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How to Plan a Trip With Google Maps and Saved Pins

Everyone has their own method of organizing an itinerary when it comes to travel planning.

In my earlier travel days, travel guides were my go-to. I would highlight places I would like to visit and plan my trip based on their recommendations. I would even type all the names of different places I’d like to visit and input them into an Excel spreadsheet. You’ve got to have an Excel spreadsheet if you want to be organized for your trip!

As much as I like having a colourful spreadsheet with all the information on it, it takes a lot of time to assemble a comprehensive plan.

And these days, I also rely on other sources for my inspiration. Between travel blogs, magazines, Instagram, Pinterest and word-of-mouth from other travellers and friends, it is a bit difficult to organize all the information and make something useful out of it. Chances are, a lot of the information is lost because I wasn’t able to organize the info correctly.

Enters Google Maps and saved pins. I learned this travel hack through a friend, and it has changed how I plan my trip and travel. In this post, I’ll show you how I use the saved pin feature in Google Maps to help me organize my trips.

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Google Maps Pinned Trips

Typically, I use Google Maps on my smartphone as the actual map. Even when it is offline, I can still use it to navigate.

The best part about using Google Maps is that the information is almost always updated and shows you a lot of relevant information about the places you want to visit.

Moreover, it changed how I organized all my information, and I can plan even more efficiently. As a super-organized person, this is one of the best things I learned about Google Maps and saved pins.

Travel map with pins: how you can use this travel hack

This travel hack is excellent for planning small-scale trips (i.e. plan a day’s worth of activities around all the saved pins) and large-scale trips (i.e. plan an entire trip around all the saved pins).

Small-scale travel map with pin

For small-scale planning, this is an excellent way to plan all your activities for the day.

Typically, I would pin places I want to visit and places I want to eat in a particular city. Then I look at the map to determine where all the pins are and group them according to location and proximity to other pins. The grouping of pins is how I decide what I would do for the day. Therefore, I can minimize travel time between places and maximize my actual time to see different sites. I love a travel hack that saves time!

Large-scale travel map with pins

For large-scale planning, this may happen over a period or when you are researching for your next trip.

For example, whenever I come across any travel inspiration or start planning my trip, I save a pin for each of the places I want to see on my Google Maps.

And over time, I accumulate a lot of pins all over the world. And if a particular region or country has a lot of pins, it means there are a lot of things I want to see and do in that place. So perhaps my next travel destination is where all my pins reside.

How to pin on Google Maps

You can use this travel hack on your smartphone and your computer. Chances are you will be doing most of the planning on your computer while you are at home and some planning on your smartphone while you are on the road.

Here is the detailed instruction on how to plan your trip using your smartphone:

1) Open the Google Maps app on your smartphone.

2) Search for a place either by the search feature (at the top) or manually looking through the map and looking for the location.

3) Click on the name of the place (the area where it displays the name) or “more info.” It will show you the location name, and other relevant information.

4) Look for “Save”, click it.

5) Another window will pop up and display “Save in your lists”Select the list you want to save your pin to:

  • Favourites
  • Want to go
  • Starred places
  • Or create a new list

Pinning tips:
*If you use this feature a lot, you might have a lot of the same pins on the same list. I.e. if you pin all the local attractions and restaurants in “want to go,” they will all show up with the same colour pin.
*To differentiate “local attractions” and “restaurants,” you might want to create two lists and name them “local attractions” and “restaurants”. (I started a new list called “eat” in which I save all my pins on that list for all the places I want to eat.)

6) Once your pin is saved in a list, the pin will have a checkmark and displayed as “Saved.”

7)  Also, once your pin is saved in a list, the coloured pin will show on your Google Maps.

8) You can edit your pins and lists at any time. The same goes for deleting pins and lists.

How to research and plan your trip on your computer

If you use your computer to do research, you can pin places in your lists on your computer and view them on your smartphone. Please note that you will have to sign in to your Gmail account on both your computer and smartphone for this feature to work.

The instructions for this travel hack are mostly the same on your computer and your smartphone. Follow the instructions above.

Are you going to plan a trip with Google Maps?

Was this helpful to you? It certainly helped me a lot. Let me know what you think and what other travel planning hacks you have! And happy trip planning!!

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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 20+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

4 Comments

  • Jim
    October 26, 2019 at 10:58 pm

    Try both Sygic and Roadtrippers. Google keeps changing Maps. First you could create personal maps in Google Maps. Now you have to do it in MyMaps. Some of the good features from Maps are not there in MyMaps. Sygic let’s you add all the sights you want to see in a city to one day and then sequences them logically. Now you can takes groups that go well together and move them to specific days. Both Sygic And Roadtrippers have information about the various sights built into the app. Both cost money, but are worth it for planning trips.

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      October 27, 2019 at 10:26 am

      Hi Jim, thank you for your comment. And I just checked out both Sygic and Roadtrippers – they both look awesome! I might have to change up my routine!

      Reply
  • Danielle
    September 22, 2023 at 2:34 pm

    Unfortunately, I am looking for the next step in this adventure….
    I need Google to provide an algorithm for once I’ve saved my pinned places around me that I want to go to, it will plan my route for me from starting point to pin to pin. My immediate example is for a city wide yard sale weekend….#Googlemaps please map out my route from sale to sale that I’ve already pinned on my smartphone to save me time & hopefully gain me an advantage! 🤞

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      September 22, 2023 at 3:44 pm

      Hi Danielle,
      That would be fantastic if Google Maps can do that! With all the new AI stuff around, this surely sounds like it is possible in the future!

      Reply

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