ‘Measure distance’. Now click anywhere else, and the straight-line distance between the two points comes up. Keep clicking to add more points, and you’ll get the total distance between them all.
In the app, tap and hold anywhere to drop a pin, swipe upwards, and choose ‘Measure distance’. Scroll anywhere else to see the distance between them, and tap the + button to add extra points.