Using Google Maps for multi-stop trip plans

On May 15, we did Episode 234 of our “What Does This Button Do?” show live from Italy. The topic was “Using Google Maps to make a walking tour of Rome.” We hoped you watched and enjoyed it as much as we did making it. Especially the Rome part!

Later in our trip we rented a car in Sicily and I used the same techniques to create a plan for driving around the island and stopping at special sights and several B&Bs where we stayed. I was so glad that we came up with the technique in Rome, because it came in very handy for driving around Sicily. You see, teaching and learning are two sides of the same coin. The fact that we taught how to make – and save – a multi-stop tour made me learn it, and it’s a good technique!

Here’s the idea:

  • We have several stops to make over a 5 day period of driving
  • We want driving directions among those several stops
  • We want to save those stops so we can bring them up each day
  • We want to be able to delete stops we’ve already done, and possibly rearrange the ones left.
  • We need directions each day to the next stop

How about using Google My Maps?

If you have created a map of your desired destinations using Google My Maps (see Episode 176), you can bring that map up on top of your Google Maps app on your phone, then you can click on any particular marker and get directions to that location. The technique we came up with for the walking tour of Rome does not use My Maps, just Google Maps itself, so it is a bit more flexible, and that is what I used for our driving tour of Sicily.

Here’s what the map looks like on a computer screen at Maps.Google.com after adding all my stops

Create a map by adding your stops

You can do this on a computer, or on a phone. On a computer, you go to Maps.Google.com, on a phone you need the Google Maps app installed. In order to get turn by turn directions, you will need to use the app on a mobile device.

  • Search for your first destination, in my case it’s Catania airport, when it’s found click on Directions. This will start the list of destinations. You want this to be the first on the list so, rather than entering a “start location”, just click the up/down arrow button, that will move the entry to the top spot
  • Now add your next stop in the blank row provided.
  • To add further stops, on the phone app, tap the 3-dot menu and choose Add Stop. On the computer, you’ll see “Add destination” at the bottom of the list.
  • I have 9 stops, the maximum is 10. If you need more than 10, you’ll need to create another group- see Saving maps below.
  • If you need to rearrange the stops, you just drag them. On a computer, it’s the white dot at the left that you drag, on the app it’s the 2 bars at the right.

Saving maps

The biggest problem with using straight Google Maps for multi-stop plans is that you can’t save them. These are just dynamic maps. As soon as you need to use Google Maps for something else like “where’s the closest grocery store?” your list of stops will disappear. However, there is a way.

On phone app:

  • First tap on Done
  • Then tap the 3-dot menu and choose “Share directions”
  • Now there are lots of different ways to share, but my recommendation is to send an email to yourself. Find the email icon and address the email to yourself

On computer browser

  • Below the list of stops, you’ll see a link to “Send directions to your phone”, when you click that you’ll see several choices
  • I recommend choosing “Email to yourself”

Using your saved map

  • When you open that email (either on computer or phone), you will see a link – it may be at the very bottom. Click that link and you’ll be back to the Google Maps app with all the stops loaded
  • Don’t delete that email! You can open it and click the link to get back to your completed map at any time.
  • With the knowledge that you can get all your stops back, feel free to delete any stops you’re not going to today (just click the X at the right), and perhaps rearrange the ones that are left. You may even delete them all except your next stop making it very simple to follow.
  • The next day, you can start fresh by clicking the link in the email again. That will bring you back to Google Maps with all of your original stops.

To see this technique in action for a walking tour, see Episode 234 below

3 replies on “Using Google Maps for multi-stop trip plans”

  1. Leslie Flanders says:

    Is there any way to see the mileage between each location on the map?

  2. Bill says:

    Great tip about emailing the planned map route. I have always felt that Google My Maps was awkward. I knew how to plan a route and add and rearrange stops, but was frustrated that it could not be saved within Google Maps for future use. Thanks for the tip.

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