Everyone who takes my advice and does this comes back a year later and says it’s the best idea ever.
I simply use Google Maps to save destinations, but I want to take a minute to explain why Google Maps is THE place to save travel destinations.
The biggest benefit, for me, is that I use Google Maps so often when planning a trip already. Now, after years of saving destinations in Google Maps, I have so many places saved that when I start planning a trip I notice all my saved places along the way.
But I’ll explain how it works, why you need to save in Maps too, and how to find destinations to save.
How It Works
Simply search for a destination on Google Maps (on your phone or computer) and you’ll have the option to save it.
Recently, Google Maps started rolling out the ability to save different ways on all devices :
- Want to go
- Starred places
In the past, there was only the option to star places (which is why in my Google Maps every country has a ton of stars), but now there is a “Want to go” option.
My plan is to start using “Want to go” for places I want to go, so I can use the “Starred places” for spots I need to save for future reference – like an Airbnb or Hotel.
What my map looks like now:
I’ve been wanting to do a southern Italy trip, but know little of where to go, especially in Sicily. But already my southern Italy map has enough places to visit that the trip is basically planned for me.
Another way to find saved places:
If you click the menu bar in the top left of Google Maps, you can click “Your places”.
Then you can click on saved. You can even then select which kind of saved place (“Starred” vs “Want to travel”).
Because I don’t need a list, the only way this would be useful to me is if I wanted to see a map of only “Want to travel” or “Starred” and not the other.
The other reason, is because I noticed that sometimes a place saved, especially a “Want to travel” saved place, might not show up on your map until you zoom in. This selection makes sure they are visible.
But so far, I’ve never need to use this feature.
Why You NEED To Save Destinations
For example, on our last trip to Switzerland, I found a nice hotel on Roomer in Interlaken (a suite for $50 a night!), and booked 6 nights on a whim.
Part of the reason I went for it is because when I looked at Google Maps, I already had a bunch of destinations saved very close to Interlaken. It was a no brainer.
One of the things was a video I saw of this Alpine Slide. I saw the video (maybe on reddit) a while ago and forgot about it, but at the time it looked amazing enough that I looked it up, saw it was only $5 for a ride, and saved it.
A year+ later I’m in Switzerland and look at my map, remember the slide and make the drive out to visit it (we also did it as part of a longer hike). It was amazing.
In all, we had an amazing trip, where every day was full of hikes and adventures, and I didn’t do a minute of planning, just years of a click here and there to save destinations in Google Maps.
The point is that you start to see things accumulating in certain areas.
Trips plan themselves for you with this method.
How To Find Destinations
Tip: Take a minute to research a place, and don’t just save places from a single pic.
The goal is to have quality destinations saved, so a quality trip is planned for you.
I follow a few things on Facebook, or I follow the reddit /r/travel – unfortunately, 90% of the posts are the same super well-known destinations, but I scroll for places I’ve never heard of.
It doesn’t matter where I see or hear of a great destination, I look it up and save it. But most often it’s from seeing a random photo.
Next: Google it
It doesn’t matter what travel blogs and mediums you follow, my next step is always to Google search the destination. I’ll open another tab for google images and see if the cool photo was a good shot or indicative of the destination. Maybe I’ll look up a little bit more about the destination…
But I usually spend less than a minute just verifying the destination.
Ways I personally find new destinations:
- Facebook groups
- Blogs – like RapidTravelChai
- Google’s search results will often have “Things To Do” and “People also search for”
I’m sure there are way better ways of finding places (if you have tips, comment!), but this is how I tend to find places I save.
Google’s “People also search for”
I did this recently where I searched for “Sumidero Canyon” (in Mexico), and down on the right it had “People also search for”.
I clicked the “View 15+ more” and the list was surprisingly full of great looking places, many I’ve never heard of before.
Google Maps is THE way to save destinations, because 1) I’m already looking at Google Maps when planning a trip, and 2) viewing on a map is a much better process for planning a trip than a list.
But if you have any other Google Maps saved destination tips, let me know.
Or, if you have tips of where to hear of cool destinations to save, let me know.