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Route Optimization

Utilizing Google Maps for Trip Planning (2024)

Easily plan your dream vacation with Google Maps! Organize destinations, get directions, and create personalized itineraries hassle-free.

Planning a dream trip can be both thrilling and stressful. To ease your mind, you can follow travel guides, imitate others' plans, or use a Google Maps trip planner to create your ideal vacation. You have the option to use either Google's application or its web interface to:

  • Input destination points
  • Assign color codes to pinned locations
  • Get directions to many destinations
  • Plan and organize the ideal trip

We will go through a step-by-step guide on how you can use Google My Maps to plan a 3-day trip to Florence. But before diving into that, let's discuss why Google Maps is such a fantastic tool for trip planning.


The Benefits of Using Google Maps for Trip Planning

Studies show that 97% of people feel happier when a trip is scheduled. Having something to expect can shift your mindset and mood positively. Yet, without a planned itinerary, this excitement might turn into anxiety.

Here are four key reasons why you can and should use Google Maps to plan your road trips or vacations:

1. Seamless Integration with Other Google Services

Your Google account provides access to various products. These products seamlessly work together to simplify your travel experience. You can:

  • Develop a personalized map and save it to your Google Drive.
  • Organize daily schedules in Google Calendar, including precise locations and map links.
  • Manage your vacation or road trip budget using Google Sheets.
  • Tag location names in Google Photos for effortless sorting and organization.

Google's extensive product integration streamlines recreational trip planning and enhances your understanding of your destination.

2. Reviews and Extra Location Details

While the Google Maps app on your phone may not offer all the features of the desktop version, it still provides valuable information. By planning your trip on the app, you can seamlessly switch between mobile and desktop versions to access:

  • Reviews from fellow visitors
  • Essential details about your destinations, such as website links and operating hours
  • Nearby attractions and activities

Many reviews contain helpful travel advice. For instance, when planning a trip to Florence, you can check out reviews for the Uffizi Gallery, a must-see spot. Namely, although you can buy tickets on the day of your visit, the lines are often long, so it's advisable to buy tickets in advance.

3. Convenient Access to Trip Plans

Instead of storing trip itineraries in documents, you can use Google Calendar alongside the Google Maps trip planner. This combination allows you to visualize daily destinations and easily explore nearby attractions. Google Maps simplifies route creation and enables quick checks of travel times, whether you're walking, driving, using public transit, or taking a taxi.

4. Personalized Reminders and Labels

If you're concerned about forgetting something important, Google Maps offers a solution. Within your trip planner, you can add notes to your destinations. For instance, if you often forget to preorder tickets, you can create a Google Calendar event as a reminder, link the location, and include all necessary notes in Maps.

Planning Your Trip with Google Maps

Now, here is the fun part — planning your trip. Here's how you can do it:

1. Crafting a new personalized map


To begin planning your trip with Google Maps, go to https://www.google.com/mymaps. On your My Maps dashboard, select the "Create a New Map" button.

Once the map opens, you'll find various options. Start by giving your map a name. Click on "Untitled Map," and a dialogue box will appear where you can enter the map's name and a brief description.

For instance, if you're planning a 3-day trip to Florence, Italy, you can name the map "3 Days in Florence."

After naming your map, you can begin adding your desired locations.

2. Add and customize your locations

Now, it's time for the exciting part — adding all the places you wish to visit during your trip. You may already have a list of places in mind. If not, take some time to research the city and compile a list of attractions.

Having a list will streamline the planning process significantly.

In Google Maps, your destinations are marked as "pins." To begin adding pins, use the search bar to look for your desired place of interest.

Let's start with one of the most renowned landmarks in Florence: the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo.

Once you search for the location, Maps will zoom in on it, and you'll be presented with the option to "Add to Map." Simply click or tap this button, and the point of interest will be added to your map layer.


For better organization, you can customize the color and icon of each pin.

When you hover over a location, you'll notice a paint can icon. Click on it to access customization options. Google Maps provides a variety of icons to choose from, including ones for monuments, museums, gardens, and more.

These icons simplify identifying each destination at a glance, making the next steps easier.

3. Divide your trip into different layers or categories


Planning a trip is exhilarating, but it can get chaotic if not organized properly. Breaking down your trip into layers or categories helps you stay organized and keep track of your plans.

For instance, if you're planning a short trip to Florence, it's helpful to divide it by days. Each day can be a new layer or category.

To do this, simply click on "Add layer." Each layer represents a different category. After adding a layer, rename it to fit your plan. As an illustration, you might label them as "First Day," "Second Day," and "Third Day."

Once you've set up your layers, you can start organizing your points of interest for each day.

When planning, you can create any categories or layers that suit your trip. For instance, if it's a road trip, you might divide it by cities and add points of interest within each city. You can customize Google Maps to fit your travel style and preferences.

What is the maximum number of layers you can add to a map?

In My Maps, you can add a maximum of 2,000 individual pins to each map you create.

4. Plan your itinerary


Once you have all your categories set up, it's time to plan your itinerary. You can effortlessly rearrange points of interest by dragging them into different layers or categories.

For instance, if you've divided your trip by days, simply drag each point of interest into the corresponding day's layer.

However, if you're categorizing by city or type (such as museums, restaurants, etc.), that's fine too! You can organize your layers in whichever way makes the most sense to you. The key is that Google My Maps simplifies visualizing your trip. With a glance, you can identify nearby points of interest, making it easy to create your itinerary on paper or in a digital planner.

5. Start Making Reservations

Now that your trip is planned, you can begin:

  • Booking hotels
  • Arranging car rentals
  • Purchasing tickets for events or museums

It's advisable to book as far in advance as possible to secure your accommodations and tickets, as they may sell out quickly if you wait too long.

6. Share Your Map

If you're traveling with companions, you can easily share your map and itinerary with them. Here's how:

  • Return to the main Google My Maps dashboard
  • Click on the share button (the arrow icon) for the map you created
  • Share your map via Facebook, email, Twitter, or embed it on your website if you have one.

7. Access Your Map on Mobile Devices

After creating and sharing your map, you'll want to access it on your phone. Ensure you have the Google Maps app installed, and then follow these steps:

  • Open the Google Maps app
  • Tap on "Saved"
  • Select "Maps" at the bottom
  • Choose your trip's map from the list

Can you create or edit Google Maps using your phone?

Yes, technically, you can create or edit Google Maps on your phone. However, you'll need to use your phone's browser to do so, as the Google Maps app itself doesn't support map creation or editing.

Distinguishing Between Road Trip and City Trip Planning

While Google Maps serves as an excellent route planner, it's essential to adopt distinct approaches for planning road trips and city trips.

Road trips entail more complexity, as you're traveling between multiple destinations, often with various stops and attractions along the way. On the other hand, planning for a single city visit is comparatively simpler. You can select your points of interest, add them to your map, and proceed with your itinerary.

Tips for Road Trip Planning

  • Establish a layer for every stop along your journey.
  • Place pins in each layer to ensure you don't overlook any points of interest at each stop.
  • Consider including hotels along your route, allowing for spontaneous stops if necessary.

Tips for City Trip Planning

  • For multi-day stays, create a layer for each day and add pins accordingly, mirroring the example provided.
  • If your visit is limited to a single day, organize layers based on activity types and select locations as you progress through the day.

Utilizing Your Google Maps Itinerary/Wishlist While Traveling

Using Your Google Maps Itinerary/Wishlist While Traveling:

After creating and sharing your map, and downloading the Google Maps app, here's how to use it on the go:

  • Begin by opening Google Maps and selecting your map.
  • To view all your pinned locations, tap on "View map legend."
  • Note that you won’t be able to tap on individual locations; you can only view your itinerary.
  • To add directions, return to the main map view. Tap on one of your points of interest, then tap the “Directions” button at the bottom.
  • A route planning screen will appear. Enter your next location, and Maps will find the best route for you.

By default, driving directions for your next stop will be displayed.

However, you can change your mode of transport to walking, biking, or public transport at the top of the screen.

Maps will automatically adjust your step-by-step directions based on your chosen mode of transport. Now, all that's left is to enjoy your trip!

Give It a Go Yourself

Ready to try out the Google Maps trip planner yourself?

You can access a starter map featuring some of the best stops in Vancouver. You can access it here. Feel free to make a copy and experiment with the steps mentioned above. Customize the icon colors or add your favorite places.

Here are a few other interesting maps to explore:

Once you're comfortable using Google Maps, you can start planning your trips. Add pins for your must-see locations and create maps for your bucket list of cafes, museums, shops, and restaurants. You'll find it easy to plan your next adventure!


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