Exploring a brand new city is perhaps the most exciting part of travelling. However, learning to make your way around a place you’ve never been to before can be a daunting task.
Using Google Maps to plan your itinerary can make the challenge of tackling a brand new destination a lot less stressful. Here’s how I, a self professed travel geek, plan my travel itineraries using Google Maps.
You’ll need to login to a Google Account (if you have Gmail, you already have one, just login to that). Then you can just go to https://maps.google.com/ and click on ‘My Places’, and then the ‘Create Map’ button. Give your map a title, and hit Save.
The goal here is to add the sights you want to see to the map, so you can start to get a good idea of where things are located. This in turn gives you a good idea of where you should focus on staying. It also comes in handy for a lot of things later, such as directions and distances.
Sometimes this can be tricky, especially in certain countries where Google might have trouble determining exactly where a sight is. I’ve found that one reliable way is to Google for the sight name, followed by ‘Wikipedia’. For example: Hagia Sophia Wikipedia – and then go to the Wikipedia page and click on the GPS coordinates in the top right corner.
On the GPS page, copy and paste the coordinates into the Google Maps search box. The coordinates will look something like: 41.008548,28.979938 In Google Maps, this will result in a green arrow pointing to those coordinates, and you can click on this green arrow and save it to your map.
It doesn’t really matter if you don’t intend on visiting every sight you add to the map. It may not be logistically or financially possible. But you can start to get an idea of what areas of the country you should be focusing on, which forms the basis of your itinerary.
Along with sights, you can also add things to your map later, such as accommodations, transit stops, restaurants, airports, etc. Once you get comfortable with Google Maps, it’s one of the handiest things to have in your travel planning toolkit.
For a handy reference link to my map, I like to click on the link icon (it’s right next to the print icon, top left). Take this link and plug it into a URL shortener, like TinyURL.com or Bit.ly – You should never need to update this link, and it will always be an easy way to access your map, or share it with people.
For example, here’s my current Google map for Turkey:
Everything I would possibly want to do in Turkey is all here on this map which makes planning routes and making my way through a brand new place a snap.