I would literally be lost without Google Maps. It's one of the most used apps on my phone and something that I simply cannot travel without. Google Maps turned ten years old on March 24th and in celebration I wanted to share some tips for how I use it. This might not be any new information to you but hopefully if you haven't discovered what the app can do, this will be a little bit helpful.
When using Google Maps, you can search for places you want to go and it will pull up directions. Not only will it give you Zagat ratings of restaurants, but if it's a business you'll also see info like hours and links to the menu or website. I like that it will give you alternate modes of transportation to choose from. This is most especially helpful in cities that have public transportation. It will tell you exactly which trains or buses to take to your destination along with what time they depart. When I was living in Paris, this was a key tool for me since I had no idea which trains went in which direction!
By far for me the most helpful tool in Google Maps is being able to save my favorite places. To save your favorites, search for the destination and when it comes up on Google Maps select the star/save until it turns yellow. This will add a star on your map for the location. It also adds the place to your list of favorites and puts it into your history.
Saving places to my favorites has been a huge game changer for when I travel. I can pull up my map of the city and see where my favorite places are. It's helpful if I'm in a certain neighborhood and wonder what else is around or comes in handy when I want to quickly see how long it will take me to get somewhere. I frequently see places on Instagram or a friend tells me about somewhere that I immediately search for then favorite in Google Maps. That way it's already stored there for when I'm in that city or around the area.
I have my favorite places saved in my Google Maps for cities all over the world. All of your maps can also be saved for you to access when you're offline, in case you don't have cell reception.
Another great thing about the favorites function is that since it's all connected through your Google account, you can also pull up the Google Maps with your favorites when you're at your desktop. It makes it so easy to plan out an itinerary or send someone directions. You can even create custom maps to share (like I've done here for my Paris macaron guide) by following these instructions.
One last Google Maps tip is the dropped pin function. If you hold your finger down on a spot on the map, it will place a dropped pin there. You can then choose to save or share this location. I've found this comes in handy when I'm in an unfamiliar place and not certain how to send directions to friends who want to meet or if you need to be picked up. You can send the pin and it will give them a link for it to pop up in their own Google Map. You can also share any location, like the ones that you've saved as your favorites as well. How easy is that to give directions?
There are a lot of other neat things that Google Maps can do (like give you traffic patterns or bike routes) but those are the key ones that I find the most handy, especially while traveling. It really has changed my life and made me feel like I can get out + explore anywhere.
Read the story of how Google Maps started and grew here - pretty cool!