Cover image for tips for using Google maps offline or in airplane mode

Whenever I tell people about these Google Maps functionalities, I’m amazed by how frequently they reply, “Wow, I wish I’d known this all along!” They’re so simple and helpful, and yet so overlooked. Here’s how to get the most out of using Google Maps offline while traveling.

Just Say “No” to Screenshots:
Download the Map to Your Phone

Instead of relying on the screenshots you take before leaving WiFi behind, download the map area you’re traveling in instead and start using Google Maps offline. It’s super easy. Here’s our video explaining how (using an iPhone):

  1. When you’re connected to Wi-Fi, open Google Maps and zoom in/out to the area you wish to save online.
  2. Type “ok maps” in the search bar and click Search.
  3. Confirm the area and download.
  4. When you no longer need the map, click the three horizontal lines on the top left -> Offline maps -> Select the map to delete -> Press delete.

Make Google My Maps Yours:
A Whole New Layer to Google Maps

On many of our posts, we embed Google My Maps (like this one for Medellin, Colombia). They’re awesome for showing readers the exact locations of our favorite points of interest.

What most people don’t know is they can easily save these maps on their devices. That way when they’re using Google Maps offline while traveling, they can still access all the info, seeing it right on the maps on their cell phones.

Here’s our quick video instructions (again, using an iPhone):

  1. Any time you see a Google My Map you’d like to refer to later on your phone, click the little star on the top of the map.
  2. Open Google Maps on your phone and click the three horizontal lines on the top left.
  3. Tap “Your Places.”
  4. In “Your Places” tap “Maps” on the upper right of your screen.
  5. Locate the map you starred and tap it.
    • The map will then open up on your screen and be accessible for offline use
  6. Use your new My Map to enhance your travels, even when using Google Maps offline
    • See what highlights from the map are nearby you.
    • Click on any point of interest for more information.
    • Play around with it. There are many helpful functionalities.

Happy Travels Using Google Maps Offline the Expert Way!

8 comments

  1. Hey there! We tried to do save a map offline then turn off the wifi and data. Unfortunately, the map disappears from the google maps app once we do that. Any suggestions?

    1. Hey Aarthi, thanks for reaching out with your question. If it’s Google offline maps you’re referring to, click the three horizontal lines on the top left corner of Google Maps to open the menu, then select Offline Maps. If you don’t see the map you saved there, a mistake was made saving the map for offline use. Try saving it again.
      If it’s a Google My Map whose locations keep disappearing, here are a couple points that might help: 1) You can only have one “Google My Map” displayed on your Google Maps at at time, so if you look at one then the other, the locations from first one are removed. 2) If you close the app or restart your phone, the map will disappear when you reopen it, so keep Google Maps open as long as you need the offline Google My Map. You can go to other apps. Just don’t shut down Google Maps. 2) The safest bet is to double check the map and the locations are there just before you leave a wifi zone. That way they certain not to disappear until you close the app or restart your phone.
      Hopefully one of these things helps!

  2. Hi Chris! Thanks for the quick reply! It looks like the map will stay on the screen offline as long as I don’t close the app. However, I can’t zoom in or else the pins disappear. I also can’t click on any of the save locations for any information. Do you notice those same limitations? I tried on an iphone and ipad. I wonder if that’s as good as it gets with google my maps offline.

    Next best option I can find is downloading the map data as kml and uploading that to the maps.me app. Unfortunately, any color coding saved in google my maps is gone but all of the data is available offline. If you notice the same problem with google my maps as me, this might be worth checking out!

    1. Hey Aarthi. With Google My Maps even if you’re online if you click any of the pins it won’t show any other information other than whatever the creator of the map input. You don’t see the Google Maps info. I’ve never come across the zooming issue, though.

      Thanks for recommending maps.me. The problem with maps.me is making maps with it only helps those who have the app. Which is better: an imperfect Google Maps map that just about everyone can use easily, or an much better maps.me map that only a fraction of the same people would actually use?

    1. Glad to have helped, Les. Hopefully now that you know how to use Google Maps offline you won’t be getting lost searching around cities for ages like you were searching the web for these tips!

    1. Google Maps. Maps.me is definitely a worthy alternative. I keep both on my phone. Google Maps has better info on businesses and is better for saving locations; Maps.me has better hiking trail info.

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