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Learning to create a vacation map in Google Maps trip planner will completely change how you organize your trip. I’ll show you how to plot multiple locations, add color coding, labels and layers, so you can maximize your vacation time and fun!
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If you’ve never used Google Maps trip planner to create a custom vacation map, prepare yourself because this is life-altering. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Google My Maps has completely changed my vacation planning strategy.
It all started when we were planning a quick weekend trip to Chicago, and my husband mentioned that I could make my own custom Google map. Cue the blank stare from me. He quickly showed me how to save a trip in Google Maps. Within minutes I was labeling, color coding, layering, and adding directions. And it was FANTASTIC.
That Chicago weekend was so great – not only because we spent time with family members we adore, but because we always had the information we needed right at our fingertips. It saved me so much stress.
In this post, I’m going to show you exactly how to plan a trip on Google Maps so you can get organized, be prepared, and basically blow your entire family away with your travel planning skills!
WHY YOU SHOULD CREATE A GOOGLE MAPS ITINERARY
In the past, I had always done a ton of advance research on our destinations, and I made notes of attractions to see and major eating spots. But I never really strategized our days and I didn’t have a succinct way of organizing that information.
Like a lot of travelers, we would find ourselves standing on a street corner searching our phones for a nearby cafe. As our son got closer to a public meltdown, we would finally give up and head towards the nearest Starbucks.
Learning to create a Google Maps itinerary meant that I always had a plan ready in advance (and usually a plan B too!). And that was a game changer!
Just imagine being completely prepared for every situation. Like when you’ve just visited your second museum of the day and everyone could really use a boost. Super Mom (that’s you!) confidently leads the family one block West, directly to a cafe serving the best Americano in the city with a side of gluten-free treats for the kids.
That’s the payoff for using your destination research to create a custom Google Map with pins. So let’s get started!
HOW TO PLAN A TRIP ON GOOGLE MAPS
1. CREATE A NEW MAP AND NAME IT
First head over to the Google Maps trip planner and click on “+ CREATE A NEW MAP”. Now you’ll click where it says “Untitled Map” to edit your map’s name to whatever you want, and click SAVE.
2. CREATE YOUR FIRST LOCATION PIN
Let’s start by adding a pin for your destination airport. Just enter the airport’s three-letter identifier code into the search field. The full name and address should appear in the drop-down. Choose the correct entry and then click “+Add to map”.
3. HOW TO PLOT MULTIPLE LOCATIONS ON GOOGLE MAPS USING COLORS, LABELS, AND LAYERS
Color coding, labeling and layering your pins makes it super easy to keep everything on your map organized.
With your pin’s label open, click on the little paint bucket at the bottom. A flyout menu will appear with colors and labels to choose from. Super easy!
Now let’s add a new layer to our map. Layers can be turned on or off at any time, making it easier to find what you are looking for on the go. Adding a layer is easy – just click “Add layer”. You can drag layers up or down to change their order AND drag individual pins between layers. To rename a layer click on”Untitled Layer”
Before you continue adding more pins you will need to decide how you want to organize your Google vacation map. There are two basic ways to do this. The first (my favorite) is to organize the layers by type of pin, like this:
- Major Attractions
- Photo Spots
The second way is to create a layer for each day of your vacation. As an example, on this map I have included the Louvre, a nearby restaurant with great gluten-free options, a highly recommended cafe that is also close, and a few other fun spots. They are all on one layer labeled Day 1.
You would continue adding pins for everything you plan to do on this day to the same layer. Then when you’re on vacation you would just turn on the layer for the appropriate day.
There’s no right or wrong way to organize your Google Maps itinerary, so just choose the one that works for you. Now we need to add some more pins!
4. ADD A HOTEL PIN TO YOUR VACATION MAP
Let’s add a hotel pin. On our example map, we will use the Renaissance Paris Vendome Hotel, a newly renovated Marriott boutique hotel within walking distance of the Louvre.
Just add the address to the search bar, and the name of your location should pop up. When I’m searching for hotels I like to use the address to do this instead of just searching the name. Hotel chains will often have multiple locations in a city and it is very easy to inadvertently choose the wrong one. If you do a search by name, make sure you confirm the address that pops up is correct.
I always use a bright color to label our hotel, and I don’t use that color for anything else. That way it’s super easy to find on my map at the end of a long day. However you choose to organize your map, you’ll always want to leave the hotel layer on.
5. ADD PRIORITY PINS TO YOUR VACATION MAP
Next you’ll need to fill out your map with what I call Priority Pins. These are your must-see pins! Based on your destination research, go ahead and label all of the attractions that are most important to your family. These might include:
- Famous Landmarks
- Anything else that is a must-do for your family (For example: a certain restaurant one person is dying to visit).
6. ADD FUN PINS TO YOUR VACATION MAP
This is where the magic is. For each major attraction your family plans to visit, do a little research on the surrounding area. You’re looking for the best and most special nearby cafes, shops, businesses, playgrounds, Instagrammable murals, etc – whatever appeals to you. Here are a few ways that you find these gems:
- Google search for the best of. For example: best coffee near the Louvre, The Tuileries best coffee, best cappuccino in Paris.
- Zoom in on your map and take a quick look at the area. In the past, I have found fantastic restaurants just by zooming in and clicking on restaurant names that sounded like something we would like.
- Hop over to Instagram and search places. If any accounts stick out to you, click through to see if they if they featured any great restaurants or other spots near that location.
- Google search for the most Instagrammable spots in a city or near a specific attraction. This is how you’ll find fantastic murals and get great photo inspiration. But it’s also how you’ll find the bakery selling unicorn macarons or the cafe doing killer latte art!
Enter these places on your map as you go. Make sure you Color code and label each one, and add it to the correct layer so you can find it easily while traveling. I also like to add a quick note about what makes that spot special so I don’t forget (just click the pencil icon at the bottom of the pin label to do this).
The Fun Pins are not must-dos. But they are the little extra, optional stops that will make your vacation so much better.
For my family, I label places like amazing independent coffee shops, the best gluten-free-friendly restaurants, music shops, and fun murals. As a result, when we finish up at one of the major attractions, I’m prepared for whatever comes next. Whether all of us are starving for lunch, or we simply have a little extra time to kill, I already have a plan.
Now that you know how to plan a trip on Google Maps it is time to get started mapping your own vacation.
Once you create a Google Map with pins I’d love to hear about it! Where are you traveling and what did you add to your map?
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Use the Vacation PlannerSheet to make decisions about flights, hotels, activities, and restaurants so you can easily prioritize and plan your vacation in a snap! Get the password for the library with my free Vacation PlannerSheet by filling out this form: