How to Use Google Maps Trip Planner in 2024 (6 Easy Steps)

keyKey Takeaways:
  • Google My Maps can help you plan a travel itinerary with a multi-stop route plan.
  • It offers real-time traffic information, alternative routes, and step-by-step driving directions.
  • Inaccuracies and a limited number of stops are some disadvantages of using Google Maps.
  • If you have 10+ stops, switching to a route planner could be an ideal option.

The mere thought of going on your coveted road trip fills you with thrills and excitement, doesn’t it? However, when planning this trip, it can be quite overwhelming, especially if you are solo traveling for the first time or a bunch of friends embarking on an unguided tour.

While you can always buy travel guides, get itinerary ideas online, or watch popular vlogs about your vacation destination, nothing can beat Google Maps trip planners in crafting your ideal travel plan. At least, I believe so!

Wondering why?

This is because using Google Maps not only helps you create a travel itinerary based on insights you gather from sources like vlogs or online searches, but it also helps you ‘actually’ execute it. And when I say it, I mean Google Maps lets you:

  • Add your intended locations, 
  • Color-code your location pins
  • Show multiple route options to reach them, along with estimated times of arrival
  • Save your favorite routes or places

In this blog, I will guide you through how I used Google Maps to plan my 3-day trip to Athens.

So, let’s get started.

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6 Steps to Plan a Trip Using Google

Below is the step outline on how to use Google Maps to plan a trip:

Step 1: Open google maps

Firstly, you need to log in with your Google account to let Google Maps know your user profile. Then, you can visit https://www.google.com/mymaps to open the My Maps dashboard. 

Click the ‘Create a New Map’ button to open the Maps. Click ‘Untitled Map’ on the top-left corner to open the ‘Edit Map Title and Description’ dialog box. Add your map’s name and description.

For example, in my case, I can name this map ‘3-Day Trip to Athens’.

Open google maps & 3-Day Trip to Athens

Note: 

  • If you have saved any maps in Google Maps, visit https://maps.google.com/. In the sidebar, you can click ‘Saved’ to view all the maps you saved. Select the desired map view under the ‘Maps’ tab, and click ‘Open in My Maps’ to get redirected to Google My Maps.
  • Even if you don’t have a saved map, you can open https://maps.google.com/ and click ‘Saved’ from the sidebar. Under the ‘Maps’ tab, click ‘Open in My Maps’ to be redirected to Google My Maps.
create a map in Google Maps

Step 2: Add location pins

Now, you can add all the tourist places (represented by location pins in Google Maps) on the map. For that, you can use the map search bar to enter your desired location or point of interest.

As you enter the first few letters of your location, you will see a drop-down menu displaying names similar to those in your search. In the image below, typing the first three letters ‘acr’ in the map search has displayed similar results.

Let’s go to New York, one of the most famous tourist spots in Athens.

Selecting this option will zoom in on the location corresponding to your selected option, in this case, the Acropolis Museum.

Click on this pin to open the Location Details window. Tap the ‘Add to map’ option to add this pin to your map layer, as in the image below.

Click on this pin to open the Location Details window

You can also create multiple layers to organize your trip better. To add a layer, click on the ‘Untitled Layer’ that appears by default and open the dialog box to rename and save the updated name (‘Day 1’, for example).

Rename this layer

For instance, for my three-day trip to Athens, I can create three layers with points of interest for each day. 

Similarly, you can add two more layers by clicking ‘Add Layer’ and renaming them as ‘Day 1’, ‘Day 2’, and ‘Day 3’.

you can add two more layers by clicking ‘Add Layer’ and renaming them as ‘Day 1’, ‘Day 2’, and ‘Day 3

Pro Tips:

  • You can add locations to lists by entering latitude and longitude from the pin icon.
  • If you intend to plan a road trip itinerary, you can create as many layers as the cities you want to visit and add your desired tourist spots to each.

Step 3: Customize pins by changing icons (and colors)

After selecting your desired address and adding it to a layer, Google My Maps will show it on the layer. Here, you can click the ‘Edit’ button (pencil icon) pin to customize the added pin to visualize your stops.

For instance, you can select your desired color to indicate all the restaurants with ‘Blue,’ monuments with ‘Red,’ and gardens with ‘Green.’ You can also choose icons to indicate each location as a monument, museum, or garden.

Customize pins by changing icons

Pro tip: Clicking on ‘More Icons’ will open the ‘Choose an Icon’ dialog box, which shows icons separated by predefined categories and sub-categories. You can choose your desired icon from the list and even create custom icons, if necessary.

Choose an Icon

As soon as you complete the location searches and click the save button, the location marker will change its color based on category. For example, you can color-code restaurants coming on your way.

Step 4: Review your customized route map

Next, you can review your route plan to double-check trip itineraries and whether multiple stops are added. Also, make sure your route plan has a list of the best possible routes within the desired time window.

If you wish to shuffle locations between different layers, you can do so by dragging and dropping a desired location to a new position in another layer. You can also click ‘Preview’ to open your itinerary and see how it looks.

Review your customized route map

Pro Tip: If required, you can click ‘Edit’ to go back and make the desired changes. If not, you can go ahead and share the map.

click ‘Edit’ to go back and make the desired changes

Step 5: Share your map

Google My Maps also allows users to share route maps with friends and acquaintances. Now that you are all set with a travel plan, you can share your map with your custom Google Maps with each other. If you have a large group of travelers, it can help keep everyone updated and reach the destination easily.

To do so, you can click on the share button from the options menu. You will get three different options for sharing, including Facebook, Twitter, and email. In addition, you can also embed it on your website.

Share your map

This is how this map will look when you share it on a mobile device.

this map will look when you share it on a mobile device.

Step 6: Access driving directions on your phone

Since you have finished editing the route plan, you can download the map and get editing access on your mobile device by following the steps below.

  • Open the Google Maps App on your smartphone,
  • Sign in with your Google Drive Account,
  • Select ‘more’ from the basic options menu,
  • Click on the MAPS option to open a custom road trip map,
  • Get your pre-generated route map.

Moreover, you can also access offline Google Maps by installing the maps.me app, from which you will get the plan without readjusting the stops.

  • View a Route Map: The route map will then automatically be displayed on your cell phone screen. You can access it when you are ready for the trip.
  • Follow step-by-step driving directions: Later, when you click on the arrow icon (or direction icon), you will automatically be given navigation instructions from the start point.

So, now you know how to use Google My Maps using this step-by-step guide. Let’s move on to find out why it’s been unreliable for a long time.

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6 Reasons Why Google Maps Is the Most Preferred Trip Planner

By now, you must be well aware of how you can use a travel or road trip planner. However, if you are still wondering why Google Maps is the first pick of most travelers, let’s go through the reasons to understand why.

1. Helps you plan a road trip itinerary

It doesn’t matter if you aim for a long-haul journey or a short trip to a nearby location; you can rely on Google My Maps to plan your road trip Itineraries.

Here are some tips for road trip planning with the Google Maps trip planner:

  • Efficiently organize and visualize your itinerary by creating a layer for each stop using the Google Maps Trip Planner. 
  • Add pins to ensure you don’t miss any points of interest.
  • Use Google Maps Lists to research and save points of interest, making the most of your journey. 
  • Include hotels along your route for impromptu stops if needed.
  • Identify gas stations and rest areas along your route.
  • Locate and book accommodations in advance with Google Maps.
  • Share your road trip plans with fellow travelers, enabling collaboration and adjustments in real-time using Google Maps.

2. Easy access while traveling

Unlike paper maps, you can plan a trip with Google Maps very conveniently, as you can access or download Google Maps while you are moving. So, once you are ready with your own map, you can open Google Maps and follow the routes.

Also, it gives you an option to use the offline maps, including significant details like approx. time, turning points, and remaining distance. The best way to access offline maps is by using the Google Earth app. Additionally, you also have an option of Google Drive. You can safeguard your travel plan by uploading your map on Google Drive and accessing it later from anywhere.

3. Provides efficient routes

No matter how far your destination is, Google Maps helps you discover cost-effective routes in seconds. It considers constraints like restricted zones, traffic congestion, and sites under construction. By following Google-approved maps, you are likely to reach your destination without spending much time on the road.

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4. Reviews and Additional location data of multiple locations

Google Maps not only offers basic information but also keeps you well-informed about selected locations (location name). You can:

  • Access user reviews and ratings for insights into the experiences of others.
  • Explore details about costs, availability, and estimated arrival times, assisting in your decision-making process.
  • You can view pictures uploaded by the owner or visitors directly on the mapping platform, giving you a visual preview of the location.
  • Enhance the community by adding your photos using the camera icon and sharing your unique perspective on the places you visit.

Google Maps ensures you have comprehensive information, allowing you to make informed choices, plan your visits, and enjoy a well-rounded trip experience.

5. Customizable Google Map

Google Maps allows users to personalize their own custom map by making changes and adding additional notes to each location.

To add a personalized note or label to Google Maps, you just have to:

  • Launch the Google Maps app and find the location on the map where you want to add a personalized note.
  • Long-press on the location or click on the map to drop a pin.
  • Once the pin is dropped, click on it to reveal the location details.
  • Look for the ‘Add a note’ or ‘Add a label’ option and click on it.
  • Type in your personalized note and save it to attach to the location.

Additionally, you can apply a color code using the Paint Bucket tool and different direction icons to your generated route map. For example, you can put the dot icon on hotel rooms or resorts according to your wish.

6. Automatically gets connected to other Google Apps

Being a Google User, you would have different Google Apps on your smartphone. Such apps will automatically sync with the mapping platform, which means you can access information from any other app or device.

In short, you can access the route plan seamlessly through Google-based applications.  Since you have the Google Maps app downloaded, it will keep other Google apps updated.

Now that you know how to use Google My Maps using this step-by-step guide, let’s move on to find out why it’s been unreliable for a long time.

3 Limitations of Google Maps for Multi-stop Trip Planning

Google Maps is an amazing road trip planning tool for organizing an adventurous trip, but it won’t be a long-term option if you use it for daily purposes or delivery services.

It is because of the below-mentioned downsides.

1. Inaccuracy

One of the biggest cons of Google Maps’ travel planning tool is that the generated routes may not be the most efficient. Using the Google Trip Planner method, you might get an inaccurate stop location.

It may not consider your specific requirements regarding whether to include the toll booths. In addition, the information provided on Google Maps, such as distance, time, and working hours, could be incorrect.

2. One can only include 10 additional stops

Since Google is not the best for route planning and optimization, it allows you to add only a limited number of stops. Hence, Google users can add a maximum of 10 stops while planning a route map.

This means that creating a route for multiple trips on Google My Maps could be a waste of time. So, you should opt for other routing software to carry out such tasks.

3. Navigation accessibility

Google My Maps is built so that the user can customize the trip by adding different icons and a color code. However, accessing navigation from the downloaded Google Maps is not that easy. This is because the direction layers take longer than usual to display on the screen. Thus, you might get frustrated using the Google-powered navigation app on your mobile.

Next, let us know what could be the alternative to the Google Maps trip planner.

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5 Reasons You Should Make a Switch to a Route Planner

Even if you use Google Maps to add multiple layers with many stops, the number of constraints you can consider while optimizing routes is still limited.

  1. Google Maps usually takes longer to find the best routes, so you should use online route planners like Upper instead of the Google navigation app.
  2. Google Maps doesn’t allow users to open a route map in their preferred mapping platform. So, to wrap up the optimization task quickly, you will need routing software.
  3. If you switch to the proper route planner, you can add hundreds of stops, which Google My Maps does not allow.
  4. The right routing software will never take you through bad roads like Google Maps, as it considers all road constraints.
  5. Accessing your route plans is easier on the route planner app than on Google’s navigation app, as it automatically syncs with the web app.
  6. We recommend you book a demo at Upper to know how the online route generator comes out to be on top.
upper-route-planner

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7 Essential Tips for Multi-stop Trip Planning

Now that you know how to use Google Maps to plan where you want to go in the city or on a road trip, here are some additional tips that can be helpful while planning your routes.

  1. Ensure you enter the correct starting and ending times for a trip itinerary.
  2. Choose the mapping platform that allows you to explore the street views.
  3. The navigation app should allow you to access offline maps.
  4. Following the route optimization, double-check if you missed adding any additional destinations or points of interest.
  5. If you have an upcoming trip with more than 20 stops, use the online route planner to plan your trip itineraries.
  6. Use a route planner that can assist you according to driver preferences for your road trip itineraries.
  7. Know if there are parking zones or open spaces available for your tour vehicle.

Frequently Asked Questions

When planning a city trip using the Google Maps road trip planner, consider these tips:

  • Identify and mark key attractions and landmarks as the foundation of your itinerary.
  • Utilize Google Maps lists to categorize places of interest based on preferences.
  • Check and incorporate public transportation options for seamless travel between locations.
  • When planning a multi-day stay, consider creating a new layer for each day and pinning activities accordingly.
  • Use layers for different activity types for one-day adventures, adding spots as you go.
  • Download offline maps for areas with limited connectivity.

Google My Maps stands out as a more advanced and customizable tool for personalized map creation. It offers features like custom destination layers, routes and the ability to add detailed categories, enhancing the planning experience. On the other hand, Google Maps lists are simpler. It provides curated collections of places with basic information such as location name, address, reviews, operating hours, and type. While it is convenient for sharing recommendations, lists may become overwhelming if you add too many places. It lacks the organizational capabilities offered by MyMaps.

Yes, directions layers on Google Maps help navigate by showing various routes, modes of transport, and estimated travel times.

Indeed, Google Trips used to be a dedicated app, but it was redirected to Google Travel after it shut down in 2019. While there isn’t a standalone mobile app for Android or iOS, you can access comprehensive trip planning features through the Travel web app on the official website. Google Travel allows you to explore popular destinations, check plane ticket costs and average hotel room prices, research top sites, hotels, rentals, flights, and more, save/add destinations, and add them to your travel plans. Despite the shift from a standalone app, Google continues to offer robust trip-planning capabilities. Google Maps trip planner ensures you can efficiently plan and organize your travels through the web app.

Certainly! It’s possible to create or edit maps on your phone. However, it’s important to note that you’ll need to use your mobile browser for these tasks, as the functionality isn’t available within the Google Maps app itself. You have to navigate to the ‘Saved’ tab through your browser to access saved maps and lists.

The Google Maps trip planner has a maximum limit of 10 layers. Each map can accommodate up to 2,000 separate pins, and the entire map cannot exceed 10,000 lines, shapes, or places. It’s advisable to carefully plan out your layers or categories, especially for extensive and complex trips.

Your Google account seamlessly links various products to enhance trip planning:

  • Create a custom map and save it to Google Drive for easy access.
  • Collaborating on Google My Maps with shared access.
  • Organize your daily agenda with precise locations in Google Calendar.
  • Organize Photos with Google Photos: Organize photos better by adding location names to Google Photos for easy retrieval.
  • Use Google Sheets for effective vacation or road trip budgeting.
These integrations streamline your trip planning and provide a seamless and enjoyable travel experience.

Yes, the Google Maps app allows you to create an itinerary using the Google My Maps platform. It helps you plan and organize your trips by adding multiple destinations, creating routes, and storing places of interest.

In Google Maps, follow these steps to create an itinerary:

  1. On your computer or mobile device, open Google Maps.
  2. Log in to your Google account.
  3. Select the ‘Menu’ icon (three horizontal lines) in the upper left corner.
  4. Choose ‘Saved’ and then ‘Maps’.
  5. Click ‘Create Map’ and give your trip a title and a description.
  6. Add locations by searching for them in the search bar or pinning them on the map.
  7. Add directions and details to each location, including the name, address, and any notes or comments.
  8. As you move along, save your progress.

No, Google doesn’t provide a specific travel itinerary template. However, you can create your own customized itinerary using Google Maps. You can create your personalized trip itinerary by adding locations, routes, and other information.

It’s easy to save your itinerary on Google Maps once you’ve finished creating it. Choose the bookmark icon or the ‘Save’ button in the map editor. Your itinerary will be saved to your Google account, and you can access it later on from the ‘Saved’ section of Google Maps.

Follow these steps to share your Google itinerary with others:

  1. Open Google Maps and go to your route.
  2. Select ‘Share’ from the menu.
  3. Choose a sharing option, such as social media, email, or a link.
  4. Enter the recipients’ email addresses or select them.
  5. Customize the message as needed.
  6. Send the recipients the invitation or a link.

To find your Google itinerary, you can follow these steps:

  1. On your computer or mobile device, open Google Maps.
  2. Log in to your Google account.
  3. Select the ‘Menu’ icon (three horizontal lines) in the upper left corner.
  4. Choose ‘Saved’ and then ‘Maps’.
  5. You’ll see a list of the maps you’ve saved, along with your itinerary. Click on it to open and view the details.

To create a custom map, simply open Google Maps. There, go to the menu (three horizontal lines) located in the upper left corner. From the menu, click on the ‘Saved’ option and toggle to the ‘Maps’ tab. Then, click on ‘CREATE MAP’ to create a new map.

To break your trip down into layers or categories using Google road trip planner, follow these steps:

  • Launch the Google Maps app on your device or access it through your web browser.
  • If you’re using the web version, click on the menu icon (three horizontal lines) in the top left corner and select ‘Saved’. For mobile, tap on the ‘Saved’ tab.
  • Click or tap on the ‘Maps’ tab and then ‘Create Map’ (web), or tap the ‘+’ icon and select ‘Create Map’ (mobile).
  • Provide a name for your map, and if needed, add a description.
  • Click or tap on ‘Add Layer’. Each layer can represent a different aspect of your trip, such as days, cities, or specific interests.
  • Customize each layer by naming it and choosing different colors or icons for effective categorization.
  • Use the ‘Saved’ tab to organize, edit, or add more layers as needed. Edit pins to include additional information, such as notes or details.
  • If traveling with others, share the map for collaboration. Click or tap on the ‘Share’ button to generate a link or invite collaborators directly.

You can design your ideal vacation effortlessly with the Google Maps trip planner by leveraging the following features:

  • Access detailed destination information to make well-informed travel decisions.
  • Customize your trip by adding destination points, color-coding locations, and utilizing layers, pins, and notes.
  • Integrate seamlessly with other Google products for streamlined and efficient planning.
  • Stay informed with real-time traffic updates, weather forecasts, and points of interest.
  • Collaborate with fellow travelers in real-time.
  • Download offline maps for navigation in remote areas with weak internet connections.

The Upper Route Planner is considered the best routing software for route planning and optimization. It not only allows you to plan routes but also helps you find the exact location considering the road constraints.

Google Maps is popular among daily commuters for organizing a single trip, whereas Upper is the first choice routing software for delivery business owners as it does both route planning and optimization with unlimited stops. Hence, it proves that Upper has an edge over the Google Maps app.

Yes, the online road trip planning tool offers the drag-and-drop option to import CSV files. Upper Route Planner offers a free trial for importing files for the custom map.

No, you cannot reoptimize routes in the custom Google Map. However, you will need an advanced trip planner to plan and reoptimize routes quickly.

No, it is not possible. You will need to open the Google Maps app and navigate from there.

Not exactly. However, you can use the Google Maps app (Android and iPhone) to access My Maps. You will need a Google account to create a new Google map and view your custom map across platforms.

You can access My Maps by opening the Google Maps mobile app, tapping Saved, and continuing using the trip planner. Users can add points of interest to the map, access the directions layer, and view their starting point for each day planned.

Yes. You can launch the Google Maps app offline and download maps for the location. However, offline maps cannot be customized.

Final Thoughts

We understand that Google Maps functionality helps the user organize a trip by allowing the user to know the time of the trip and the distance to be covered. However, the Google-based navigation app also offers limited features that may hamper the trip-planning process.

And this is why you might feel like switching from Google Maps to the right road trip planner. A proper trip route planner has several features, like planning routes, setting priority routes, street views for maps, and editing stops. So, it is time to choose the best trip-planning solution to plan your routes for your next trip and make it enjoyable.

Author Bio
Jeel Patel
Jeel Patel

Jeel Patel is the Chief Executive Officer at Upper. With 5+ years of experience in dev, outbound, and inbound sales, He is committed to growing conversion through inbound and outbound activities. Outside the office, Jeel loves to spend time with his dog and take him on long walks. Read more.

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