BECOME A GOOGLE MAPS OFFLINE GURU
Did you know that you can use Google Maps offline when you travel?
Read our guide and you'll never get lost on the road again
Words: Aleksandra Georgieva
Photography: Taylor Brandon
17 October 2020
Most European countries offer pretty good deals on roaming and using your data overseas without additional costs. However, destinations further away make online navigation a bit more challenging. Embarking on a trip to a destination you haven’t explored yet is exciting and fun but in all honesty old-school maps and atlases have us completely lost. Navigation apps are easy to use these days but we’re not much of technological gurus and don’t always have the easiest time with gadgets.
On the plus side, keeping your phone on airplane mode and using only wifi will save you from the overcharges of non-essential calls from abroad. You will have a great time actually being present at the destination of your trip without having to stay glued to your phone. But if you don’t know your way around, navigation might be a saving grace. So how can you map your way around offline?
If you have tech difficulties, you travel to outside-of-roaming destinations, or your data just wouldn’t work, we have got you covered. You can actually navigate an area without using your data like a pro. Here is how you can easily use Google Maps offline.
A GUIDE TO DOWNLOADING GOOGLE MAPS
You can easily download and store Google Maps offline on your phone. The only important aspect to remember is that you must only download via wifi and that the app will take a bit of space on your phone depending on the area – usually no more than 100 mbs. We recommend you download the map before your travels so you have it stored, locked and ready to use. Note that once you download it, the map will be stored on your device for about a month.
Open Google Maps ad find the destination you need (e.i. London, California, Barcelona). Once the destination shows up on the screen, remove it from the search bar by hitting the X. Write ‘ok maps’ in the search bar and press return.
Your screen will change to the map of the area. Above the map, there will be a blue box allowing you to ‘Download a map of this area?’. Underneath there will also be an indication of how much space the map will take on your phone (for example 50 MB).
The map on your screen will appear in a highlighted box. You can zoom in or out of that box to choose how large or small you need the area you download to be. In turn, this will increase/decrease the storage space required on your phone.
When you are ready, hit download, and the map will be stored on your device for about a month. You will be able to access it as a normal Google Map from your Downloads with or without using your data.
OFFLINE GOOGLE MAP LIMITATIONS
As helpful as this offline feature is, the Google Map sans internet access does have a few limitations. The main disadvantage is that you cannot get walking directions. However, it is not too complicated to use your common sense in getting from A to B.
To help you is the option to use your GPS/location as normal – you can find your exact location and follow the blue dot to head in the right direction just like you would do online. While you may not be able to search for absolutely every place in the area, you will have no trouble mapping most locations.
You can also get driving directions with estimates of driving time and even voice navigation instructions. This will come handy for a road trip, but you will not be able to get the live traffic congestion information.
Luckily, offline you can also find essentials such as ATMs, restaurants and petrol stations as well.
What we recommend is to use the Google Maps offline star feature. It allows travellers to save addresses and places which you can add – as stars – when you plan your trip online in advance or when you add them later on in the offline mode. Stars can map anything from a destination, to hotels and restaurants. The star feature also appears in both the online and offline mode of the Google Maps app.