#1. I’m Lost. “Umm excuse me Sir, do you know how I can get to Hardrock Cafe?” I asked the bulky old man with a clean haircut. “Okay my son. What you want to do is take a left and when you see a black building, go right and left again. Keep going straight until you arrive at Oniru Beach and then you’ll see another black building. That is Hardrock Cafe!” He replied.
Six out of ten times I’ve been more confused after asking for directions in Lagos city than anywhere else in Nigeria. So without mincing words, this has to be the number one reason why Google Maps comes in handy for my travels.
It also helps when I forget to write down directions, download offline maps; or when I visit deserted places and locations where English isn’t widely spoken by locals.
#2. I Need To Know Where I’ve Been. Yes, I know. It’s creepy sometimes when you receive an email from Google Maps about your whereabouts. But, I love ’em nonetheless and I’ve hardly ever considered turning off such notifications. Well, unless my email’s hacked or phone’s stolen that is.
Ah! God forbid bad thing.
#3. I’m Going Someplace New. Okay so how is this really different from being lost?
What I’ve noticed when commuting is that even if your directions are one hundred percent accurate, it’s easy to… in Nigerian context, “miss road.”
Let me explain, one time I got invited to Bics Garden in Lekki for a party. I wasn’t too familiar with the location and I couldn’t begin to wait for a friend to go with so, I bought myself a BRT ticket and landed in Marina a few hours later.
From Marina, I took a danfo straight to Lekki and believe me when I tell you that I particularly asked the driver if he knew Bics, his answer? A resounding yes!
Like they say, talk is cheap. While commuting, I checked Google Maps and I noticed that the same driver had just passed my stop. Not this guy! I alighted the bus right there and finished the rest of the journey with eyes glued to my phone the entire time.
Even during road trips, voice navigation can be very helpful in locating places you’re unfamiliar with.
This is another big reason why Google Maps is my friend.
#4. I Need To Find New Attractions To Visit. Ever heard of chronic exposure of touristy attractions? Ha! Don’t bother searching, I made it up.
More often than not, I’m an adventurer looking for destinations travel bloggers haven’t necessarily unravelled. Because, I feel like I shouldn’t write about someplace if they’re a gazillion articles on it already. That is, unless I’ve got new perspective.
Funny enough, I have twenty-nine places tucked away in my Want to go tab as I speak and I’m telling you friend, I’d rather spend a couple hours exploring Google Maps than scavenging the web, looking for listicles.
#5. I’m Hungry. No jokes! I’ve been saved countless times from the dread of hunger by searching for restaurants near me. It also helps that Google Maps sorts restaurants by relevance, distance and pricing.
This way, I’m able to deal with cravings, quench my often-grumbling stomach and give my tastebuds the best taste of sumptuous meals all within a specific budget.
#6. I Need A Site Plan. I studied architecture in school and half the time I worked on projects, I used Google Maps to discover access roads, compass points, vehicular traffic, greenery, boundary lines, drainage channels, buildings and public amenities around my area of interest.
Asides visiting the site, an architect may make better choices when he’s working with satellite imagery, panoramic views or aerial photographs from Google Maps.
#7. I’m Rewarded With Perks And Presents. The first time I received an email from Google Maps asking for my address, I was in awe. Apparently, I’d just clocked Level Three and I was being rewarded with a pair of socks. I know, awesome right?
Again in February of 2020, and I spoke on this in my “travel blogging alternatives” article, I got another email about my nomination for an all-expenses-paid trip to meet fellow Local Guides in California. Wait, whaaattttt?!
If I could pick a word, I’ll say that I felt fantabulous for a couple of days after reading that electronic mail.
Obviously, the trip had to be cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic but such enticing perquisites from Google Maps made me do a little research and here’s what I found out…
Depending on your level, number of points, badging or kind of photos, Local Guides may get/achieve the following.
- A cool pair of Local Guides socks.
- An invitation to attend Google Local Guides Connect Live.
- A free one-year access to Google One.
- Hotel perks.
- Eligibility to attend Google Meetups.
- Entry to exclusive contests for Local Guides.
- Bragging rights.
- Early access to Google products and features.
- redBUS discount coupons.
- Free magazine subscription offers – Allure, Vanity Fair, WIRED, GQ etc.
- Eligibility to be featured on Google’s social media or web channels.
- Free storage on Google Drive.
- Membership in Local Guides World online communities etc.
What makes Google Maps likeable even without these encouraging incentives is whether you choose to rate places, add missing destinations, share photographs and videos, reply to questions or check facts, the web mapping service recognises your contributions and in Google’s words, knows you are helping others make decisions about the things worth doing and the places worth seeing.
Now that I think about it, it’s more like travel blogging made easy. Genius!
Google Maps was launched in February of 2005 and since inception, the application available on both android and iOS devices has amassed an incredible over one billion monthly users!
In 2013, it was rated world’s most popular app for smartphones and with every new feature – street view, trip duration, traffic condition, 3D interaction, Google My Business, route planning, public transportation and Google Earth being added, Google Maps continues to help everyday people navigate and explore towns and cityscapes with peace and tranquillity.
I just had a funny thought – and this is for everyone in the WordPress community. Yes, I know that WordPress organises events from time to time but hmm… what if bloggers got rewarded with similar perks?
Is Google Maps also your friend? Kindly tell me in the comments section.
TRAVEL UPDATE: Learn about the updated Covid-19 protocols for travellers flying into Nigeria here.