Google Maps Is the Most Popular Travel App, Here Are Some Cool Ways You Can Use It

The app can help you with so much more than navigation.

I have fond memories of my parents printing out directions before going on road trips. The glove compartment of our light green Dodge Caravan was always packed with directions to Mississippi and beyond. Now, as a millennial who is heavily reliant on apps like Google Maps, I thank all of the technological advances we've had as a society since the early 2000s.

Where would we be without apps like Google Maps? According to a study by Apptopia, many people rely on the app. It was the most-downloaded travel app in 2021, with 106 million downloads. And while you may not think of Google Maps as a travel app, in 2021, the app added several new features to help users do far more than just navigate. Here are some of the best:

Keep up on COVID-19 in your area

Whether you are staying in your neighborhood or heading to another across the country, you can stay in the know with Map's COVID layer. The feature helps users see case numbers in the area, along with quick access to local resources and guidelines or restrictions.

Reserve your spot in line

So many businesses need reservations nowadays. We no longer live in a "just show up" kind of world. Map's reserve features allow you to book anything from a hair appointment to a dinner reservation with participating businesses. All you have to do is search the business in Maps, select availability, and book.

Go to the best restaurants

Not only does Maps show users the hours of various restaurants, the app now lets users see info on trending dishes at locations. Users can also use Maps to check out reviews and business profiles.

Enjoy the best shopping

The Maps app launched a significant update to help users shop smarter, not harder, before the holiday season. One of the features, Area Busyness, allows users to tap areas on Maps to see how busy it is. The feature is great for monitoring the ebb and flow of foot traffic to shops and restaurants in your area. Alongside Area Busyness, the November update launched Pickup, allowing users to order items from grocery stores like Kroger, track order status, and share their ETA with a store. 

Never miss a flight

Now, when travel is more unpredictable than ever, travelers can use Indoor Live View. First launched in March, the function allows travelers to use AR to see where the nearest bathroom, ATM, platform, gates, and baggage claims are. 

Apps like Uber and Where Is My Train also topped the list for 2021's top travel apps, with 94 million and 23.1 million downloads, respectively. While one could argue that navigation and rideshare apps are not necessarily in-depth travel assistance, these apps are indeed helpful.  

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Janae Price is a News Staff Writer at Thrillist. She's a native New Yorker and loves all things cheese, K-pop, and culture. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @janae_larie.