Google maps is a significant part of my vacation planning strategy. But it’s important far beyond the planning process.
How it works in a nutshell: If you save all of your points of interest in Google Maps (either on the desktop or the app) and then save the offline map on your smartphone app, you can access it even if you:
A. Don’t have an international data plan
B. Have an international data plan, but don’t want to blow through it or
C. Are out of cell phone range and need to find your way.
I’ve been in all three of those situations, and each time Google Maps has been helpful.
Here’s how it was helpful during our first trip to Southeast Asia:
- When we got turned around on foot after midnight in sketchy Siem Reap, Cambodia, we were able to easily navigate back to the hotel with no cellular data. It helps you find your saved destinations very easily.
- When we were crossing the Cambodia/Thailand border at Poipet (that’s another story), the immigration official was giving my husband a hard time. He had never heard of the specific street in Bangkok where our hotel was located. (Not sure how he would memorize every alley and street in Bangkok – which was three hours drive away – but hey, whatever.) I was able to pull out my phone and show him the exact location on a map. He immediately let my husband through with no problems. I’ve heard stories of Thai customs/police/officials being corrupt and wanting to extort money out of people for silly things, so better safe than sorry.
- Our taxi drivers have been unclear on the location of our hotels and showing them the same map has been helpful. In the same vein, you can make sure that your drivers are taking the most direct route and not trying to run up the meter.
- This one has more to do with appeasing my own impatience. But it also helps me figure out how far we are from our destination when being transferred. Gratifying and masochistic at times. This was also nice on boat tours to see exactly where we were being taken for snorkeling spots and adventures.
- When the trip’s over, it’s nice to look back and see all of the places you’ve gone to on your app. Often times coming home is kind of a bummer, but seeing those little stars across the globe make that blow less harsh. You can see in the palm of your hand all you’ve accomplished.
What other ways do you use Google Maps for travel?