Let’s face it: we’ve become dependent on our mobile devices for nearly every task we do these days (it’s not just me, right?). I blog from mine, check and reply to emails, read books, take photos, listen to music, send texts, and so on.

Oh, and sometimes I use it to make calls.

But there’s another useful thing I use my mobile phone: my personal navigation system with Google Maps. When I’m home, stateside, I’ve use of my monthly plan which offers unlimited data; I often use it to navigate my home, the Big Apple, as I still get lost even here.

However, when abroad, especially for those shorter jaunts, I often don’t buy a SIM to get by, and when I do, the data is likely a small fortune to use. Though I may not be able to use the data-dependent features of my phone, I’m actually able to use my GPS functions and Google Maps offline, without incurring any data.

Time needed: 5 minutes.

How to use Google Maps offline:

  1. Load Google Maps on Wifi.

    Before venturing out of your hotel room (or even on your trip), go to your Google Maps application on your smartphone while you’re on wifi.

  2. Find the area you’ll travel offline.

    Go to the area of the map that you’d like to use in the near future, such as the city you’re about to explore. Zoom in and out as necessary to get the entire area you think you’ll cover within the frame.

  3. Type in “Okay Maps.”

    In the search box, type in “Okay Maps” (caps and quotation marks not necessary). For IOS (iPhone, iPad) users, you might need to type in “OK Maps.”

  4. Click “Search” and accept.

    Click the “Search” button or its magnifying glass icon, and voila! After approving the space requirements, the map that you had previously on your screen gets saved to your phone.

  5. Save your data.

    While you’re out, turn off your data connections, and make sure that your phone’s location or GPS is turned on. GPS doesn’t require any data, and it will plot your position on the map that you’ve saved.

This should work for most devices using Google Maps, especially Android and IOS devices. Also, with their latest updates of Google Maps, the app might also allow you to save/cache maps for offline use by going through the settings; just look around the app menu for “Make Available Offline” and the map you had displayed should get cached just the same.

For more travel tips, check out: How to Sleep Well While Traveling, How to Start a Travel Blog, How to Travel Solo, How to Board and Exit a Plane, and How to Prevent an Upset Stomach While Traveling.

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