That title might be a bit of an exaggeration, especially since I’ve rappelled down a waterfall in Costa Rica and just this past week swapped my face with Mike Tyson’s (thanks, Snapchat), but we’re going to go with it because this is still quite high on the cool scale.
Google is quickly becoming my OCD best friend. There is really nothing in my life that I haven’t converted to a Google Doc or Keep list, and now I’ve figured out how to use it to map out my vacations as well.
First thing you have to do, after you gather the necessary snacks (I’m looking at YOU, salted caramel popcorn), is log into your Google account and go to your Drive. I’m using this as a starting point because I feel like we’re all familiar with Google by now, but if I’ve already lost you, feel free to send me your questions!
Next, click on the “new” button, then “more”, and you should see “Google My Maps”
This will open an a brand new, untitled, fresh, clean map for us to make a mess out of.
You can name your map by clicking where it says “Untitled map” and typing in the name of your destination. Or you could be much more clever than I was and type in a fun code word for your trip, which really opens up a lot of doors if you’re traveling to somewhere like Middelfart, Denmark or Dick’s Knob, GA. Seriously. These places (and worse) exist.
There are a whole lot of other options here (for example, you can change the look of the base map), but in the interest of keeping this quick and simple, I’m going to let you guys play around with some of that stuff on your own. Again, feel free to send questions if you have ’em!
I used this feature most recently for a weekend in Portland, Maine, so I’m going to share with you some of things I added to my own map and how I organized it. The first thing I did was to add a pin for the location of our hotel. To do this, just type the name of it (or its address) into the search bar at the top of your map, just as if you were searching Google Maps. A little box will pop up with the details and, if this is correct, click the plus sign to add a pin to your map.
Now that you have placed a pin, you can add and edit some of the details. I changed the name of the layer to “Hotel” by clicking where it says “Untitled layer” on the left and overwriting it. This is helpful if you want to be able to turn on/off some of the pins on your map should you only want to see “Restaurants”, or “Beaches”, or “Every Ice Cream Place Within a 5-mile Radius”. You know, the necessities.
I also changed the pin color to black by clicking the paint can icon. I used a different color pin for each of my layers so it was easy to distinguish what category of pins I was looking at.
By using the icons next to the paint can, you can also add an image, directions, or notes for this pin. I used the notes area a bit in my next layer. You can add a new layer by clicking “Add layer” on the left (because what else would they call it, silly?). I made a separate layer for all of the restaurants, breweries, and “other things” we planned to visit that weekend. In the screenshot below, I have already added pins to each layer by following my instructions above.
As I probably mentioned, we are alcoholics-in-training and so we planned to visit several breweries that weekend. I wanted to keep track of the different hours and offerings at each one, so here is where the notes field comes in handy. Click on the pin you want to add information to and click the pencil icon. You will be able to add text here as well as change the name of the pin (if you wanted to).
Keep adding layers, pins, and details until you’re satisfied that your map looks like a good time and then you’re done! Speaking of good time, you can also do a few other cool things with the icons under the search bar, like draw a line from one place to the other, or just because. You can add a pin of your own using the “add marker” function, or calculate the distance between points using the ruler. So if I were planning to walk back to the hotel from dinner in order to burn off some (delicious) calories, it looks like I have about 5 miles to train for, plus a quick swim.
That’s it!! The map will appear in your Google Drive now and you can view your notes or click on pins for directions from wherever you are, plus you now have a little digital keepsake to help remember your trip. How cool is the internet??
p.s. If you’re interested in any of these places in Portland (and a few others!), stay tuned because I’m going to post a recap of that trip next week! With WAY too many photos.