While I have discussed using Google Maps for traveling and how sometimes, it can get glitchy and is not 100% perfect, I know that when it comes to traveling overseas, I find it so important to have.
Especially going to locations like Tokyo. I like to plan out areas I want to visit.
For my upcoming “Tokyo Ward Challenge”, Yanagata is a location that is unlike other areas of Tokyo, it’s literally a place where shrines and Buddhist temples are located almost everywhere and next door for each other. And they also have a very large cemetery.
Because this is one of the few areas where you can walk around a large part of the neighborhood and see a shrine, I decided that I want to visit every shrine within a certain area and make it as part of my latest photography challenge.
First and foremost, how I utilize Google Maps is first I identify locations that people recommend. May it be through TripAdvisor or websites that showcase their top 10, 20 or 25 areas in that location, the first thing I do is put a star in each of those locations.
I look at the area where I’m getting out of the station and then I look at the maps, enlarging them and trying to identify other areas I can visit as I walk around the area. May it be parks, shrines, certain shops or restaurants. I start planning which areas I want to visit. And it can take hours, but at the same time, if you are planning a trip and want to know where you’re going without wasting too much time, it’s could to pre-plan (note: I also don’t mind getting lost and researching things on my own, as I can find fun in exploring new locations as well).
But because I am doing the “Tokyo Ward Challenge”, I have to be much more efficient with my time.
I also recommending putting stars on areas that you plan to visit because I have had issues where I was in Japan, tries to type in Google Maps of my destination and the worse was when I was going to a Sports shop in Shinjuku. It told me to go a mile east. I went a mile east and suddenly Google Maps told me to go back. Nearly two miles west. It glitched out on me, but I suspect that if I had it saved on my Google Maps beforehand, things would have worked out much better and the glitchiness wouldn’t have happened.
Granted, if you are using it inside a subway or train station to find a location, don’t even bother using GoogleMaps. I do recommend using it to find schedules for subways and trainstations, but if you are in Japan, you can also use an app like Hyperdia.
After making a star on each of the locations, I then start to generate a word document with my schedule that will look something like this:
7:36 a.m. from Ikebukuro Station, take the JR Yamanote Line for Ueno/Tokyo (Clockwise) 12 Minutes, 6 Stops to Nippori Station.
*WALK 3 MINUTES TO *GOAL: KYOOJI: Kyooji, 3 Chome-2-6 Nishinippori, Arakawa, Tokyo 116-0013, Japan
*WALK 1 MINUTE TO: *GOAL: Keiunji, 3 Chome-2-14 Nishinippori, Arakawa, Tokyo 116-0013, Japan
*WALK 1 MINUTE TO: *GOAL: Yofukuji, 3 Chome-3-8 Nishinippori, Arakawa, Tokyo 116-0013, Japan
*WALK 3 MINUTES TO: *GOAL: Jokoji, 3 Chome-4-3 Nishinippori, Arakawa, Tokyo 116-0013, Japan
*WALK 1 MINUTE TO: *GOAL: Suwa Shrine, 3 Chome-4-8 Nishinippori, Arakawa, Tokyo 116-0013, Japan
*WALK 1 MINUTE TO: *GOAL: 青雲禅寺, Japan, Tokyo, Arakawa, Nishinippori, 3 Chome
1 MINUTE *GOAL: WALK TO CEMETERY: 西日暮里道灌山霊園管理事務所, Japan, 〒116-0013 Tokyo, Arakawa, Nishinippori, 3 Chome−4−15
And this is just to name a few, as I have pages for Yanagata alone and other areas. But I do print them out and have a backup on DropBox, OneDrive or Google Drive. So, when I go out, I have my pages for that certain day.
I usually rent a pocket wi-fi and pick it up upon arrival at the airport’s post office. I bring that and several backup batteries just in case I need to charge my Wi-Fi or tablet (I bring two small ones and make sure they are fully charged) and I refer to them constantly while I’m traveling and on the road. Making sure I don’t miss a thing.
But I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to pre-plan destinations but also utilizing Google Maps in advance to map things out but also when you are traveling to different locations.