Whether you are in a new city finding your way around or an old favorite looking for something new, Google’s mapping services can help immensely. The days of walking around with a fold-out map are giving way to GPS-aided maps on phones, and more people are researching their trips online before they even leave home. Here are a few tricks for both Google Earth and Google Maps that will help you enjoy your travels!
– Google Earth
Research places to see before you go. Google Earth doesn’t just show you where the museum is, but also displays pictures, videos, websites, reviews and phone numbers all relating to your place of interest.
See the sights in 3D. One of the great advantages of Google Earth is that they allow others to render buildings and terrain in 3D. See the Grand Canyon, the White House, or all of New York City rendered in 3D and get a glimpse of the scenery before you arrive.
See public transportation stops. If you’re visiting a city and plan on using the public transportation to get around, this feature is priceless. See all of the stops near your hotel or see what lines stop near that monument.
Browse pictures. The rise of photos tagged with the location they were taken at has allowed you to see almost an endless amount of pictures taken all around the world. Above, all of those blue squares are different photos taken in a few blocks of Mexico city. Below that, a closer look at a Tokyo fish market.
– Google Maps
If you have Google Maps on your phone, a good idea is to take a screenshot of your hotel location. This came in handy when my son went to Spain alone. If he got lost and could not find a wi-fi spot, he always had a picture of a map to show him exactly where his hostel was. Like above, try to get major cross streets, public transportation spots, and major landmarks all in one shot and you will always find your way back.
Don’t forget that Google Maps has walking and bicycle directions, as well. They may be safer or faster than your regular driving directions. Just remember that they are in beta and always trust your better judgement if you feel they are unsafe.
Just like Google Earth, Maps can give you more information about particular hot spots. See pictures and get a link to Wikipedia pages of interesting landmarks and attractions.
Just in case you’d like to gunk up your arteries with a Fried Mars Bar, do a Google Maps search on ‘fried mars bar Aberdeen Scotland’ and you’ll find The Carron … the site of my sinning when I visited Stonehaven, Scotland. It’s amazing how Google Street View shows the building so clearly!