Sometimes I wonder why I did it back in the age before smart phones. I remember how I would book a hostel in advance, and then look up on Google Maps the route from the bus/ train station to my hostel and write all the steps down on a piece of paper. I remember just how stressful it was when I forgot to do this.
These days all you need is a phone and a wifi or data connection to find your exact position immediately on Google Maps. You can plot routes, you can look up nearby attractions and you can even see photos of places you have yet to discover. But there is one thing that you need to use Google maps, and it’s the one thing you often don’t have when you travel, and that thing is a good internet connection or data connection.
We always bring our phones with us when we travel, but we hardly ever buy a local sim card unless we are sure we will need it. So we needed to find a map alternative that would work solely with our phones GPS (which does not require a data connection).
Introducing Maps with Me
Maps with me (now known as MAPS.ME) is on offline maps platform which works with both iPhone and Andriod. We downloaded it before we went on our trip to New Caledonia in 2013 and have been using it ever since.
The app is completely free. There used to be a $4.99 pro version, which we had, but recently the app has been made completely free – which is good news for you guys!
Below we will tell you all our favourite Maps.Me features, and why we even prefer this map to Google maps at times!
No need for a data/ internet connection
The number one best thing about Maps.Me is that you do not require a data or internet connection. The maps are 100% offline. Once you download the app you can then choose to download maps for any country in the world. You will need to download the maps you want while you do have a data or internet connection though, so plan ahead. There is no limit to how many maps you download, so I would just recommend downloading all that you will potentially need on your next trip before you go, just in case you get caught out with a dodgy internet connection while on the road.
Routing is now available
With the older version of Maps.Me there was no routing feature. The app tracked your movements with the GPS, but you would need to navigate yourself from point to point. This was still great, as no paper map can instantly tell you your current location, but I would still opt for Google Maps when I did have a data connection. However, in the new version of Maps.Me you can choose to download either the standard map, or the map plus routing. This will allow you to plot routes with the map, all while entirely offline.
More than just a map
Maps.Me is more than just an offline maps. It also have stored in it’s maps major tourist attractions, landmarks, hotels, restaurants and bars. Most times, we could simply search the name of our hotel, while offline, and it would be able to direct us on the app. However, not all hotels and restaurants are listed, it’s mostly just the more established ones.
Plan your trip with dropped pins
I’m an organizational freak. I love being organized and one of my hobbies is colour coding things. So dropped pins are right up my alley. While researching a trip you can use the drop a pin feature to set a marker on your map. You can customize the pins to be different colours and you can rename them as well. When I spent a day in the capitol of Brunei, I read through my guidebook over breakfast, and dropped pins on all the places I wanted to visit that day. I was then able to easily plot my own little walking tour.
Not quite familiar with a new city? We always drop a pin on our hotel, so we can easily find our way back with the app when we are finished exploring.
I even use Maps.Me in Melbourne where we live. Melbourne is famous for having great cafes and restaurants hidden in alleys and behind unmarked doors. As I stumble across these places, I pin them on my map so I can easily find my way back later.
One of the best features with dropped pins is that you can drop a pin at your current location, even if there is no landmark or saved location in the actual map. We do this sometimes when we find great photo locations or spots, so that we can remember the GPS coordinates for later.
Don’t get me wrong, I still use Google Maps alot, but for the traveller who doesn’t want to rely on having fast internet or a data connection, Maps.Me is one of the most valuable apps to add to your phone before your next trip.