Sometimes it can be difficult to give directions to somebody that is unfamiliar with an area. You can just give them the address and they can plug it into their GPS or Google/Bing Maps and let those tools determine the best route for them. Sometimes, however, those maps might not tell the story. The road coming from one direction could be under construction whereas the other way is perfectly clear. Any number of things like that pop up temporarily and aren’t reflected on map tools. If you’re sharing the directions by e-mail or on a website, Google Maps – My Maps is a great way to convey that information.
The Google My Maps tab hides behind the default and more frequently used Get Directions tab on the Google Maps site. The maps can also work great for events as well, not just routes. Using Google My Maps, you could annotate an area in an easy way to convey a lot of information. For example, you could indicate where to park, how to enter, and other important locations like restrooms.
You can draw shapes, routes, and routes along roads. Once they’re completed, you can label them and add a description. The description can be plain text, rich formatted text, or HTML. You can also customize the color, transparency, and border color. These also look and work great on the Google Maps app for smartphones. Use a QR Code to link to the map and you have a mobile-friendly guide easily available.
For an example, I’ve created a quick My Map of the USA as seen near the end of the TV Show Jericho.
In addition to drawing shapes, you can also insert waypoints. You can use these to indicate a specific location or landmark and also add a title and description to them. You can choose an icon from one of the few dozen default icons Google provides to describe the location. A few others found the default icons to be a little limiting. Google allows you to use additional icons beyond the ones they provide and a Google Code project has surfaced to meet those needs. The Google Maps Icons collection provides over 1000 additional icons that you can use on your Google Maps at no cost and no need to host the icons yourself.
You can then send a link to the map or embed it in a website for an interactive guide.
This might be a little easier than giving directions over the phone while still providing a recommendation a GPS unit wouldn’t know about.