Vacation Planning with Google Maps

I have a confession: I have a type A personality when it comes to vacation planning.  Luckily, once I’m at my destination, I relax, have fun, and am open to spontaneity.  But from the time I book a vacation until I’m on the plane, I take great pleasure in obsessively researching my destination and collecting places to go.

My favorite tool for vacation planning is the “My Maps” feature in Google Maps.  Here’s how I use it:

  • I create a map for each vacation.
  • Every time I read about a place I’d like to visit, I add it to the map.
  • I choose appropriate icons for each location (like a bed for the hotel, cutlery for restaurants) so they’re easy to spot on the map.
  • If I have additional information about a location, like hours, I add it to the description.
  • I share it with J in case he wants to add to it or view it on the road.

If you’ve never created a map in My Maps, these instructions will get you started.  But you may not need instructions – it’s pretty easy: if you ever find somewhere you’d like to go on Google Maps, you can simply click the place marker and choose Save To Map.  To find your maps, click the My Maps link under the Google Maps logo.

Here’s the map I created for last weekend’s DC trip:

View Washington DC in a larger map

Before I joined the smartphone world, I’d simply print the maps. I even survived a few days of driving around Memphis, mostly alone, based on a 1-page printout.

Now that I have an Android phone it’s even easier, because I can view my map on my phone’s Maps app, which means it integrates with the GPS features.  This is done in the Layers section of Google Mobile Maps (the default Maps app for Android, but also available on other phones).

How do you keep track of must-visit vacation spots?

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