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Tech tips

Hidden Google Maps features to save you time and money

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It’s getting warmer, and you’re probably itching to hit the road. With gas prices still high, who doesn’t want to save money? And while you’re at it, getting to your destination faster would be nice, wouldn’t it?

Here’s how Google Maps eases your burdens on the open road.

1. Plan ahead and save on gas

The longer you spend in traffic, the more gas you’ll burn. Google Maps helps you plan a future trip, taking in predicted traffic, routes and road conditions along the way.

Here’s how to set a planned time and date for a trip:

  • Open Google Maps and tap on the Search here field.
  • Enter a destination and select it from the results.
  • Tap Directions and then the three dots button to the right of the Your location field.
  • Tap Set depart or arrive time.
  • Select Depart at and enter a date and time, then tap Done.
  • You’ll get various route options and details such as time and distance.
  • Select a route and tap Start.

2. Find cheaper gas

Quickly check gas prices in any area with Google Maps:

  • Open Googe Maps and tap Gas under the search bar.
  • You’ll see nearby gas stations and prices on the map and at the bottom of the screen.
  • Swipe your finger along the map or bottom of the screen to see more.
  • Tap View list to see the gas stations in list form.

3. Find a place to charge your electric vehicle

Use Google Maps to find EV charging stations on the way to your destination, along with estimated wait times for a charging port. You can also filter your search by connector type to find stations compatible with your vehicle. Here’s how to get juiced up:

  • Open Google Maps and scroll through the tabs on the top of the map and tap More.
  • Scroll down to the Services section and select Electric vehicle charging.
  • You’ll get a list of nearby charging stations.
  • Tap a charging station to add it as a stop along your trip.

4. Reserve your seat for dinner

Grab a spot at your favorite restaurant without calling or navigating to its website. Here’s how:

  • Open Google Maps and tap Restaurants at the top of the map to see a list of eateries, or search for the restaurant you want to visit.
  • Select a restaurant and reserve a table or join a waitlist if the option is offered.

5. Avoid the mob

Whether you’re sightseeing or stopping for gas, wouldn’t it be nice to know how crowded an area is before going? Check it out with Google Maps.

Just open the app and navigate to the location on the map until you find where you want to go. Zoom in or out until you see highlighted patches with a “busyness” indicator. It’ll say something like Not busy, Busier than usual or As busy as it gets.

Tapping on the Busy area label will bring up a chart that shows how busy the area is at different times of day, along with a directory of restaurants, shops and recreational places within it.

6. Avoid roaming and data fees

If you know you’re heading into an area with poor signal or long stretches of lonely roads, you can download an area map ahead of time. Think national parks or mountainous regions. Even an overcast sky messes with your GPS.

Luckily, Google Maps can be used offline. Do this before you embark on your journey, and you’ll still get the guidance, even if the service is spotty or nonexistent.

  • Make sure you’re connected to the internet and not in Incognito mode.
  • Open the Google Maps app.
  • Search for your destination, a city or a landmark.
  • Tap the name or address of the place at the bottom of your screen, then tap the three dots.
  • Select Download offline map > Download.

After downloading an area, use the Google Maps app like you normally would.

7. Avoid tolls

Paying small tolls may seem like nothing, but it adds up over time. Plus, some tolls run pretty high, depending on where you live. Fortunately, Google Maps gives the option of avoiding toll roads when requesting driving directions.

After plugging in your destination, tap the three dots at the top of your screen. Select Options and then toggle on Avoid tolls.

Bonus: Send an alert if you’re running late

When you’re running late, take a moment to let family and friends know when you’ll be with them by sharing your route. Here’s how to share your ETA with Google Maps:

  • Open Google Maps and tap Directions, choose your destination, then Start.
  • Swipe up and select Share trip progress.
  • Choose a contact and tap Share. Your location is shared only until you arrive.

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