Plan the Ultimate Travel Itinerary with Google: A Guide to Using My Maps

If like me you’re the organised type who prefers to plan out each and every trip, then you’re probably already using My Maps on Google. But if not, here’s a quick guide to the tool that changed the way I travel.

What is My Maps?

So you’re familiar with Google Maps, right? This is basically an extension of that which allows you to pin point your own destinations on a map. By doing this, you can plan a route for your next city break, or a few key hot spots for your next long-haul adventure.

Accessing My Maps

There are two ways of accessing My Maps, the first (quickest and easiest) way being via this web link: https://www.google.com/maps/d/.

Option two is as follows:

  1. Head to Google Maps
  2. Click the toggle menu and choose ‘Your Places’ with the pin icon
  3. Click ‘Maps’ on the far right
  4. Click ‘Create Map’ and the bottom

I can’t see a way to build a map on the Google Maps app, so you’re best to build them on the Google maps website (ideally on desktop/iPad and not mobile for ease of use), and then view the final map on the Google Maps app during your trip.

My Maps app view: the best way to see your completed maps on the go

Creating your first map

Now for the fun stuff. Pinning your places and being able to organise them in whatever way suits you is going to make your trip organisation ten times easier. I find this especially useful for city breaks when we want to cram as much in as we can.

Here’s how to set up your first map. Note: there’s no need to save as all changes are saved as you go.

  1. Click ‘Create Map’ and rename it so you can easily find it again
  2. Add a description (e.g. 2-day itinerary)
  3. If required click ‘Add Layer’ so you can plan your trip day by day (and rename these too)
  4. Search for your first place in the search bar (your accommodation is always a good starting point) 
  5. Click ‘+ Add to Map’ in the pop up box 
  6. Then if required, drag it to readjust the order or place it under a different layer
  7. Click ‘Preview’ at any point to see how you map is coming along
  8. Exit the tool when you’re done and follow the previous instructions to find it again

Tip: you can also click the pin icon in the top bar to drop a pin on a location without the need to search for it. If you do this, there’s no need to follow step 5!

My Maps website view: creating a new map

Customising your map
  • Click the paint pot icon to change the colour of a pin
  • Or choose an icon for it instead
  • Click the pencil icon to edit the title and description of a pin 
  • Click the camera icon to add a photo or video to the pin
  • Click the bin icon to delete a pin from your map
Extra tips for using your map
  • Click the hand icon to move around the map
  • Click the 3-point icon to add different routes
  • Click the arrows to see directions to a particular pin (you’ll need to add a starting point in the left-hand column)
  • Click the ruler to check the distance between two pins
  • If using mobile, click ‘Legend’ to bring up the list of pins (this is always visible on desktop unless you close it)
  • Using the legend, click ‘Base Map’ at the bottom of the left-hand column to change the map view

My Maps website view: your completed map (showing two different base map options)

Sharing your map

If you want to share your snazzy new map with others who’re going on the trip with you, just click the ‘Share’ button with the person icon and choose between:

  1. Copying and sharing the link
  2. Inviting people via email

And there we have it! It’s as simple as that. I hope this guide helps you plan a killer itinerary for your next trip.

As an example of how these maps work, check out my 3-day Paris itinerary.

Have you used My Maps before? What other tools do you love using for planning trips? 

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