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Tips for Using Google Maps When You Travel


Google Maps is a smartphone app that can help plan trips to one or many places during a road trip.

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.

Today, we bring you 11 top tips for using Google Maps. The suggestions come from a recent infographic from Expedia.

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. 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.

4. 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.

Google Maps Download
Google Maps Download

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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

This video shows you how Google Maps Share Your Location works.

You can learn more about sharing your location with Google Maps in a recent Learning English article.

8. 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.

9. Use Street View to see a location

Google Maps Street View
Google Maps Street View

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.

10. 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.

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.

Click on one of the upcoming events to be connected to such a website.

I'm Dan Friedell.

And I’m Ashley Thompson.

Do you use Google Maps when you travel? Which of these tips were new to you? Do you have any other tips for using Google Maps? Let us know in the comments section.

Google Maps Tips
Google Maps Tips

Infographic used with permission, courtesy of Expedia Canada

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Words in This Story

road trip - n. a long trip in a car, truck, etc.

efficiently - adv. capable of producing desired results without wasting materials, time, or energy

itinerary - n. the places you go to or plan to go to on a journey

download - v. to move or copy (a file, program, etc.) from a usually larger computer system to another computer or device

bar graph - n. a graph or chart that uses narrow columns of different heights to show and compare different amounts

elevation - n. the height of a place

drag- v. to move (items on a computer screen) by using a computer mouse or your finger on a touch screen​

venue - n. the place where an event takes place

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