If you’ve got a vacation coming up, I have a super useful tutorial for you today to help you easily organize and manage your trip. Before I leave on a trip, I always create a custom travel map so I can keep track of my hotel, sights I want to see, photo ops, restaurants, and more all in one easily accessible spot. That way I can see where everything is, see what places are close to each other, and have directions and notes right at my fingertips. Today I’m going to show you how easy it is to make one. It’s super simple and you can probably create your own map in 15 minutes or less!
Google recently updated their maps to the new My Maps, so this tutorial will show you how to create a map with the new My Maps.
Let’s get started! :)
To start, go to https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/?pli=1 and click Create a new map.
In the top left-hand corner, click where it says Untitled to give your map a new name. I named this map New York City.
Now use the search bar at the top to start adding locations to your map. Just start typing the name and Google will pull it up. You don’t even have to know the exact address. I started with our hotel, the Omni Berkshire Place in NYC.
Hit Enter or click the magnifying glass and a list of your search results will appear on the left. Click the name in the list, or on the pin that appears on the map, and an info box will pop up. Then click Add to map.
Repeat this step for as many locations as you want to add to your map. Just search for a location…
Then click Add to map. This part goes super quickly!
If a search result has multiple locations, you can see all its locations on the map, along with the other places you’ve added to your map so far, so you can see which location is closest to places you’ll already be. Click the pin on the map of the location of your choice, then click Add to map.
Once you’ve added all the locations to your map, you can customize the icons to keep them even more organized and easily recognizable. Click on a location in the list on the left, then click the paint bucket icon.
You can change the color and shape of the icon, or you can click the More icons button.
This will pull up a ton of icons you can choose from!
Here’s an example of how my maps usually look. My hotel is always green, so it stands out and I always know how to get back home. I have broadway shows, photo ops, and shopping locations. Bakeries are always pink. Lunch is light blue, and dinner is dark blue. Now I can look at the map and automatically recognize what is around me and what I can do.
I also like to add notes and reminders about certain spots. To do this, click on a location in the list, then click on the edit pencil in the info box that pops up.
Write down any notes to help you remember what you wanted to do at a certain location.
You can also add a picture to help remind you! Click on the camera icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the more info box.
You can’t upload your own image, but you can add any image on the internet if you know the URL, or you can just do a Google image search for a specific image.
Love this feature, adding photos is so quick and easy!
Accessing the Map
So that’s it! You have a super organized, useful map with locations, notes, and photos. Now you need to be able to access it on the go.
If you have an Android, you can use the My Maps app from the Play Store.
If you have an iPhone, you can access the map from Safari. Just go to this link on your phone: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/?pli=1
Click Open a map. You may need to sign in to your Google account.
A list of all your created maps will come up. Click on the map you want. All your custom locations and icons will appear on the map. It will also show your current location so can see where you are in relation to places on the map.
You can click on the three-line menu bar in the top left-hand corner to pull up a list of your saved locations.
From here, you can click on a location to see the notes/photos you added. You may need to click more than once, then you’ll need to click the menu button again to make the list go away so you can see the map.
Here’s what it looks like.
From this screen you can scroll down to get the address, then press and hold to copy the address. You can paste this in your maps app for directions.
Accessing the map via Safari definitely works, and is the best free option. But as you can see above it is a little clunky. If you’re a frequent traveler and avid map-maker, you may want to look into the new My Maps app for iPhone for $4.99.
Now let me just say, in a world where we are spoiled with so many good free apps, even paying 99 cents for an app seems like a splurge to me. And while I wouldn’t blink twice at spending $4.99 on a cupcake I’ll enjoy for 30 seconds, paying $4.99 for an app seems way too high, even though I know I’ll use it over and over. I don’t know why my brain is wired that way. Anyway, I hardly ever pay for apps, especially ones that cost more than 99 cents.
However, after giving in and downloading it, this app does everything I want it to do exactly the way I want it to do it. I’m I’m not sure I can say that about any other app I use. In the end, this app was worth the high price for me.
I’ll give you a quick tour so you can see what it does. Either way you choose, you can still definitely access your map for free from Safari!
Open the app, sign in to your Google account, then click on the three lines in the top left-hand corner to pull up a list of all your maps. Click on the map you want.
Here you can see all your saved locations and custom icons, as well as your current location. Click on the menu button in the top right-hand corner to pull up a list of your saved locations,
You can see the custom notes you’ve added from this screen.
You can click on a location and it will zoom into that spot on the map. You can also click the info button….
And it will show you any photos you have added.
Or you can click the car icon, and it will give you directions.
You can open the directions in any map app you want. From there, you can choose whether you want car, walking, or public transit directions.
If you open the map and all the locations when you have internet, the app will even cache the information so you can access it offline.
So that’s it! Now you can stay organized and have directions and notes right at your fingertips.
Here is a link to my NYC map with all my favorite places. You can use this link to see how the maps look and work on your phone.
We love walking and taking public transportation when exploring a new city, but sometimes you just need a taxi. We’ve started using Uber to quickly call a car. Have you heard of Uber?? It’s your own personal, private driver for the same price of a taxi. When you open the Uber app, it will show you where drivers are near you, and tell you how long it will take for a car to get to you. Just click Set Pick Up Location and your private car is on it’s way. You can even watch it on the map as it gets closer to your location. It will send you an alert when your car gets close so you know when to go outside. No more waiting outside in the freezing cold or rain for a taxi! You add a credit card or Paypal account to your Uber account, and you never to worry about paying the driver. It’s all done through the app. You get in the car, the driver takes you to your location, and you get out. No fumbling with paying, you can just get out and leave! You don’t even have to tip — it’s built into the price of the service (which is still competitive with a taxi!). It’s seriously the fastest and best way to get where ever you need to go!
Use this link to sign up with Uber to get your first ride free!
Happy map-making and safe travels!! :) xoxo