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!

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