The stress and chaos of vacation travel happens every year. And when you combine that with the potential for winter storms to cancel or delay your plans, the panic continues to mount. So if you’re planning to catch a flight or spend a few hours on the road, you can use Google Maps to help you navigate to take some of the stress out of traveling.
While Google Maps can’t prevent a winter storm, there are a variety of ways it can help make travel easier, from getting around the airport quickly to using the Maps app offline. Check out some of the best app features for vacation travelers below.
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1. Navigate through airports and train stations
If you need to quickly find a store in a large mall or transportation hub, Google Maps has it Directory section for all airports, malls and transit stations. This can help when you’re running around the airport trying to find a place to eat or pick up a last-minute souvenir before catching your flight.
The section will tell you the opening hours of the destination and what floor it is on. You can explore restaurants, shops, lounges and parking lots.
2. See how busy an attraction is
To see how busy a location is, see The Google Maps Occupancy Tool. You can now search for a location, such as a business, to see a chart that shows how crowded it is in real time. But a feature called Area Busyness lets you see when entire areas of the map are jammed with people.
To use the feature, open the Google Maps app on your Android or iPhone (or your computer’s browser) and navigate the map to find a general area, say downtown, a riverside promenade or an old-fashioned nearby town. Occupancy information will now be automatically displayed on the map, so you don’t need to search for a specific location to see how crowded it is. Google Maps might say something like ‘Busy area’ and when you click for more details it might say things like ‘How busy’ or ‘Not too busy’.
However, you can also search for the location you’re looking for and scroll down to see busy times versus off-peak times.
3. Enter your route in Google Maps
Google Maps can map out your vacation travels, but it can also quickly show you your flight, hotel, rental car, and restaurant reservations, saving you the tedious search of your email for check-in times and confirmation numbers.
To see your upcoming bookings, all you have to do is search for ‘my bookings’ in the Google Maps search box to see a list of what you’ve booked. Maps pulls this information from your Gmail emails. You can also select an item to see more about the reservation, including date and location.
4. Make a restaurant reservation
Planning to dine out with a large group for the holidays can be a hassle, especially when you go at a busy time. Google Maps can help you book a lunch or dinner reservation. This is how.
1. In Maps, tap Restaurants button at the top of the map to see a list of places to eat.
2. Choose a restaurant that looks good, and in the pop-up window book a table or join a waiting list if it gives you that option (not all do).
Remember, you can use the busyness feature mentioned above to pick the least busy spot. Also note that some restaurants that are closed for dine-in may still allow delivery, street pick-up, or outdoor seating.
5. Use Google Maps offline
Heading to some remote location where you may not have a mobile network connection? Google Maps can still give you directions when you’re offline.
1.Before you go, search Cards for the location where you will want directions.
2.In the location window, pull down the menu on the bottom.
3.Scroll right through the tabs and tap Download an offline mapand then in the next window tap Download again. Maps will download a map to your phone for the area you selected.
Now, while you’re using Google Maps for directions in the area you’ve downloaded a map for, when you lose your cellular connection, Maps will switch to the offline map to guide you. Note that since you’re offline, Maps won’t be able to offer real-time traffic information.
6. Find EV charging stations everywhere
If you’re taking your electric vehicle out for shopping, dining or vacation, Google Maps can help you find it EV charging stations along your route along with the estimated wait time for a charging port. You can also filter your search by connector type — such as J1772, CCS (Combo 1 or 2) and Tesla — to see only the stations that are compatible with your EV. Note that you can also search for gas stations by following the same directions. (Here’s how you can save money at the pump.)
1. In Maps, scroll through the tabs at the top of the screen and tap | More ▼.
2. Scroll down to the Services section and select Charging of electric vehicles.
3. Maps will show nearby charging stations and how many are available.
4. Tap a charging station on the map so Maps can add it as a stop on your trip.
You can also use this trick to search for other places along your route, such as a coffee shop.
7. Share your location with others
Is there anything more frustrating during a group activity than when the group splits up and no one can be found? Google Maps can help you get back together.
1.In Google Maps, tap your profile icon in the upper right corner and tap Location sharing.
2. Touch location sharing, and choose who you want to share your location with and for how long you want to share it.
3.Touch Divisionand Google Maps will send your location to everyone you’ve selected.
4. If you want to see someone else’s location, tap that person’s icon at the top of the window, then tap Request.
Read more: A new update to Google Maps’ immersive view is coming soon. Here’s the latest