Meet my dear friend, Google Maps

In The Art of Travel Fall 2017, 3. Getting oriented, Prague by Vivian2 Comments

One thing that Girl Scouts has taught me was the phrase, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”

And so, as a former Girl Scout, I have dutifully done so. Introducing my new friend, Google Maps. The bane of my existence abroad, my saving grace, my loyal companion. (Though such doesn’t discount my long-time friendship with Apple Maps, who seems to have preferred to stay in New York rather than travel to numerous countries like me.)

If you are hopelessly directionless like me, I’m sure you understand what I mean. Without the aid of my trusty navigation application, I find myself somehow heading east instead of west, taking the 7 tram instead of the 17, or even getting lost in streets that I had already ventured through several times before.

Why? Perhaps it’s the fact that I tend to navigate myself using visual cues, or maybe the fact that I tend to zone out while I’m walking and not really regard the specific name or length of the street I’m on. To be honest, that would explain a lot of the problems I’ve been having ever since arriving in Europe. For example, European architecture, though phenomenal and incredibly beautiful, tend to look relatively the same at first glance. As someone who relies on visuals like a big wooden door at the corner of a road or the ice cream stand a block away from school to guide my way, that poses a bit of a problem. Especially when there are quite a few wooden doors on block corners. And ice cream shops every two blocks. In addition, all the names of the streets and subway stops are incredibly confusing and foreign. I learned the first week of school that apparently Malé Náměstí isn’t the same as Náměstí Míru… In fact, they’re totally different parts of Prague. I also learned that apparently, Florenc isn’t the same as Florence… One is a bus station the other’s a different country.

But all in all, I have to admit that my life has been made much easier, thanks to the wonders of technology. Thanks to Google Maps, I don’t need to figure out how to get from point A to point B. Or how long it’ll take to do so. Or how far all the places I want to go are from each other. And best yet? I don’t have to figure out what direction I’m facing.


Long gone are the days of flipping paper maps in random directions trying to figure out if you’re actually facing north, west, east, or south. Goodbye physical maps, hello to the little blue pointer that points you directly towards the path you want to go (though only in terms of transportation, not what exactly you should do in life… technology isn’t that advanced yet).

But wait, the fun isn’t over yet. Below are a few tips and tricks about Google Maps that I’ve figured out recently. If you already know these, sorry for being a bit late to the game.

Tip #1: You can “add stops” or add multiple destinations to your journey. I’ve used this to not only figure out how much time it takes to travel from place to place (super helpful in planning your day, especially if you’re sightseeing) but also to figure what’s close to each other. That way, you can plan your travels much much more efficiently. After all, less time spent navigating and transporting equals more time to have fun! Probably the most useful function I’ve found out about so far.

Tip #2: Without typing in a destination or beginning route, you can zoom out on the map from where you are to see the most popular tourist sites! It’s a super fast way of getting to know what exactly is in the city and where it is. It’s also a great way to start planning your daily travels in a foreign country!

Tip #3: You can read reviews and see pictures of places such as restaurants, bars, cafes (and much more) before you actually go there! For people who don’t like to venture very far when in search of something like breakfast, it’s extremely convenient and handy.

And that’s all for today! Happy traveling, see you all next week!

Using Google Maps, I made it to Hősök tere, or Heroes’ Square in Budapest. I’m 15 feet up, and feeling on top of the world for not being lost for once!


  1. Hi Vivian,
    I really appreciate your positive spin on the use of technology to navigate your way through a foreign city. I feel as if many people see this as not really getting to explore, but as long as your head is up with occasional glances at your screen to make sure you’re headed in the right direction, you can definitely see and learn a lot about a place. I love the tips that you included, as well. I always use Maps to find restaurants/shops/etc. around me, and often end up finding a place I love that I may not have ever actually gone to if I hadn’t been browsing my virtual map. I can definitely relate to the confusion of names on street signs and buildings. I find that I often look for one key word to remember, but then that word is on every sign for a mile! That’s a particular moment where Google Maps can be extremely useful.

  2. Hey Vivian,

    I too wrote about the way in which Google Maps has quickly become my best friend. Without it, I’m afraid I would spend more time freaking out about getting lost than I would planning my trips to different destinations around Europe. While I do my best to not rely entirely on the app, and rely on my instinct and memory, it is at times challenging to do so, especially because the architecture is so similar (although beautiful), and the streets are serpentine! Thus, as much as I try, Google Maps is my #dayone. However, to my surprise, I did not know a few of the cool tricks you have so kindly shared with us! I will definitely use tip #1, because how can we just have one destination in mind when walking the streets of this gorgeous city?

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