How To Use Google Maps to Plan Your Next Vacation

Planning vacations can often be a chore in itself. Which hotel to pick? Which restaurants are nearby? How close are nearby attractions? It can all be a bit daunting. We're all well-versed using Google Maps to route directions, but have you ever considered using Google Maps to ease the burden of planning your summer escape or vacation?

If you like to set-up an itinerary and plan your vacation around a few attractions, restaurants, or parks, Google Maps can be very useful in reviewing their proximity to one another and pre-planning a walking route. Here's how I used it to plan a trip to Austin for a friend visiting my hometown:

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Use the "My Places" feature: while signed into your Google account, create a custom map for a particular activity or day. Name the map after your destination, or even be more specific and attach a date/daye (e.g. "Austin - Day One").

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Save the locations of interest: Use Google Maps to save points of interest, creating saved points for planned destinations for the day, which will then populate a list on the left.

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Edit: Click the "Edit" button to add your own pins, or draw route lines as well - useful for cyclists or hikers.

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Save for mobile viewing: Once you're set and satisfied with your plans, you'll need a way to view them while you're away from a desktop browser. On Android devices, users can see their "My Places" by tapping the "Layers" button on the bottom right bar inside Google Maps app.

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For iPhone users, the same info can be accessed via the Google maps browser site. Click the arrow icon on far right and then "My Places."

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I, however, like to use the Cartographer app [Note: this app is no longer available, but the developers recommend the similar Galileo app]. The travel app offers some added functionality, including access to offline maps - extremely useful when traveling overseas and trying to save on data use.

Pairing Google maps "My Places" with your smart phone can be a powerful travel resource - making visiting a new city a whole lot easier. It's a system I personally use and if you haven't done so yourself it's worth giving a try on your next summer vacation.

Originally posted July 24, 2012

(Images: Chris Perez)

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