How to Plan the Ultimate Road Trip Using Google My Maps

Planning a long road trip doesn’t have to be a complicated task. Using Google’s map tool on desktop will make planning your next adventure a breeze in 5 simple steps!

Before we go any further – you will need a Gmail account to create and save your map. If you do not have an account already, sign up here. This is not a project to complete from your phone, we recommend using a laptop or desktop computer.

Step 1:

On your computer, visit Google My Maps and select “Create a New Map” which you’ll find in the upper left corner.

Step 2:

Name your map (“Untitled map”) and change “Untitled layer” to “Part 1” – for longer, more detailed road trips you may need to break your layers into days or just trip segments. For our example, we are using just one layer.

Select the “add marker” pin icon (you’ll see it highlighted black in the screenshot below). Use the search bar to enter your starting location. For this example, we are using Chicago.

Where the location information box appears, select “+ Add to map”. You’ll see a paint bucket appear in the same box. Select that and pick a color to be used as your “home base” color.

Step 3:

At this point, begin adding as many markers (or pins) for the sights you know you want to see. We recommend using a different color for every category of stop. This can broken into as specific categories as you’d like. For this example where using the following categories and colors.

  • National Parks: Green
  • Main Cities: Purple
  • Excursions: Blue

Note: You can use the search bar to find the exact location to drop the pin!

Step 4:

From here, you will want to start connecting the driving routes between each marker. Click on your starting location marker (reminder, in our example, this is Chicago). Select “draw a line” (highlighted below) and choose “select driving route”. This will create a new “driving” layer. Our first drive can be seen below.

Within the driving layer, select “Add Destination” and then click the next marker on your map. Continue adding destinations and creating the driving line paths from point to point until you reach your end point or circle back to your starting location. A completed may with driving routes should look something like the example below:

You have now successfully created the base of your map! Continue reading to learn how to add additional stops and attractions on your route.

Step 5:

Let’s say you begin booking AirBnBs or finding delicious restaurants you want to try on the route. Customizing your driving route even further is easy to do!

For our example, we’re going to add a pit stop in Sequoia National Park (one of our favorite places!). You will need to return to your “Part 1” layer to add a new marker for the added stop.

From here, select a portion of the driving route closest to your added destination and drag the route until it reaches your new stop. We’ve outlined this edited route in the example below:

Using Your Completed Map

If you have Google Maps on your phone, you can now open your map from your cell. Go to the “Google Maps” app (make sure you’re logged into the same Gmail profile!) and select “Saved” from the footer bar. Here you can view your map and receiving step-by-step driving directions for each destination. You can also receive driving directions from your desktop map by clicking the three dots next to your directions layer title and selecting “Step-by-step directions”.

These maps can get very detailed! Here is a sneak peak of our van route:

We can’t wait to see the road trips you create! Let us know if you find any additional tips or tricks as you plan your next road trip using Google My Maps.