Traveling to a new city can be exhilarating, but coordinating the logistics can be a pain if you're not prepared. Bustling airports, unfamiliar roads, and winding laneways can make the easiest navigation tasks so much harder than they have to be—that is, if you're not using one common app to its full potential. As it turns out, Google Maps does so much more than direct you from point A to point B—it has a ton of lesser-known features that travel insiders rely on.
Can't find the restrooms in an airport terminal? Google Maps can show you a detailed layout. Searching for hotels in a specific area? You can find accommodation on the map and book in-app. Forgot to turn on international roaming? Download your map and itinerary so you can access it offline, too. Stress less: Here are six little-known ways to use Google Maps next time you travel.
Navigate the Airport
It doesn't matter if it's foreign or domestic: Airports can be a nightmare to navigate. You don't have to flag down airport staff for directions to the restrooms or recommendations for the best places to eat. Google Maps offers a detailed layout of major airports, showing duty-free stores, cafés, escalators, gates, and more.
Create an Itinerary
Gone are the days of jotting down your friend's travel recommendations on stray pieces of paper or scattered in the Notes section of your phone. Bypass that step and enter them directly into Google Maps. Just search for the exact location, and select "save" from the drop-down menu. Then choose between three categories—favorites, "want to go," and starred places—or create your own. When you arrive at the destination, you'll be able to see all the recommendations on the map and decide how best to navigate them.
Traveling to a place with poor Wi-Fi? Don't stress about racking up a huge roaming bill. Before you go, download a region of the map to access it offline. You'll still be able to search for places, get directions, and access turn-by-turn navigation without reception.
Save Your Parking Location
Few things are more frustrating than aimlessly wandering a parking lot to find your car. Save time by marking the location of your car next time you park. On iOS, simply open maps and tap on the blue dot. Then select "set as a parking location." You can add a note like "level 4, spot 12," send the location to friends, and enter the amount of time left before the meter expires to get a reminder.
Search Hotels by Location
Google Flights has revolutionized the way we search for the best flight deals, and now the digital giant is streamlining hotel bookings, too. If you'd like to stay in a specific neighborhood, simply type "hotels" into the search bar in Google Maps for local listings. You'll be able to see pictures of the hotel, reviews, amenities, and even do a price comparison and book.
Find the Nearest Rest Stop on a Road Trip
You don't have to plan every aspect of your road trip before you leave home. Search for spots like rest stops, gas stations, and key attractions, while you drive for real-time location-specific tips.