7 Ways to Master Google Maps

Learn Google Map Tricks to find anything!Do you use a GPS or map app to get to new places? 

Is it working well for you? 

Google Maps will not only get you there, it has a wealth of information about your destination.  Below are tricks and features to help you maximize the effectiveness of your map app.  

Of all the map apps available, I prefer Google Maps.  Using Google Maps can help you get places faster, explore the area and save you time. 

See below for ideas and features you may not know about yet.

7 Reasons to Master Google Maps

 Never be late again

 Avoid major construction delays

 Never get lost due to a roadwork detour

 Explore the area you are visiting before you even leave your house

 Find gas stations, restaurants, shopping and banks nearby

 Research hotels and attractions in the area you will visit

 Find nearby walking trails, parks or tracks


Getting Started

Aside from the obvious of typing in your destination and finding directions, Google Maps is a true Smart App.  Very often, you won’t need to type the complete address, Google will suggest popular addresses that match what you have already typed.  You don’t even need to have the address itself, Google Maps is like a search engine, if you type in the name of the restaurant or hotel you are looking for, it will give you the address.  If you have your location services turned on, your searches will be even faster because Google knows where you are currently located.  Google can help you to find your destination using only a partial address or town.

Traffic Patterns

Check the map for your destination at different times of the day to see how much the driving time varies in regards to rush hour.  You can do this days ahead or on the same day you are traveling.  Leaving an hour earlier or later can often save you a lot of driving time or sitting in traffic time.  On a recent weekend trip we took from NY to PA, the drive time varied greatly due to rush hour traffic.  If we left in the afternoon on that Friday, our trip could have taken up to 6 hours as it did for other families in our group.  Instead, we left later and arrived in under 4 hours.  I had been checking the drive time all week on my app to see what time of day the traffic began to lessen and then our travel time would be the fastest.

Alternate Routes 

When you do put in your destination, Google will usually give you more than one choice of routes to take.  You can see the different travel times for each route and easily switch from one to another by tapping on the other routes.  You may prefer local roads to main highways or choose to take a scenic route depending on your needs.  As you are traveling, if an unexpected delay occurs like an accident or road closure, Google will suggest an alternate route for you to take.  On the same trip to PA mentioned above, there was a road closure just one exit before our destination.  We made a quick decision to get off the interstate and take the side roads and luckily avoided a 25-minute delay.  When you make a change like this, Google Maps automatically re-routes your trip using alternate side roads.  You don’t need to worry about being lost in an unfamiliar area because Google knows where you are and where you want to go!

This post is the fourth in a series that will help you to make your phone work harder for you so you don’t need to.

Check out my other tech tips posts about Notes App, Calendar App and the Reminders App.

Siri Guidance

If you choose, you can have Siri narrate your trip for you step by step.  This is not my preference but on occasion, like pouring rain out of state, this feature has come in handy.  I usually set up my map while I’m sitting in my driveway, but I don’t press the start button until I am getting on the main highway.  I’m quite sure that I know how to get out of my own neighborhood and find the highway by now.  Rather than using Siri to give me the directions, I choose to use my children.  Whoever insists on sitting in the front seat has to navigate.  This is my sneaky way for me to make sure my children learn how to navigate and problem solve using the map app (shhh – don’t tell them).   It is simple to turn Siri on or off in your map settings but there are times when she comes in quite handy.

Satellite View for details 

On the top of your Google maps screen is an option to change from traffic view to satellite view.  I have used this many times to study an area I will be visiting.  For a hotel, you can see where the parking, pool, basketball courts or tennis courts are located.  If you are going to an area where parking may be an issue, you can see where parking lots are located nearby using the satellite photo.  If you are visiting a park, beach or even a college campus, you can get an idea of the layout of the buildings and grounds before you go.  For example, if I am attending a conference at a hotel or college that is new to me, I like to check-out the area before I go.  I use the satellite view to find the closest parking for the building I need and where there may be a nice spot to enjoy lunch outside.  I can also see if there is a good area for a walking break to alleviate the stiffness from hours of sitting.  You can often find alternate parking lots, driveways, and access roads you may not have been aware of by looking around on the map.

Google Maps can help you find your destinationExplore the Area 

When you are nearing your destination, type in a one word search like: restaurants, shopping or breakfast. You can see exactly what is nearby.  Not long a go when visiting NJ, we found delicious breakfast at The Committed Pig with fabulous chocolate chip cookie dough pancakes because Google told me it was there!  We also found nearby shopping and a convenient place to park the car.  Just last week, on a college visit in upstate NY, we were very low on gas, and according to the car I had “0 miles” until empty.  There were no gas stations to be found easily, but fortunately my son found one by taking us through some side roads.  He had been zooming in on his map and luckily found a gas pump symbol.

Hotel Stays

When looking for a hotel, you can use Google Maps as a search engine to help check location and pricing of nearby hotels.   Just type “hotels” in the search bar and zoom in to the area you are staying.  Not only do the hotels pop up, you also get approximate price, rating and link to their website.  This saves lots of time narrowing down your choices for hotels.  On that same PA trip, I chose a hotel that was near a large shopping mall so that I could walk at the mall in the morning.

Adding in Exercise & Activities

When I travel, I try to get in as much walking as possible.  I use the map to look for a nearby park or walking trail.  Other great spots to walk include college campuses and shopping malls.  It is of course, less crowded and less expensive if you do your walking early before all the mall stores open.

Logging in to Sync 

When I have looked up a destination or address on my iPad, since Google syncs all its apps, my search is stored.  Days later, when I’m in the car and begin to type the address or name, the info pops right up because Google knows I was already looking for it.  This is a very handy feature and saves me time.

** This post is dedicated to Grandma who, after many hours of map tutoring is a serious Google Maps expert!   She now helps her friends learn how to get the most out of their Google Map app!

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