Travel Tips

How to Use Google Maps & Google Earth to Plan Your Travels

Planning a trip can require a serious amount of legwork and research. When we plan trips sometimes things aren’t as easy to find online as you’d think, especially in countries like Belize.

We’ve found that one of the best free ways to plan trip logistics is by using Google Maps and Google Earth. Yes, Google Maps obviously gives you directions – but there’s so much more it can provide. Google Earth is just as it says – the ability to look at the world from space and see what it actually looks like.

Read on to find out how you can make your trip planning easier using these free Google tools.

Google Maps

You can use this tool to find directions, but also to see how close that “beach-front hotel” is to the beach. Travel ads and websites can be deceiving, and it often takes a lot of reading other travelers’ reviews to find out that the beach is actually a 4-mile walk.

Just search in the top left bar of Google Maps for your location and you’ll see where it is. Sometimes when booking hotels or an Air B&B, you may only get a street name or cross-streets for the location. In this particular instance on Caye Caulker in Belize, we only had an idea of the street name and the color of the hotel itself.

We were worried about lugging our luggage all over an island we’d never visited without any street names or points of contact. We knew our phones wouldn’t work and were worried.

This is what Air B&B Showed Us

We inputted “Avenida Hicaco” into Google Maps and nothing came up. We then searched Google Maps for “Vista Del Mar” and sure enough, the same purple and green house showed up as the “Vista Del Mar” guest house. Viola, we had a location. But how did we know it was the same place since the street name was nowhere in sight?

Enter Google Earth.

Google Maps View

What happens when you type in Vista Del Mar, Belize into Google Earth

How to Use Google Earth

Google Earth helped us figure out exactly where on the island our hotel actually was. The island of Caye Caulker is small but long and skinny. The photo of the Vista Del Mar Guest House was similar to the Air B&B one, so we knew it was the same place.

Google Earth gives you the ability to see the terrain from a birdseye view! Sometimes the satellite images that Google Maps can provide are a little hard to read, so we love using Earth instead.

Now we knew where we were on the island, and could easily navigate to the location. We downloaded offline maps to have them ready and had no issue finding this location.

We Found It!

If you’re curious, here’s what this hotel actually looks like in real life.

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