It’s more than a dream, and it’s easy…

You land in a foreign country, you’ve heard walking is the best way to explore a new city, but there’s just one thing holding you back: you have absolutely no idea where you’re going, or how to get back. You *may* have heard that Google Maps works offline, but you may not know that you can still get turn by turn directions, even when it is offline, and always know where you are. Here’s how to use Google Maps for turn by turn directions in almost any city, without using any data.

a city skyline with many lightsGoogle Maps Offline

First things first, Google is the realest. On your phone, you can open up Google Maps, search for a city, town or other landmark, and select “download”. You’ll want to do this from a hotel room, or better yet – home – where you have wifi. It’s really easy. Let’s download Hong Kong, for kicks…a map of a city

The first semi obvious step is to search for Hong Kong. When you do, you’ll see something like the screen above. Next, tap where it says Hong Kong, to bring up additional menu options. a screenshot of a phone

Using the screen above, you’d select download, when connected to wifi, to download a map of the entire region. The map will be available, even when you turn on airplane mode, or turn off data. Pretty cool…a screenshot of a cell phone

To the surprise of many, unless you’ve specifically turned off location services, if you simply turn off data, your phone will still be pinging (the blue dot), which will allow you to navigate anywhere you need to go. Simply use the blue dot to always know where you are, without using any data. To be abundantly clear, make sure mobile data is turned off before you leave your hotel, Airbnb, etc. No wonder it’s so easy for the CIA to keep tabs…

a cell phone with a screenGoogle Maps Places

Another incredibly underrated feature in Google Maps is “Places”. This feature allows you to save all your favorite hotspots, or points of interest in a given location, from botanical gardens to bars, with just a few taps. You can even share the entire list with your friends instantly, which is a lot easier than writing a trip “recommendations” email. If you are smart enough to research places of interest, restaurants and bars – and make a list before you head off, these places will be ready to go in your offline map. You can simply use your moving dot to plot your way to all the places of interest, and most importantly, get back to where you started. It’s easy, and free. Here are a few cool places in New York to get you started…

Do you use Google Maps for directions when you travel?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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