How to use Google Maps as a trip planner and make a full itinerary

using phone in car
Google Maps has several features that can simplify your trip planning.
  • You can use Google Maps as a trip planner through the "Places" and "My Map" features.
  • Both the Google Maps website and app let you save locations to lists, which you can then get immediate directions to.
  • When getting directions, you can look up reviews and add multiple stops to your route.
  • Visit Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

Google Maps has become an essential part of any road trip. After all, it's a GPS, business directory, and reviews platform all-in-one.

But if you spend some time with it, you can integrate Google Maps even more seamlessly into your next vacation. Google Maps has a variety of features you can use to plan your trip and save any interesting spots you find on the way.

Here's how to make Google Maps your trip planner, using the Places feature, My Map, and more.

How to use Google Maps as a trip planner

Use the 'Places' feature to save points of interest

Let's say you're traveling, and happen to stumble upon the cutest coffee shop you've ever seen. You want to visit, but don't have time right now - what's the best way to remember it?

Google Maps' Places feature can help you out. Both the Google Maps website and app let you save any location on the map to a list, which you can then easily find later.

1. Open Google Maps and click, tap, or search for the location that you want to save.

2. Find the Save icon, which has the icon of a bookmark. You'll find it right under the location's name, but you might need to swipe to find it in the mobile app.

A Google Maps screenshot, showing the info page for the Statue of Liberty. The "Save" option is highlighted.
You'll want to tap the "Save" option.

3. Pick where you want to save the location to. You've got three lists to start with - Favorites, Starred places, and Want to go - but you can make a new one by tapping New list.

The "Save to list" screen in the Google Maps app.
Pick which list you want to add the location to, or make a new one.

4. Once you've saved the location, you can find it again by opening the list. In the mobile app, tap Saved at the bottom of the screen; on the website, click the three stacked lines in the top-left and then Your places.

Tap on a location in your list to have the map jump straight to it.

A Google Maps page titled "Want to go."
You can share your list from this page, too.

Look at Google Reviews to find the best shops

Nearly every point of interest on Google Maps has a section for user reviews. Similar to sites like Yelp, these reviews can be a great way to see which stops are must-sees and which you can pass.

To check out reviews:

1. Open Google Maps and find the location that you're interested in.

2. At the top of its information page should be a star rating and a number, showing how many people have left reviews.

The Google Maps info page for Hard Rock Cafe.
Most businesses have a star rating.

3. Scroll down until you hit the Reviews section, and you'll find reviews from other users who've visited the location. They'll include a star rating, a date, and occasionally a picture.

If you're interested in leaving a review of your own, check out our article on how to write Google reviews.

The Google Reviews for Hard Rock Cafe.
You can sort the reviews by rating, date, and more.

Make a custom My Maps page to share your road trip plan

Only available on a computer (there's no app), Google's My Maps program lets you make a custom map or plot out a route with as many waypoints as you like, and then save and share it with others.

1. Head to the My Maps homepage and click Create a New Map.

The Google My Maps page.
Any map you create will appear on this page.

2. You'll be given a world map. In the menu in the top-left, click the Untitled map name to give your map a name.

3. Use the search bar at the top of the page to find any location, then click Add to map to save it. You can add as many points of interest as you like.

The My Maps page on Google, with the Grand Canyon highlighted.
You'll want to search for a location, and then add it to your current layer.

4. You can also save multiple separate lists of locations to the same map; just click Add layer in the top-left menu.

5. To save directions between multiple locations, click the Add directions icon that looks like a curved arrow. It'll add a new layer that you can use to plot a path.

A Google My Maps page.
Turning on the "Add directions" feature lets you see your route on the map.

6. When you're done, click Share or Preview in the top-left window.

Add multiple stops to one trip

Driving from one city to another is simple. But if you want to make stops along the way - lunch, the beach, a mall - things get complicated.

Luckily, you don't need to start a new Google Maps route for every stop. You can create one navigation route that includes every stop from the start, giving you a clear way to see how long it'll all take.

On mobile

1. Open the Google Maps app and start navigating to another location.

2. On the screen that lets you pick your starting and ending location, tap the three dot icon.

3. Select Add stop.

The navigation feature in the Google Maps iPhone app.
Your Google Maps trips don't need to go from A to B.

4. A third waypoint - labeled "B" - will appear. Tap it to choose your second destination, or drag it to reorder the waypoints.

Two screenshots from the Google Maps app, showing a navigation route with multiple stops.
Once you've put in all the stops you want, Google Maps will start guiding you towards the first waypoint.

On a computer

1. On the Google Maps app website, find a location and start getting directions to it.

2. Underneath the menu that lets you pick your starting and ending location, click Add destination.

The Google Maps website, with a navigation route selected.
The map will update with each stop you add.

3. A new field will appear. Enter your third waypoint.

4. Once you pick a new waypoint, you'll be able to click Add destination again and pick another one, as well as reorder them.

You can add up to nine destinations on both the website and mobile app.

How to find your current location in Google MapsHow to draw a route on Google Maps to create custom directions or plan a tripHow to turn on dark mode in Google Maps on your iPhone or AndroidHow to download maps from Google Maps to get driving directions offline
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