Last time I covered how to use Google Maps’ Offline Maps feature to get maps whenever you needed them, especially when you are somewhere that you don’t have a reliable mobile data connection. In this segment I’ll cover how to use another feature of Google Maps to put placeholders on your downloaded maps so that you know where you want to end up.
The first thing you’ll need is a Google account so that there is somewhere to save your personal map. Once you have that, head to maps.google.com on a regular computer and type the place you want to add into the search bar. This process may also work from a smart phone, but if you are adding a lot of places I would highly suggest using a regular computer. If the desired place came up you can move on to the next step. In my example I searched for Kinkaku-ji, which is also known as the Temple of the Golden Pavilion and is located in Kyoto.
Once Save to map is clicked, a drop down box will appear. Either select an existing map from the list or choose the option to create a new one. If this is a new map the map will take the name of the first location you add to it.
Google maps will tell you if it was able to save the location to the map successfully.
To view the place markers you have added, click the “My places” button, then “Maps” below that. From there, select your desired map from the list.
You are also able to change the default names and add descriptions to each place marker This came in handy for our trip to Japan because sometimes Google Maps saved the place name in Japanese Kanji and I had no idea what the place was! To edit a place, click the EDIT button, highlighted in red below.
This option also brings up the ability to rename the map (see below). To edit a particular place marker either find it on the map and click on the marker or click it in the list on the left (this is usually the easier and quicker option and I highlighted it in red). A large bubble will pop up from the place marker that allows you to rename the place, add comments about the place (highlighted by the orange box), and also delete the place marker. When you are done editing the place, click OK (highlighted by the yellow box). To save your changes, either hit Save (grayed out in the screenshot below) or Done. Once you have done this for all of your desired place markers your map is complete!
A word of caution with using the custom maps feature on your phone. If you press the back button while in the Maps application or do anything else to clear the map your custom place marker map won’t be view able again until you get a data connection. Unfortunately Google Maps is only able to get the place markers online so be just be careful when handling your phone and navigating. Going to the home screen or running other apps is okay though and I think it is even okay if your phone restarts. Even with this danger the ability to have everywhere you want to go available at your fingertips is amazing.
Hopefully my little guide to these features of your phone will save you some time and frustration. I normally have a pretty good sense of direction, but Japan would have been much more challenging to navigate through without this technology. I highly recommend it for your next trip to a new place!
My next travel tools post will be about My Tracks, which is an application that uses GPS to track your route.