Google My Maps Review [2024]: Google's forgotten travel tech

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Google My Maps Review [2024]: Google's forgotten travel tech
Planning a trip can be a lot of work when figuring out where everything is. One way to visualize everything quickly is using Google My Maps. Is it the best tool out there, though? Check out our post to find out if it’s right for you!
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When planning a trip, one of the most stressful parts can be picturing where everything is.

Sometimes, you want to lay out your whole itinerary and pinpoint all the stops, restaurants, and sights to best plan what to do and when.

At this point, you're probably very familiar with G Suite tools that can help you plan trips. Tools like Google Maps and Google Drive can help you organize, coordinate, plan, and share trip details and itineraries with your trip mates.

By the way, if you're using Google Docs or Google Spreadsheets to plan your itinerary still, there's a better alternative. Pilot's a more fun, flexible, and customizable tool that's specifically designed to help you plan better trips with your friends and family!

Besides Google Sheets, Google Maps, and Google Docs, there's also a lesser known functionality called Google My Maps.

It takes on all of the power functionality of Google Maps and specifically fine-tune it to help you visualize and organize your trips all on one map.

But just because it's from Google doesn't mean it's the best (Ahem, Google Plus). Let me tell you, it's definitely not what you think it is. Find out whether you should use Google My Maps to plan your next adventure!

google my maps logo
Image Courtesy: Google My Maps

What is Google My Maps?

Released in 2013, Google My Maps is a feature of Google Maps that allows you to create custom maps that you can share with others.

You're able to add custom pins, layers, directions and now pin distances to your map and share it on Google Drive.

Additionally, you're able to change the styles of your base map, create legends and custom icons, and import map coordinates and info using csv spreadsheet files.

Google My Maps is available on Android and iPhone through the Google Maps app. You can log into Google My Maps using your Google Account. Doing this allows everything to be linked and easily accessed with your Google Account

Google Maps vs. Google My Maps

Google Maps is Google’s map function, which allows you to search for destinations and navigate between two points.

My Maps allows you to use that same technology to add many destinations and navigate between all of them. Since you can customize your maps, you have access to more information than you would on Google Maps, and you can also see multiple destinations together.

Aside from creating a trip using Google My Maps, you're also able to do a variety of things that are non-travel related. For example, you're able to create custom maps with geospatial data for mapping and graphing purposes. Through this, you can also export your maps as a KML or KMZ file.

You're also able to create custom maps for route directions as an embed to your website through their share button.

How to use Google My Maps

Google My Maps can be accessed online, and from there you can start creating your maps.

Start by clicking the red “create a new map” button in the upper left corner, and then give your map a name.

Once you’ve done that, you can start adding new pins to locations on your map.

You can also access features like rulers, back or forward arrow, or routing features beneath the search bar.

A strong feature below the search bar is the ability to click the "pin marker" button, which allows you to pin with your mouse and not requiring you to enter in coordinate info like latitude or longitude.

You're also able to add images to different polygons or Placemarks using Google Image Search, URLs, or direct uploads on your map to add a visual layer.

You can click on the menu (3 dots icon) to access a variety of different tools, from importing Google Maps Timeline history or GPS data (.kml) to accessing drawing or attributing features.

As you add more pins, you can personalize them by giving them names or changing the color.

Additionally, I'd say the strongest feature of MyMaps is the ability to add in new layers for different purposes, like different day itineraries or separating restaurants with accommodation options.

You can even layer in step-by-step directions by foot, bike, or public transport. For more detailed instructions, head to My Maps’ Help Page!

Before you're done, make sure you've named all of your untitled layers and your map title! You don't want to be stuck with a bunch of "untitled map" and "untitled layer" in your Google Drive.

My maps
Image Courtesy: Google My Maps

How to access Google My Maps offline

While it’s super helpful to be able to make these maps while you’re planning your trip, what happens when you go offline?

The first trick is to download your map from the website while you are online. You can then access those maps whenever and wherever!

Downloading requires you to set a specific area of the map, so you’ll be unable to download the whole map in one go if it spans large distances. From here, you'll be able to change the base map style if you're using your maps to navigate.

What if you forgot to download the maps, though? No worries! Using the rectangle icon in the upper right-hand corner, you can easily open the map in Google Maps to keep it there for later reference. Just be sure not to close the web page or app once offline!

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to access Google My Maps offline beyond those two methods or taking a screenshot before you start your travels.

How to use Google My Maps to plan a trip

One of the best uses of Google My Maps is for planning a trip.

When you create a map, you can add multiple layers, e.g., you can create a layer for food, things to do, hotels, and more. That way, you can easily edit each aspect of your itinerary and keep everything in one place.

Once you start dropping pins into each layer, you can customize them by color and add notes to include anything you want to be sure to remember as you plan.

Some users have reported that Google My Maps isn’t always accurate regarding addresses, so double-check all locations before dropping a pin from Google My Maps alone. Keep in mind that the layer feature can’t be accessed offline.

You can then easily access your map as you travel to navigate from place to place. If you’re planning with friends, you can invite them to edit your map via the share button, so you can all be on the same page!

I briefly talked about the connectivity of My Maps to other Google apps. This will come very handy if you've already planned a trip on your G-Drive, since My Maps automatically create a file on your Drive, allowing you to put everything neatly in folders to keep all of your travel info in one place.

Directions using Google My Maps

In addition to being able to plot directions between two points, you can also use Google My Maps to navigate in real-time.

By tapping the destination point of where you want to go on your map, you can then select Destinations, and your guided route will start. This feature does require a connection to the internet, though.

Viewing Functionalities

I've talked quite a bit about the connectivity of Google My Maps, but let's explore some of it further here.

With the different viewing features on both mobile and desktop, you're able to switch easily between base layers of political, satellite, or terrain focused maps all with a few taps. Doing this does not affect your default view.

You're also able to turn on and off views for the different layers that will easily allow you to see place names, landmarks, and routes. maps
Image Courtesy: Google

Google My Maps Alternatives

While Google My Maps is a helpful tool for planning trips, it’s not the only option available.

We've already mentioned Pilot, a social trip planner tool that's more personalized, customizable for travel, and more importantly, fun and social.

Tripit is also an app for keeping your itinerary organized and all your reservations in one place, but its very outdated and used primary for business travel.

For road trips, Roadtrippers is the perfect app for building a trip and following the correct route to get where you want to go.

You can read our deeper dive into the best travel planner apps here!

Is Google My Maps worth it?

As a starting point for planning trips, Google My Maps can be a great resource.

It’s handy that you can customize pins and color code them so you can easily see what you’ve mapped out for your trip. However, it is prone to location errors, and accessing it offline can be hit or miss.

While it’s great for getting the lay of the land, Google My Maps doesn’t provide you with an itinerary planning option beyond the notes section of each pin.

You could layer in for each day, but Google My Maps only allows up to 10 layers, and those layers can’t be accessed offline. If you're looking for a more in-depth feature for layering, you might want to check out Google Earth, but the functionalities might be too in-depth for a travel planning purpose.

I definitely think there's better options out there for you to plan trips on. I especially hate using tools that you'd normally use for work to plan something fun and personal use like my travels. That's why Pilot's here for you!

Our rating: 3.6/5


  • Customizable maps
  • Share maps with others
  • Friends can edit maps


  • Prone to inaccuracy
  • Limited offline features
  • Restricted planning

Ready to get planning?

If you'd like a dynamic, travel oriented travel planner tool that you can use simultaneously with your friends and family, check out Pilot!

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Pilot is a social trip planner to discover and build travel itineraries connecting you to resources everywhere, for free. Pilot makes it fun and easy to create and share your favorite travel moments.

Collaborate stress-free with your travel companions and have all the features you need all in one place with Pilot. It’s completely free and ready for you to try it out now!
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Disclosure: Pilot is supported by our community. We may earn a small commission fee with affiliate links on our website. All reviews and recommendations are independent and do not reflect the official view of Pilot.

Miriam Jaffe Blog
Written by:
Miriam Jaffe
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