Note: I know that many of you dislike Apple’s Maps app. If that’s the case, consider this week’s sponsor, Rego, as an alternative when pre-loading map bookmarks. It does much the same as I’ve described here, with the added benefit of itinerary planning. For example, identify your hotel as the Active Location, and then all of your other bookmarks are automatically sorted by proximity. Very cool. –Dave
Traveling with an iPhone is like having a hotel concierge with you at all times. Just as you can approach the concierge desk in the hotel and ask for directions, for recommendations, or even for a cab, your iPhone is happy to provide the same services. I like to add points of interest as bookmarks in Apple’s Maps before I go.
Why should you do this? There are several reasons. As you travel, you could find yourself with a poor data connection just when you need some information. Also, it saves time. You don’t want to be searching for the hotel while you’re on the airport shuttle, for example.
This goes beyond the hotel. A few years ago my family was in New York City when we suddenly needed to get to a pharmacy. If I had added one that was close to my hotel before leaving, that would have soothed a potentially stressful situation.
Be prepared and gain peace of mind by adding points of interest to your iPhone before you depart. That way, you’ll have each location’s address, phone number, website and directions (driving, walking and public transportation). Here’s how to stock your personal concierge desk with answers to go.
Saving Bookmarks to Maps
Bookmarks in Maps are similar to those you‘d set up in a web browser. Specifically, they are shortcuts pointing you to a given destination on a map. Instead of taking you to a website, Maps bookmarks store locations. Here’s how to create one.
- Launch the Maps app with a tap
- Tap the search field and enter the name of your hotel
- Tap Search
- One or more pins appear. Tap a pin to reveal the name of the destination it represents. If it’s your hotel, tap the blue disclosure triangle to the right of its name
- An information window appears, and it provides a wealth of information (see below). You’ll typically see the destination’s name, phone number, web address and physical address. Other information could include hours, average cost, yelp reviews and information (Kid-friendly? Takes reservations?) Yelp reviews and photos. It’s possible that a given destination won’t provide all of this information, but most do.
- Scroll to the bottom of the information screen and tap Add To Bookmarks
- The Bookmark window appears. You can accept the suggested name or write your own. Finally, tap Save.
To access your bookmarks, tap the blue bookmark icon in the Maps app’s search field. When you do, a list of the bookmarks you’ve created appears. Tap any one to jump to its spot on the map.
As you get into the habit of creating Maps bookmarks, this list will grow. The app lists them alphabetically by default, which isn’t always helpful. When I’m traveling, I always reorganize the list so that bookmarks pertinent to my trip are together. Here’s how.
- With the bookmarks list screen open, tap Edit in the upper left-hand corner.
- A “handle” appears to the right of each bookmark’s name. It resembles three lines stacked on top of each other.
- Tap and hold on the handle to “pick up” that bookmark and drag it to the desired location.
- Drop it into place.
That’s it. Now you don’t have to scroll around to find the information you’re looking for. You can also delete a bookmark, simply by tapping the red “-“ that appears while in edit mode.
I adopted this practice while my family was visiting New York City for Thanksgiving in 2011. While strolling through Manhattan, I noticed that my son was scratching at his hands a lot. I asked to see them and noticed that he had a strange rash between his fingers. I couldn’t identify it, nor could my wife. As the day went on, my son became increasingly uncomfortable.
We figured we should see a pharmacist, but how would a bunch of country bumpkins like us find one in the big city? A Maps search produced the answer, but it would have been even better if I had identified a pharmacy close to our hotel before we departed for New York.
Since then, I’ve compiled a list of vacation bookmarks I always set up before taking off. It varies from time to time, depending on the destination and the travelers, but the core list stays the same.
- Points of interest: tourist attractions, restaurants to try, the church that will host the wedding and so on.
- Relatives’ homes
- A drug store
- A hospital/free clinic
- Bus station
You’ll probably add some and remove some. In fact, let me know what you come up with.
Organize Your Bookmarks Collection
About Apple’s color-coded pins: you’ll notice that Apple uses three colors for pins in the Maps app: red, green and purple. The green pins identify a marked route’s start point. Red pins represent a route’s destination as well as individual locations. Purple pins are those dropped by you. Note also that once you add a dropped pin to your collection of bookmarks, it turns red.
It’s quite simple to access. After tapping the bookmarks icon in the Map app’s search field, tap Recents at the bottom. A list of routes and locations recently found via search will appear. Tap any one to restore it.
The great news is that tapping on a route (Point A to Point B) re-loads the entire journey, step-by-step and turn-by-turn, onto the map.
Record Locations Not On The Map
The other feature I love is the ability to drop a pin on any location. Whereas searching for a location — a school for example — drops a pin on its location, this trick lets you place a pin anywhere on the map. I use this for spots I must reference but that can’t be found with a search.
Whenever I travel to Boston, I take the train into the city. It’s convenient and much less expensive than parking in Boston itself. Recently I was forced to break my routine and park in the Back Bay. The garage I used was not on the map, so I dropped a pin and labeled it “the car.” Now I could find my way back to where it was parked, regardless of my point of origin. Here’s how to drop a pin on a map.
- Tap the page curl button in the lower right-hand corner.
- The page curls up revealing several buttons. Tap Drop Pin
- A purple pin appears on the map.
- Tap and hold to reposition it wherever you like.
I’m sure you’ll be able to think of more uses each time you plan a trip. The benefit is that you’ll have populated your map with the sites you intend to see before you walk out the door. That way, you can navigate to each confidently, no matter where you’re starting from. It will save you a lot of time and headaches.
This article is part of a series on traveling with your iPhone. You’ll find the other articles here.