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How to Use Google Maps to Plan the Perfect Holiday

Using Google Maps to Plan your HolidayPublished: 18 January 2018

Author: Shilpa Ganatra

Technology is changing every aspect of our lives, including the way we holiday. We can compare flights, hotels and experiences quickly and tailor our time to make it as rewarding as possible. Happily, the next step to making this a seamless experience is in the form of personalised maps from Google.

A genuinely useful addition to their multi-faceted suite of map offerings, it allows users to plot out recommendations, places of interest, restaurants and shops in a new city, so when you get there, you can whip out your smartphone and get the lay of the land straight away.

It’s ideal for those who like to plan to a tee, as much as for those who like to be informed but ultimately make spontaneous decisions. Here’s the Flexicover team’s run down on how to use it for your holidaying benefit.

1. Create a map on a desktop

Unfortunately, creating and editing needs to be done on a desktop, rather than on your phone. To begin, log onto Google, go to maps.google.com, click into Your Places, and then Maps. Click on ‘Create Map’ and enter a title of your map – a description like ‘Athens holiday 2017’ works well. You’ll notice that an ‘Untitled Layer’ is already set up. You can create more layers to show or hide different aspects of your holiday – if you know exactly what you’re going to do, you can create a layer for each day. Or for meanderers, you could create an ‘Essential’ layer (for hotel, booked restaurants and must-sees) and an ‘If I have time’ layer (for places of passing interest).

2. Find places to plot

Now comes the fun bit: figuring out what to do in this exciting new place. Gather all your usual sources together, whether that’s from friends’ recommendations, review sites or your favourite travel guide. Type in the name of the establishment, area, place of interest or landmark and it will pop up with a box which includes ‘Add to map’. Ensuring you’ve clicked on the layer where you want it to stay, hit ‘Add to map’. Like magic, it will appear in your personalised map list (and you can still drag it to the right layer if needed).

3. Customize the pins

To help make it visually obvious what you’ve just added to your map, you can customise them by clicking on the ‘Style’ icon - it appears in the main box in place of ‘Add to map’ once it’s been clicked, or when you hover over the name on your map list on the left. You can then change the plain blue pin to a museum, cocktail bar, pub, restaurant, shop, cycle route etc icon – there are swathes to choose from. You can colour code them too: for example you can use a traffic light colour system to indicate how impressed you are when researching.

4. Add notes and share with friends

The city should now start to look more personalised, and indicate your hotspots when visiting. To completely forgo the need for pieces of paper on holiday, add any remaining notes by clicking on the icon, then using the pencil icon to add the note – handy for reservation details or reminders of who recommended it and why. Once you have your map in order, click the ‘Share’ button on the top left to allow friends to either view the map or add to it.

5. You're ready to go

If you don’t already have it, download the Google Map app to your phone. Your personalised city guide will be in the menu section, under ‘Your places’ then ‘Maps’. So when you’re on the move exploring a city, you’ll always know what’s nearby without cutting into valuable holiday time (and valuable international data).

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