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This New Google Maps Feature is a Must for Frequent Travelers

This New Google Maps Feature is a Must for Frequent Travelers

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TL;DR

  • Google Maps is a great mobile app for travel.
  • Save places for later and download maps offline to create a personalized travel “guide”.
  • There’s a new feature! You can now share lists with friends.

Do you have a favorite travel app? I do, and it’s called Google Maps. Besides simply getting me from point A to point B (let’s face it, I’m in a new place: I have no idea where I’m going), it also has a bunch of hidden but oh-so-useful features for travel -- including two brand new ones.

Save Places for Later

One great example of these features: starring and saving places for later. A few years ago, Jon showed this nifty feature. “Just search, star, and save a place for later right there in the map,” he said. My mind was blown. Now, instead of cross-referencing all my favorite spots with a map to see what I was close to, I could see them in the map:

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Download Maps for Offline Access

A few months later, I had another map-changing moment. As we headed out for a camping trip, Jon (clearly the Google Maps master in our household) showed me how to download maps to access offline.

“You mean I can see an actual map of our location instead of a fuzzy green blob -- even without reception?!?” I said, mind-boggled again. I almost upgraded to a phone with more storage just so I could stash maps of all our favorite bike routes on my phone.

Saving + Offline Access = Custom Travel Map

Combining these two features is magical for travel. Before each trip, I can research all the places (and by places I mean bars, cafes, national parks, restaurants, and oh yeah, more cafes) I want to go to, star them, and save them for later. Then, I'll download the map to my phone. Even if I don’t have service, I can see if I’m close to any of my “want to try” spots at any given time.

It’s like creating a custom choose-your-own adventure itinerary for any trip; the perfect blend of planning and spontaneity.

New Feature: Solving the Share-with-Friends Problem

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There was one downside, though. Even though I had spent hours scouring blogs and magazines, gathering friend recommendations, and making notes of all of them on my maps, I couldn’t share it. This meant having conversations like:

“Hey Jessie, do you have any recommendations for Stockholm?”

“Oh yeah! A ton, let me share my Google Map with you… oh… um… this is awkward… uh, just kidding. Can’t do that.”

Fortunately, those days are over now. Google just added two really great features for travel:

  1. Sync desktop and mobile lists: So long as you’re logged into the same Google account, you can save places on your desktop app, and they’ll appear in your mobile app.

  2. Sharing lists: You now have the option to make lists public or create a shareable link to send to friends, family, or followers.

So, that Stockholm map I mentioned? You can now see my Stockholm map and use it for your next Swedish adventure.

What New Features Will Google Maps Add?

I’m also looking forward to seeing if there are any additional functionalities that get added in the future. Like, for instance, inviting others to add things to a list -- similar to how you can invite others to edit a Google Doc -- and embedding map versions of these lists on a website. Both of those functions could take map and list sharing to the next level.

Maps have always been a core part of travel and, in fact, a visual symbol with the power to evoke wanderlust at the mere sight of it. Here’s to always having one in your pocket, no matter where in the world you’re currently standing.

Photo by Jamie Dench on Unsplash.