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Why we don't rent out navigation systems (plus our Google Maps tips and tricks)

That’s right, when booking a car on our website, you will not find navigation systems in our list of optional equipment. This was done for a reason. The point is that car navigation systems, as standalone devices, are outdated technology in the modern world. In terms of usability and personalisation, they are no match for mobile navigation apps, such as Google Maps, Maps.me or other.

The most popular navigation app today is Google Maps . And we will give you tips and tricks on how to use this app when travelling by car in a new country.

Download maps to use offline

You can use Google Maps both online and offline. The offline mode will come in handy if mobile data is expensive or connection is weak where you are travelling.

How to download an offline map

  

  

  

        

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To use the app offline, you need to download a necessary map area to your smartphone in advance:

  1. Open the Google Maps app .
  2. Make sure you are connected to the Internet and logged in to your Google Account.
  3. Search for your destination.
  4. In the top right, tap your profile picture  Значок аккаунта  Offline maps.​​​​​​​
  

  

  1. Tap SELECT YOUR OWN MAP DOWNLOAD.

You can rename your saved maps for ease of use. This will allow you to quickly find and remove unnecessary map areas if they take up much memory space on your device.

To do this, tap More   Rename.

If you don’t want your offline maps to use up your mobile data, you can choose when to download offline maps. To do this, tap Settings ​​​​​​​.

If you want to download maps only when Wi-Fi is available, select “Over Wi-Fi only” in the Download preferences.

Many cafes and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi. You can ask the staff for the login and password.

How to switch Google Maps to the offline mode

The offline mode with mobile data turned on is currently available only for the Android app. The iOS app uses offline maps if the connection speed is too slow or when the mobile data is turned off on the phone.

To save mobile data and battery life on Android, use “Wi-Fi only” mode. To turn on this mode, tap your profile picture Значок аккаунта  Settings. Then turn on “Wi-Fi only”.

Cons of the offline mode

  • Only car routes are available.
  • No data on traffic jams and road closures.
  • No alternate routes.
  • You cannot view information about a point of interest (opening hours, phone numbers, reviews, etc.).
  • You might not be able to create a route if it passes through an area that has not been downloaded.

So, plan your route beforehand when you have a Wi-Fi connection and save the map area you need for offline use. This will allow you to plan your route again and use directions offline. 

In the Android app, you can use a dedicated pop-up message to save directions. You can also add a route shortcut to your phone's Home screen. 

The best option is to buy a local SIM card — you will get a lot of comfort for only 3-10 euro while travelling.

How to plan a route with multiple stops

  

  

In the Google Maps app, you can plan a route with up to 10 stops: 

  1. On your smartphone, open the Google Maps app .
  2. Search  for your destination.
  3. Tap Directions .
  4. Enter the starting point of your trip in the “Start” field. The app will plan the optimal route.
  5. To add the third and more stops, tap More   Add stop.

If you want to visit more than 10 places, you’ll need to create several routes.

Use lists of places

In Google Maps, you can save your favourite places to your lists. You can make them private, i.e. accessible only to you, and share them with friends using a short link or you can create public lists of places.

It can help a lot in planning your trip. When preparing for a trip, you read blogs, reviews, and travel guides where people mention places you are definitely going to visit. The best way to save such destinations is to create a list of places in Google Maps. To do this, tap “Saved” in the bottom menu of the app.

You can use the system lists ❤ Favourites, ⚑ Want to go, and ⭐ Starred places, or you can create your own lists. For example, “Recommended Restaurants”, “Best Beaches” or “Photo Spots”. The only difference is that system places have special markers on the map, while all points in your own lists will be marked with the same flags.

Then you can save each “discovery” to one of your lists. When saving a place, you can add a note to remember why you saved this place during your trip.

For example, you can save the apartments you booked for your trip to ❤ Favourites. They will be marked with hearts on the map. And if you plan to stay at one place for the entire trip, then save it as 🏚 Home. You can quickly get directions to the hotel from anywhere in the country in two taps: Search 🏚 Home.

You can save all interesting places to ⚑ Want to go, and those you must definitely visit to ⭐ Starred places.

All items of your lists will always be displayed on the map. While travelling, all you need to do when planning your trip for tomorrow is look at the map and find an area with the greatest concentration of markers.

After visiting a place of interest, you can delete its mark. This way, you will only see the places you haven't visited yet, and planning your trip for the next day will always be an easy 10-minute task.

Always check the suggested route

No matter how smart Google's AI is, the Google Maps algorithms sometimes direct tourists to mountains, country roads or closed areas. Thus, we strongly recommend that you always check the route suggested by the app. Often, it does not see the difference between a narrow but popular road and a mountain serpentine. But you can easily see it if you switch the map to the “Satellite” view and zoom in.

Country roads and mountain serpentines have no road markings and very few cars on satellite images. There are no public transport stops, no parking bays or other infrastructure along such roads.

And closed areas can be easily identified by their specific architecture, layout, and large facilities on the ground.

Even if after examining satellite images you are not sure that the app offers you a good route, you can switch to Street View (drop a pin on the road and tap the panoramic view thumbnail).

On the one hand, if the Street View project's cars did not drive on this road and this view is not available for the selected road, it is a sure sign that you do not need to take that road either. On the other hand, if the Street View is available, you can visually assess the road’s quality.

Another reason for wrong directions is state borders. Most unexpected errors in Google Maps happen at border crossings.

For example, the app plots a route from Budva (Montenegro) to Split (Croatia) through the Bijača/Nova Sela border crossing. However, foreigners are not allowed to cross the border there. That’s not an international border crossing.

The correct route should follow the coastline through the Bosnian town of Neum.

Apparently, the app uses incorrect information about border crossings. So, you should always check your route near borders when planning to visit several countries. 

There was a similar issue with ferry crossings, but now Google Maps plots ferry routes correctly. The problem with border crossings is likely to become a thing of the past soon as well.

Find parking near your destination before you start driving

If you are planning to drive to the city centre, chances are you will face the problem of finding a place to park. The best option is to look up parking places before you start driving and plan your route right to the parking lot, not your point of interest.

To find parking near your destination, first locate your destination on the map. Then search for “parking” in the search bar.

The app will offer a list of parking lots sorted by distance from your destination.

It is important to bear in mind that not all parking lots found by this method are available for hourly payment. So, we recommend that you tap each suggestion and check photos and reviews. This will help you make sure the place is right for you.

Free parking lots can be easily found on the satellite images. Just open the map area around your destination and switch to the “Satellite” view. Look for groups of cars in the yards.

The more chaotic the parking is, the more likely it is free.

Save your last parking location

After you reach your destination, you can save your parking location. To do this, tap the blue dot that shows your location and then tap “Save your parking”.

Your parking location will be saved in Google Maps until you remove it. No matter how far you walk away from your parking spot, you will easily find where you left your car.