31 Google Maps tips for smooth sailing through the holiday season

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 10:25 AM

With families coming together, the start of the ski season, and weekly shopping trips becoming acceptable, there's a lot to love about the holiday season. What's that? Gridlocked traffic? Fully booked hotels? Can't find the perfect gift? Oh my, the holidays are rough!

To help kick off your season right, we've put together a list of 31 Google Maps tips for life to help you to save time, look smart, and manage your travels efficiently. Start with the tips that are right for you, based on what type of expert you'd like to become: a Local Expert, Ace Navigator, Global Explorer, or Business Owner. You can try a tip a day for a month, or blast through them all at once.

Here are my favorite tips from each section:

Local Expert Tip #3: Just keep searching
It's rare that you leave the house with only one goal in mind. More often you're heading to one place, like a party across town, but you need to pick up your contribution at the grocery store and get gas along the way. In Google Maps, you can see multiple searches layered on the map all at the same time. When you do two or more consecutive searches, you'll notice a blue bar at the bottom of the left panel. Click on it to expand the widget, which allows you to turn on both searches at once.

The markers on the map are color-coded, so you can tell which search is which. This is perfect for helping you pick the most efficient route to accomplish all your goals.

Ace Navigator Tip #4: Check live and predictive traffic information
Traffic patterns are hard to decipher when you're driving out-of-town. For both highways and arterial roads, Google Maps provides live and predictive traffic information for any day of the week and time of the day, based on past conditions and live crowdsourcing. Plan your departure times to avoid traffic jams!

Global Explorer Tip #6: A page for every place
No matter how far from home your travels take you, with Google Maps on your side you can become an expert even in a foreign locale. By clicking on the "More Info" link in a business listing, easily learn more about any place on the map with information ranging from photos to reviews to store hours. A Place Page is like a webpage for every place in the world, organizing all the relevant information about it. Who wants blueberry pancakes in New York? I've never been there, but I'd now recommend Clinton Street Baking Co, which has the "best blueberry pancakes ever!" according to reviews.

Cross your fingers that the economy is recovering, but even so, holiday shoppers are likely to be on the lookout for bargains. Google Insights for Search shows that searches for coupons are still up. By claiming your Google business listing through Local Business Center, you can create coupons that will appear alongside your business listing on Google Maps. Let Google users print your coupons and bring them to your business, or even show your coupons on mobile phones to attract customers on the go.

Enjoy our new tips for life, and next time you find someone lacking in holiday cheer, just share with them one of 31 ways to save time, look smart, and manage their travels more efficiently, like you.