Pssst. Come here. I’ve got secret to tell you. There’s an awesome tool out there to plan your travel and adventure itinerary that not a lot of people know about. It’s better than the best-paid apps you can buy and better than your travel agent. And you know what else? It’s free! Google My Maps has all the features you’ll ever need to embark on your great grand adventure. It’s the best thing since sliced bread. It’s better than Superman…

Okay, enough fluff marketing talk…What is it? It’s Google My Maps!

Wait what? Everyone’s heard of and used Google My Maps!

Why of course that’s true…But not everyone knows there’s a subset of Google maps you can customize and make your own. Using the Google maps engine (former name), Google My Maps, allows you to save waypoints, plug pictures, take/save notes, and plan itineraries all in a simple easy to use map-like graphical interface. It’s a Wanderluster’s dream come true!

Well, if it’s the best thing since sliced bread, home come nobody knows about it?!? Just like their other brand offerings, like Google Fi, Google doesn’t seem to invest any time or money in promoting some of their products. I’ve long used Google Voice as a preference to a standard phone number and that too is deep under the cover – I don’t get it, the power of VOIP (Voice Over IP) and there isn’t a lot more user base? Crazy!

Here’s one I made for my Romanian and Balkan itinerary.

I’ve used Google My Maps to plan my drive around Europe trip in the summer of 2013.  I’ve discovered so many interesting places far more than I have via lonely planet or trip advisor.

Convinced yet?

Give it a go!  It’s free and easy.  All you need is a Google account so you can use your map anywhere.  You can open one here.

Here’s how you get started.

  1.  Go to https://www.google.com/maps/d
Welcome Google My Maps

Welcome, Google My Maps.

 2. Create a New Map
  • Click on the “Untitled map” link on the upper left-hand panel
  • Type the Name of your map in the “Map title” text box
  • Type a description (Optional)
Google My Maps Title

Google My Maps Title

 3. Search for the Starting Point of you trip.  
  • Pick from the Autocompleted Value below the TextBox.
  • If your place isn’t in the Autocomplete box, don’t worry.  Just click on the Waypoint icon below the Search text box and click anywhere on the map where your location is. You can drag the waypoint around by clicking on it and holding the left mouse button down.  You can then drop it on the location of your choice and edit the waypoint accordingly.
Starting Point Google My Maps

Starting Point Google My Maps

 4. Click on “+ Add to Map”
Add To Map Google My Maps

Add To Map Google My Maps

 5. Customize the Icon of the waypoint.  
  • You can change the title/name.  Customize the Icon.  Customize the colors.  Add an Image or Video.  Add a link to another website or resource.   You can even change the styling of the base map!

Change Icon Shape and Color

Change Icon

Change Icon

Edit Name and Description

Change Name

Change Name

Add Image or Video

Add Image

Add Image

 6. Add directions between waypoints.

Directions

7. Share your map with friends and family or the world!  
  • You can even give somebody edit rights so you they can plan your trip with you.  Here’s the Map I created in 2013 to plan my Europe Trip.
Share

Share

 8. Download the My Maps App on your Android Phone (iOS users, you can view it in Safari browser).
Android Google My Maps

Android Google My Maps

 

I use Google My Maps for planning my road trips and discovering new locations in conjunction with Pinterest or other resources to find new places to photograph.  For example. I browsed some cool photos from Pinterest of Cappadocia Turkey.  I found some really cool photos that were very inspiring, prompting me to visit the place. Then I opened up Google My Maps.  Plugged “Cappadocia” in the Search box.  Et Voila!  It popped open the location with a waypoint.  I copied and pasted the Pinterest URL on the description box so I can refer to the picture later for reference.

The sky’s the limit.  You can draw lines and shapes between waypoints on the map. Or you can use it to budget your fuel expenses using directions and distance.  You can use it for events, camping trips, festivals, et., You can even import custom addresses and locations.

Save Links Google My Maps

Save Links Google My Maps

 

Here’s a video highlighting Google My Maps features:

Need more resource?  Go HERE.

HAVE YOU USED GOOGLE MY MAPS TO PLAN YOUR TRAVEL?

 

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