When traveling, what do you miss most about not being able to use your phone?
That's an unfair question.
I know that many people rejoice over their phone being out of commission and that it's a really wonderful thing to be able to shut it off and to not receive all those notifications all. day. long. I love this too. What I don't love is not being able to use my phone as the tool that I so often rely on, most especially, not being able to use Google Maps.
Do you buy a local SIM card upon arrival in a new country? I usually don't unless I'm staying for longer than a month. For shorter stays, I don't generally require more than a daily wifi connection. The one exception would be if I'm renting a car and will be driving a lot. Having a phone always makes me feel more comfortable should we have car trouble along the way. With that said, a basic SIM card will offer me enough minutes to call for help if needed, but not unlimited data to use maps on a daily basis.
Enter: Offline maps.
Offline maps took my husband and I through our entire 2-week honeymoon through Italy. We rented a car for 7 days and didn't pay for a GPS upgrade. We never got lost in the tiny streets of Venice. And we were never late when trying to arrive on time for our restaurant reservations in Rome!
Creating offline maps is super simple. We've outlined the steps below to get you started and we also created a PDF version that you can download and print off for future reference!
STEP 1: Open Google Maps and locate options
Open Google Maps on your mobile device. In the upper-left corner, tap on the three lines to open the map options.
STEP 2: Choose Offline Areas
Choose “Offline Areas”.
STEP 3: Create a custom area
In the top list, you can see offline maps that I’ve previously downloaded for my personal travels. At the bottom, in Yellow, choose “Custom Area” to make a new offline map.
STEP 4: Select the map area to be downloaded
Using your pointer finger and thumb, you can zoom in, zoom out, and drag the map until the area you would like to download is within the lines of the rectangle.
STEP 5: Download your map selection
Once the desired area is within the line of the rectangle, hit “Download” at the bottom of your screen. In order to download the offline area completely, you must be using a WIFI connection and have Google Maps open. The download should progress quickly, please wait until it has completed.
STEP 6: Rename your new map to easily find later
Once your map has finished downloading, you will see it in your list of Offline Areas. It likely has a generic name, like “Area 9”. Click on the new offline area with the generic name, and find the pencil icon in the upper-right corner. Click here and change the name of your map so you can find it easily during your travels. I will name mine “San Francisco”. Click save and you’re ready to travel!
These offline areas will expire after 29 days. We recommend taking these steps no more than 10 days before leaving to ensure you have access to these maps throughout your trip. If you download them earlier, please set a reminder to open Google Maps just prior to your trip to re-download the offline areas that you’ll need.
Would you like to download these steps for easy future reference? Enter your name and email below!
Whitney’s love of experiential travel began when she studied abroad in New Zealand. Upon returning home, this seemingly small decision led her on an unpredictable path to do everything in her power to continue exploring the world. Within one year, she headed to Africa for one month to visit a friend who was volunteering with animals in need of rehabilitation support, and upon graduating only 6 months later, she moved to France for no other reason than the study the language and experience the culture firsthand. Fast forward 8 years, 2 languages, and 20 countries later, Whitney has successfully combined her passion for foreign languages and experiential travel with her professional experiences and launched Undiscovered Sunsets, a bespoke, experiential travel agency.