Road tripping has been made so much easier with the advent of smartphones. Gone are the days of asking real people for directions. Gone are the days of finding adventure by not knowing what or where you are going. These days, entire trips can be planned in advance to allay the anxiety of even the most green traveler.
Google Maps is the bread and butter of any travel while one wishes to do on Android. If you really want to plan, you can even make custom maps beforehand on your computer and then use those routes you’ve already created on your mobile device. Just head over to the Google Maps page and create a map.
The most common use for Google Maps is simply point to point destinations. Want to go to Chicago? Enter Chicago as your destination and you’ll be given a route directly there. You will usually be given other routes using different roads, highways and interstates but the default is usually the fastest. If you prefer stopping by a certain landmark or city, then it is better to simply create a destination there and then have Google Maps recalculate the route to your end destination.
Google Maps doesn’t end there. Maps also provides directions for public transportation, walking and biking. Public transportation is very useful for getting around in the city where driving a car and finding parking is more hassle than it’s worth. For example, if you need to get to a bar in downtown Chicago from your hotel miles away using public transportation, Maps will calculate a route that will use your legs (some people call this walking), the Chicago CTA (the light rail system) and buses. It will tell you how long the walk is going to be to your stations and how long your wait is going to be. The first route will probably be your fastest option but if you walk like a sloth, it’ll tailor the schedule to your needs as well.
Maps isn’t just for finding directions, you can also use Places within Maps to find nearby points of interests such as restaurants. A simple search for Italian will yield all restaurants within the distance tolerance you set. Finding directions to your restaurant is a click a way after you’ve spent an hour choosing that special Italian restaurant you’ve finally decided on.
Street View allows you to do just that, view the street. It is helpful for those who are more visual and can only go so far with all these lines on symbols on maps. Find a point of interest and you’ll be able to zoom in and see just what your destination is going to look like.
Sometimes you’ll find yourself driving through the wilds of South Dakota with no cellular signal to be found. Maps solves these by caching your routes. If you have enabled offline caching in Maps, your route will be cached in your phone. Losing reception in the middle of your eight hour drive is not going to get you lost and murdered as long as you calculated the route when you hand a data connection. If you know you are going to be in a certain area with no reception, you can also download offline data for those areas by tapping on the menu and then tapping on Make available offline.