Google’s My Maps: An essential travel tool

A packed suitcase, a hat, and a wallet with a palm tree.

One of my least favorite parts of growing up is that your closest friends move all over the country. One of my favorite parts of becoming a real adult, read: real job with a good salary and some vacation time, is being able to travel and see them.

We’ve been to so many weddings in the last few years, we haven’t had much vacation time to travel otherwise! It’s a blessing to see our friends so happy, but I’m so excited to have a bit more vacation time this year.

We’re about to head out to Colorado for another wedding, but this time we have some time to spend out there before the wedding festivities. We’ll be there for a long weekend and are taking a red-eye home to maximize time in C.O. I’m thrilled to head out to Colorado with time to explore, and so planning has been a lot of fun.

We’re flying into Denver and renting a car. The car rental was the hardest part of the trip planning, so far. I checked with 9 rental locations before finding a car to rent. I’ve got my fingers crossed it will actually be there when we are!

If you’re planning on renting a car in Denver during the summer, reserve your rental several months in advance.

One of my favorite trip planning tools is the Google program, My Maps. You can create a map of all the places you want to eat, visit, or take a hike. You can color code and choose illustrative icons for each spot. And the best part? You can easily see your favorite spots and plan your day based on the geographic location for maximum efficiency.

You can see an example of this tool, below. This is the map I made for our upcoming Denver trip. This map includes most of the places I might want to venture, but it doesn’t mean we will visit each point. This is a self-made travel guide.

It’s easy to say, “I want to be spontaneous” or “I want to feel the city and make up my choices as I go.” That’s fine. If that’s your favorite flavor of travel – more power to you. But look, I’m super indecisive and extremely excitable. I want to stop and see EVERYTHING when exploring a new city. As asinine as it sounds, I need to plan … before I can be spontaneous.

I need to plan, to be spontaneous.

In a big city with limited time or even in a remote area with long travel times between destinations, we plan by geographic area to make sure we don’t waste time on public transit or driving.

How My Maps can help your trip planning

Google’s My Maps makes that process easy. My Maps allows me to see where I am in relation to all the awesome places I researched before getting on the plane. This information is critical to my decision-making process. If I see something really cool that I want to do, see, or eat, I can check in on My Maps to see how far I have to go for my next “must see” and decide if I have time to make a spontaneous stop.

Or, even more important, it makes it easy to decide, “Eh, I don’t want to drive 45 minutes now because there are so many neat things to see here. Lets skip the plan and be spontaneous.”

You can find My Maps by logging into your google account, going to Maps, then clicking the options menu (aka, hamburger menu). In the menu, click “your places” and then on the right-most tab, click, “My Maps.”

Screenshot of the menu, showing that the my maps program is on the far right of the "my places" google menu.

I hope this program is even half as helpful to you as it has been for me. I use it for every trip.

If you liked this post, please consider pinning the image below to your favorite travel-inspired Pinterest board.

Social media image for the blog post.

If you liked this post or are going to use this tool for your next trip, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section. Also, if you have a better tool, please let me know! 🙂

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