In an effort to provide more resources for those who like to travel and explore new places, I thought I’d share one of my recent trip planning obsessions with you all – creating custom Google Maps!
Before any of our trips, I typically spend a good amount of time reading about the area we’ll be visiting, mostly looking for any must-try restaurants or unique things to do. I would usually write these places down in my travel notebook (yes – I have one just for that) or make a Google Doc with links to their websites, but being lists (and sizable ones at that), I really never had a way to visualize my choices in order to make decisions. Michael and I would get to a place with a long list of possibilities, but then spend a good bit of time clicking over to their websites, finding their locations, comparing that to where we currently were, and just spinning our wheels while making decisions. This issue became very evident recently while researching places to stay, eat, and things to do for our upcoming Paris trip. Traveling to Europe can be so exciting, and the options of things to do almost limitless, and planning for that trip was beginning to become overwhelming.
I actually stumbled upon the custom maps (‘My Places’) functionality in Google Maps almost by accident. I was mapping individual locations in Paris (while desperately trying to remember other ones I had just looked up), when I realized that I could save locations to a particular map. From there, it was just a bit of exploring and testing, before I was color-coding by type of location, and naming and writing notes for each of my locations! It was my various pre-trip lists, visualized in one place – travel planning heaven!
Typically, I set our hotel as a unique color (turquoise), and then have separate colors for places to eat and things to do. By doing this, I’m able to start narrowing down choices, or realize when a point of interest will need a little extra planning (a train or subway to the outskirts of town for example). I have a map for each trip, and I can edit or view as needed. I absolutely love it!
Creating your own map is fairly intuitive – if I can figure it out, I’m confident most anyone can, but if you find yourself needing a little help, this tutorial seems rather thorough and quite helpful. Happy planning!