Consider Bringing Paper Maps on a Road Trip

Consider bringing paper maps on a road tripEach Friday, we feature a reader-submitted tip as our Travel Tip of the Day. This week’s tip comes from reader Judy G., who says:

“In rural areas or hilly/mountainous areas or in bad weather with cloudy skies or fog, it is sometimes very difficult/impossible to get a cell signal or Wi-Fi. Having paper maps of one’s route can be a lifesaver—very important for a true ’emergency kit.'”

Though many apps do offer offline modes (like Google Maps), it’s an important clarification to consider with AAA’s tips from yesterday, for example, or my emergency kit tip. And with Google Maps, for example, you have to download the offline map while still connected, so know what you’ll need before you travel. Thanks, Judy!

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Consider Bringing Paper Maps on a Road Trip
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Johnny Jet
I used to be afraid to fly and at times even leave the house! I conquered my fear (long story) and now I travel to 20+ countries a year sharing my firsthand knowledge, tips and deals with friends, family and readers. Please sign up to our free newsletters and tell your friends!

4 Comments on "Consider Bringing Paper Maps on a Road Trip"

  1. I worried about this problem until I got “Here WeGo” map app (free) and downloaded maps for offline use of Spain and Iceland for a trip last year. I never had a problem. I used Waze & Google maps when I had signal and Here WeGo if I lost signal.
    The problems with paper maps aren’t minimal. You have to BUY them; they usually aren’t nearly as up to date, or updateable; paper is susceptible to damage–folding often leaves something important in illegible condition; coffee stains; and more to pack and keep track of; and paper is not zoomable.
    Here WeGo work great on my Android Pixel and I see that it is available for IOS.

    I often wonder how you travel without checked bags when I see all of the things that you recommend to take with you–today it was a change of clothes.

  2. I agree with Tom. Finding paper maps these days is more of a problem than downloading offline maps for your phone. The latter is just part of my trip planning routine these days. I prefer the maps.me app for iOS or Android. You can download all or parts of US states as well as foreign countries or regions. Lots of POIs and street level detail are included on the city maps and all maps are completely offline to use once downloaded.

  3. Paper maps are still free from AA or from tourist information sites. Official state maps are excellent. It is fun for the passenger to follow the route in a way that can’t re done looking at a GPS. Sadly map reading is getting to be a lost art.

  4. I always order the free AAA maps if they are available for a location I am going to or buy a good street map. It helps add to the enjoyment of planning a trip to have it spread out in front of us along with other travel references. When we get to our destination and are driving, even though I use a GPS and a cell phone, there are just some aspects of navigation that work better with an actual map. And when we are in the hotel room at night it can be useful to see our next day’s route. If I know the map will get heavy use, I may get one of the plastcized or laminated maps. I also get one of the pocket pop out maps for when we are walking in a city. It fits in my back pocket and I can check it discreetly in a second rather than fiddling with a phone and draining it’s battery.

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