Creating Custom Travel Maps with Google My Maps

Feb 8, 2018

Planning your next trip with Google My Maps make traditional paper maps a thing of the past. From collecting ideas and creating itineraries to navigating on the go, using Google My Maps let’s you see your itinerary visually because by seeing where everything is in relation to each other, it’ll help you be more realistic about how much time you need to do everything on your list.

So, What’s Google My Maps?

Google My Maps allows you to create custom maps and add pins for specific locations. It leverages the powerfully informative Google Maps with fully customizable features like adding color coded icons, layered itineraries, driving directions and more. In addition to getting a location’s website, phone number, address and reviews, you can customize your map even more by adding your own notes, photos or videos. Here’re ways you can Google My Maps:

  • Collect ideas for upcoming and future trips. I used to have a lot of Pinterest boards and bookmarked websites of things to do in destinations I planned on traveling to. With so many bookmarks in so many places, I’ve forgotten about them, but I now use Google My Maps (and OneNote!) to store my collection of ideas.
  • Plan your itinerary. In my travel planning process, I use Google My Maps to collect ideas and add all the places I want to see and do. This helps me plan my itinerary by seeing where everything is.
  • Get on-the-go access. Popping into your custom map makes it easy to decide what you want to do today by jogging your memory from the notes you made or getting directions to your next location.

Creating a New Map

Go to Google My Mapsnot Google Maps—and log in to your Google account or sign up for a free account if you don’t already have one. Click on the big, red + Create a New Map button, then rename your new map and give it a description. I’ve filled in the map title and description as an example.

Adding Locations to Your Map

Create new layers by clicking on Add layer on the left box. Organize group layers by activity type such as:

  • Activities
  • Beaches
  • Hikes
  • Restaurants
  • Sightseeing

Start adding locations to your map by entering the name of the business or location into the search bar and click on + Add to Map. Continue this step until you’ve saved all of your locations to your map. Be sure that you’re inside of the layer you want to add a location to or simply drag the marker into your desired layer. Once you’ve added locations to your map, you can add additional information to your marker such as notes, photos, videos and driving directions.

Customizing Appearance

To customize a layer, switch from Individual Style to Uniform Style. Hover over All items, click the paint bucket icon when it appears and select a color and icon style. You can also change the overall appearance of your map by selecting a theme under Base Map.

Adding Directions

This feature is helpful when you’re planning your road trip or day-to-day driving route. To add directions, select your starting marker and click on the Add directions button under the search bar to create a new layer. Then, select your next marker. Click on Add directions to add more to your route. To see driving directions, estimated distance and time, click on the three vertical dots on your layer to view the Step-by-step directions.

Sharing Your Map

Maps are set to private by default, but you can easily share a link to your map, invite people to collaborate or embed it on your website. To share your map, click on + Share in the left box and change the privacy access from Private to Public to the web. To embed your map on your website, click on the three vertical dots on the top right corner of the left box and select Embed on my site to get the code.

Travel With Your Own Maps

Never feel lost in a foreign country when you can travel with your own custom maps. From planning an in-depth itinerary on your laptop to accessing it on-the-go on your phone, Google My Maps is the ultimate travel planning tool to help you navigate through your day-to-day activities. What do you get most frustrated with when you get lost? Leave a digital note below and tell me about the last time you needed help finding directions!

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