How Google Maps Help You to be Local Travel Guide
I am just back from participating in a road-trip cum experiential activity conducted by Google India team. Sanket Gupta, programme manager of Google Maps India headed this team of journalists and bloggers. Prior to this my Google Maps usage was limited to finding shortest route or traffic scene in real time and sometimes to explore tourist spots. But this trip with Google team enabled me to understand other features of Google Maps app that help make travel smooth and fun.
Top 8 Tips to Enhance Google Maps usage
Before I explain further how the trip to Mysore from Bangalore was done with Google Maps here is a short explanation on top 8 tips to enhance Google Maps usage:
1. Multi waypoint directions
With this feature you fix your location, final destination and then add couple of places to halt. It is easy to plan the itinerary now.
Open the apps, tap the corner menu, click ‘add stop’. You can add several stops in this manner. To rearrange the order of stops you need to drag them up and down.
2. Search along route
You can search along the way for fuel, restaurants, grocery stores and cafes. The icons pop up along the route and you can reroute the path to follow.
3. Live Traffic & Traffic Alerts
This needs no introduction, particularly for Bangalore commuters who are always caught in a jam. You can find with this feature what the traffic will be along the route. This will help you to avoid spots with possible traffic jams.
4. Offline Maps
Many a time your travels take you remote places where there is no connectivity. This offline maps feature is of great help then. You can plan ahead and download the map of the route. Offline maps work even in no connectivity situation so it is available for use later.
5. Add a pit stop with Search along Route
This feature helps to determine which stop would be closer. You may have crossed a fuel station and the next one is quite a distance away, Google maps help you decide how long a stop will add to the trip while keeping you on your route.
6. Hire a cab
This feature in Google Maps apps helps to compare all commuting options in a city. There is a dedicated tab in the apps that gives information for cab services; this is in addition to existing driving, public transport, and walking options. Commuting in a new big city gets easier with this.
For example in Bangalore the apps will enable to choose from Ola or Uber cab services. From the providers’ apps you will be able to see fare estimates, pick up times and whether a car is available nearby.
7. Find and Share Hidden Gems with ‘sharing location and photos’
This feature in the apps enables you to explore, review and share experiences of places.
- You can get information like opening hours, price and peak hours of restaurants.
- You can also call up and visit their websites.
- See reviews of the place by others and also contribute reviews.
- Sharing with friends from Google maps apps through email, sms and even through whatsapp is possible.
8. Share your local expertise
You can become a local guide if you are an expert of your area. Keep adding reviews, contribute pictures and add new destinations.
How to sign up as local guide in Google Maps? Sign up directly from within Google maps app. You can unlock great benefits such as Google Drive 100 GB storage for 1 year and exclusive invitation to events.
How Google Maps Help You to be Local Guide
Here is my experience of road trip to Mysore with Google Maps Apps.
The start point was ITC Gardenia Bangalore, final destination Raddison BLU, Mysore. Our plan was to take a leisurely drive. Normally a trip to Mysore, a distance of 157kms without halts will take approximately 3hours 40minutes. We added some halts to the road trip to Mysore.
A – Panchamukha Ganesha Temple (sight seeing)
B – Rasta Café for lunch (restaurant)
C – Halt for tea/snacks at Empire near Srirangapatna (restaurant)
So the redesigned map looked like this. The drive time had increased to 4hours 24minutes.
At the first halt at Panchamukha Ganesha Temple we paused for around 10 minutes and took several photographs. We did the first exercise of adding picture and review of the place to Google Maps. Similarly at Rasta Café, where we halted for lunch, all of us added pictures and review of the restaurant in Google Maps.
Add New Place to Google Maps
Next activity was to add a place to Google Maps. (This is important) We selected a modest souvenir shop on the way, a Chennapatna Toy shop. Since this was not a recognised place yet in Google Maps we contributed this place to the map. For contributing – Add name of the shop (Kaveri Handicrafts Emporium), address (nearby landmark), category (toy shop) time of functioning, phone numbers.
You can add travel and tourist related info in this manner. (Take care not to add defence related confidential info or defence strategic landmarks.) This will help small time businesses too to get recognized and you will be contributing to responsible tourism. After you add the place Google verifies it. So it will take some time before the place gets marked on Google Maps. Subsequently you will get a notification or mail from Google stating “your suggestion… has been added to map”.
After a halt at Empire Restaurant near Srirangapatna we reached our final destination Radisson BLU, MYsuru.
By the end of this trip I had 7 points in my kitty of “Your Contributions”. I had got promoted from Local Guide Level 1 to Local Guide Level 2.