How to Create a Custom Google Map for your Vacation

I like plans. I am a planner. And yes vacations are supposed to be relaxing, but I’ll admit it. I can be a bit…. obsessive… when it comes to planning trips. I just love details and making sure that everything will work out and have good timing and ensuring that all the fun things will get done. I want to see as much as possible while somewhere new! I’m totally fine (or fine enough…) playing things by ear on a trip once we are there, but leading up to the trip that thought stresses me out to no end. I just imagine getting to the fun new location and wasting precious time just sitting around saying “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know, where do you want to go?” “I don’t know, do you have any ideas?” And then the next thing we know it’s 2 hours later and we still haven’t done anything. NIGHTMARE!

So when some friends and I started dreaming up our fun trip to Boston, we found a good unspoken compromise. (We’ve been friends for 10 years at this point so we all knew this is how it would go.) They’d let me do tons of research and find places we could potentially go and things we could potentially do, and I’d have a go with the flow attitude once we got there. And I genuinely don’t care what we do or when, I just like to know that we have options at the ready!

I decided that a good thing to do for this particular trip, filled with so many potential fun things to do and see and eat, would be to make a massive custom Google Map. That way we could always know what was close by when we wanted coffee, see what historical things we could knock out along the way to a destination, and see where we wanted to go when it was time to eat dinner. I’d never actually made a custom map before, but y’all it was SO easy! I’m going to share with you how to do it step by step so you can make one for your next adventure, too!

Step 1: Create a New Map

First, you need to make sure that you’re logged into you Google account (that way your map gets saved to YOUR maps and you can access it later! Once you’ve got that taken care of, go to Google Maps. I do this on my laptop where its’ easier to work on a larger screen. Once you get to Google Maps, click the hamburger menu on the screen to bring up the maps menu.

On the menu, go toward the bottom and click on Your Places.

Next, click on the Maps tab. Then, click on Create Map.

Step 2: Create Layers

So I guess this part is kind of optional, but if you’re going to create a custom map, you might as well throw some layers on there. This is just a good way to differentiate between different items on your map and it will let you sort and filter out items based on what you’re looking for.

From your new map, click the Add a Layer button.

Now, give your layer a name! Once you do, click Save.

Do that for as many layers as you want to add! For my Boston map, I had five and they worked out pretty well for us.

Step 3: Add Locations

This is the really fun and more time consuming part. You can import locations from an external doc if you have them, but I find it’s plenty easy just to add each location individually.

So now, you just need to search for your locations. (User tip: if you click on the layer you want it to go into before searching, the location will automatically end up there when you add it. You can drag locations around between layers later, but this will just save you a step.)

When you find the location you’re searching for, click Add to map.

Once you’ve added the location, you can edit the pin color if you want (I like to give each layer separate colors).

If you click on the pencil icon, you can also edit the entry and add little notes for that location. Click Save when you’re done.

Now keep doing that until all your locations are added!

Step 4: Use and Enjoy

Once you’re added all your locations and layers- you’re done! Good job! Now you just have to use and enjoy the map you created! Usually this will be done on a phone; here’s how to find that awesome map you just made.

On the Google Maps app, click the hamburger menu in the search bar, then click Your places.

Next, click the Maps tab, and then select the map you just created.

Now look at your beautiful map! You can click View Map Legend to see a list of all your locations, and here is where you can toggle each layer on and off and only see the individual layers you want.

So there you have it! That’s it! It doesn’t seem so hard, right? I know you can do it! It’s really nice to just have a bunch of custom map locations at the ready, and you can even share your map with others so the people on your trip can see it, too!


Hitting Reset After a Vacation

Vacations are just the best, am I right?!? The fun and the food and the adventures and the food and the relaxation and the food! Clearly you see my priorities when I’m in a new place – I love seeing all the sights and trying ALL the local foods! I really did a good job getting my fill with all things tourist-related while in Boston last week. That city is delicious.

But now that I’m back home and no longer really sick, it’s time to get back in the swing of things and get my life back on track. When I’ve had a particularly indulgent trip (you know, one that includes cannolis and the world’s best frozen margaritas and black and white cookies and coffees and you get where I’m going here), I really like to hit a reset button when I get home and get my body and my mind back to feeling the very best. I do this is a few different ways!

Reset: My Face

It’s all fun and games and vacation treats until you get home and it’s breakout city. I know that when I’m on vacation, I’m not the best about getting my skincare routine done fully each and every night. Shoot, I consider it a good night if I even remember to take my makeup off before passing out from all the fun (or in the case of my most recent trip, passing out from NyQuil. Which happened. In the middle of a conversation. Sorry gals!)

So when I get home and my face is feeling dry and neglected, I really like to make sure that I’m taking the time to get my face back in order. This means that I’m washing my face morning and night (using this cleansing sponge), using this rosehip facial oil, and making sure I use a good moisturizer both day and night.

Since my skin is normally super dehydrated after all the plane rides and hotel rooms and generally not drinking enough water, I always make sure that I do good hydrating face and eye masks when I get home. This face mask is always my favorite and I found some gold eye masks on Amazon that might not even do anything but I like the little pampering feeling that I get from using them!

Reset: My Nutrition

After eating ALL the yummy food with little to no hesitation while on a trip, it’s good to kind of reign it in when I get home and get my body back to a more normal state. I try do get lots of healthy groceries and make the glowing green smoothie for a few mornings as my breakfast. It’s a great way to start your day with greens and fruit and no added sugars and starting my day with all the healthy things really helps me keep that mindset for the rest of the day.

For the rest of my food, I do what I call “Half-30” where I try my best to limit sugar, gluten, grains, alcohol, and processed foods and eat as many wholesome, clean meals as possible where I focus on lean protein and lots and lots of vegetables. (This time was kind of rough since I was so sick and ate nothing but soup for 5 days… but I’m starting back with this now!!)

Reset: My Movement

I feel like you get where I’m going here – it’s time to get moving! Although we did a TON of walking while in Boston (including a 2 mile trek from our apartment to the Boston Tea Party Museum), we also did a lot of sitting and relaxing, too. So now that I’m back, I really want to make sure that my body is getting back to a normal rhythm of movement, but I also don’t want to go too crazy and overdo it! So my plan is to simply walk! I’m making sure that I walk for at least 30 minutes every day so I get back in the habit. It’s crazy cold here in Dallas right now, so I’ve been walking on the treadmill at the gym while listening to an audiobook!

Another thing I make sure to do is STRETCH! Stretch every day! It’s nice to just take 10 minutes at the end of the day and relax while stretching, and it helps to make sure I’m feeling limber and ready to walk the next day, too!

Reset: My Mind

There always seems to be a ton of stuff to catch up on when getting back from a vacation, right? So in order to actually get all the things done, I really try and focus on keeping my mind focused on the important things. Unfortunately, watching TV does not fall into that category… so I try to make sure that I’m not mindlessly wasting my time watching The Office for the 14th time, read a little bit more instead, and make sure that I get a solid night’s sleep each and every night.


Five for Friday #46

Hello and happy Friday! I’m still trying to get caught up on rest and life from my trip to Boston (I got back a day later than expected because of delayed flights and then came back with the world’s worst cold!) but even though I feel a little bit like my face is dying, I’m also feeling so mentally refreshed from that trip, too! It’s so good to see friends and hug people you don’t get to see very often and catch up IN PERSON instead of on a group text thread. I can’t wait to share pictures of what we did and what we saw and let’s be honest, most importantly what we ate! I might even try to make a little vacation video for my friends and a fun reminder of our trip – if it looks good enough, maybe I’ll even share it here, too!

ONE || TheSkimm has been killing it with their extra content (like their podcast, which I love!), and I love how they teamed up with Katie Couric on this Getting There series. Katie talks to lots of different people about what they do, how they got there, and what they encountered along the way. They’re fascinating and not too long and this was one of my favorites (I love all the old pictures!!) I love when she said that she wanted to hire happy people – you can’t teach people to be happy and isn’t that the truth!

TWO || I looked at this topcoat from J.Crew and I love it, but now it is in EVERY SINGLE AD on every single website I visit. It’s definitely out of my budget, but I keep seeing it and it’s just so pretty!

THREE || Did you know that the Property Brothers have an online store now?!?! I just found out about it a few days ago and I loved looking at ALL the furniture that is way out of my budget but still so pretty!! A lot of the items were not my style.. but I did really like this pillow and these art prints and this chair and this bookshelf.

FOUR || I really want to change up… something… about my bedding situation, but I don’t want to spend a ton of money on new pillows or a new duvet cover. I might have to try making some pillow shams, instead!

FIVE || I found this randomly on Pinterest and it made me die laughing.

I hope you all have a great weekend! I have a friend’s baby shower to go to tomorrow and I can’t wait to see all the fun tiny gifts she gets for her baby girl!!

Recent Reads

Celebrity memoirs/essays are seriously the best! I love reading them and think it’s even better when the author reads it themselves. It’s just so much fun to hear it in their own voice and with their own inflection, and you can just imagine them saying the words to you like you were having a conversation. And that’s exactly how I felt when I listened to Ellie Kemper read her book, My Squirrel Days.

I loved hearing stories about her growing up in St. Louis, especially since I grew up in that area, too! I loved hearing stories about her planning her wedding. I loved hearing stories about getting her start in the comedy community. But most of all, I loved hearing stories about her time on The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt! She talked about having to wear those hot pink pants ALL THE TIME and I was cracking up. This book is definitely more of a “make you laugh” rather than a “tell you all the down and dirty true details” but if you’re looking for a light-hearted easy read, this would be an excellent choice!

The other book I finished recently is a suuuuuuuuuuuper short one, but I really enjoyed it! I had been meaning to read The Lipstick Gospel by Stephanie May Wilson for YEARS but just never got around to it. (You can actually get a free copy of this short book on her website!) I don’t remember how I heard about Stephanie for the first time, but she was a cute and well-spoken Christian who seemed right around my age, so I signed up for her emails at some point in time and really enjoyed everything I saw from her. Then I found out that she was starting a podcast called Girls Night where she talks with friends about faith, relationships, friendship, and life in general and I started listening and I LOVE it! It might even be my favorite podcast at the moment… she just has such good things to say and it seems like I’m texting a quote from just about every single episode to a friend to share the wisdom!

But enough about all that – I’m here to talk about her book! It is written in a very conversational way, which is not everybody’s favorite style, but I really enjoyed it. I’m used to hearing her talk, so this was a very comfortable cadence to read for me. She talks about how God was the furthest thing from her mind for a very long time, the things she was going through in college, and the semester abroad that changed her whole view of God and faith. She could have ended the book right there, but she went on to show how she struggled as a new believer, how she grew in her faith, and how her life was beginning to change. It was just a really sweet story and it made me love Stephanie even more!

My Julep Favorites – Nails and Skincare and Makeup, Oh My!

I don’t actually remember how I first heard about the beauty brand, Julep, but I do know that it was back in 2012. 2012!!! That was so long ago! And yes, I only knew that because I looked on the website to see when I placed my first order and it said 2012!! Once I learned what Julep was and gave them a chance, I feel like my life was changed. I got hooked and I gave them all of my allegiance, which has only grown and grown over the years.

They started out focusing on nail polish and they did (and still do!) it so well. The colors are so rich and they glide on without any issues, and now this is pretty much the only nail polish brand I use. And then. And then!!! And then they started adding more items to their arsenal and I have loved every single one I’ve tried (except for one…). I love them so much, that I looked around my bathroom and realized that the majority of my beauty routine is done using only Julep products!

Since I’ve tried a ton of their product line, I thought I would share the ones I love the very best and HIGHLY recommend you try, too!

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First up, obviously, is nail polish. I just love the way that the color glides onto your nails. It’s a thicker polish, so you can get away with just one coat most of the time, and they have an almost unlimited choice of colors and glitters and shines to choose from. But the thing I SWEAR BY is on the far right in my image – the Freedom Polymer Top Coat. This stuff is AMAZING. I know I’ve shared it before once or twice, but everyone needs this in their life. It dries your nails in 5 minutes (like touch your nails go on with your life dry) and it makes your nails SO SMOOTH! It feels like you got a gel manicure, and this top coat makes my nail polish last way longer than any other top coat I’ve ever used.

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When Julep started adding skincare, I didn’t really care. I already had my “favorite” items and didn’t really need to try anything else. But then I got their love your bare face cleansing oil. And then I tried their night shift sleeping mask. And then I got the what your skin needs facial milk. And then I was hooked. But by far, the BEST thing that they have (in my opinion), and the ONE THING YOU SHOULD TRY if you were only going to try one thing, is the Triple Quench face mask system. It ROCKS. Something about the three steps working together does such wonders for my skin, it’s almost unbelievable. The next day my skin is SO soft and smooth and looks so amazing, people have stopped to ask what I did differently to make my skin look so good. Seriously, you need to try it!

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Once I started trying the Julep makeup line, I was SO impressed with just about everything… except the mascara that I tried. But I’m very particular about my mascara. But anyway. Everything else has been absolutely wonderful to use and I can’t recommend it enough. Especially the eyeliners. The gel and liquid are both great, and I love that the gel pencil liner comes in SO many shades. The one I’m using right now is a very dark purple and you can’t really tell but it makes me feel a little more fun. The eye shadow is perfect and applies so well.  But if I had to choose just ONE thing to recommend you to try, it would without a doubt be the It’s Whipped Matte Lip Mousse. It goes on so smooth and dries into a nice matte finish that lasts all day. Seriously, all day. I eat and drink and this stuff doesn’t go anywhere. It’s amazing.

Now that I’ve shared my absolute favorites from Julep, I wanted to share a little hack with you, too… I don’t pay full price for any of these items. Nope – I sure don’t! Spend $20 on lip gloss? Nope. $12 for a face mask? Are you kidding? Nope. $14 for nail polish?!?! What?!?! So what do I do to get these great items at a discount? I joined their membership program, Julep Maven! There are a lot of things I love about it.

It’s only $20 a month and you get three items, which makes the price of each item very reasonable. 

You can customize your box each month, so you aren’t stuck with a nail polish color you’d never wear or a shade of blush that would look terrible on you.

There is NO PENALTY if you skip a box for that month! They don’t care, and it doesn’t remove you from the program! (I probably only get 2-3 boxes a year, if I’m being honest.)

You earn points with each monthly box you get, and you can use those points to get additional items or even a free box!

So because I get the subscription box, I make sure that I’m getting my favorite things, or new things I want to try, at a much cheaper price. It’s the best way to do it!