Using Google Maps in Airplane Mode

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For the past two weeks, I had an opportunity to explore Portugal with family. While this was my first time visiting the country, it was not the first time exploring Europe. This time around however, I discovered something extremely helpful with the mobile version of Google Maps. It was completely new to me, but I don’t think it is a new feature. Some of you will probably nod your head as you have utilized the feature before.

When I travel abroad, I do not get an international plan, especially for the short period of time that I am visiting. I plan ahead while on WiFi in the Airbnb that I am staying in. I take screenshots of things that I want to remember while out exploring. Well, not only did I do this again, I also discovered that you can download an offline map of an area through Google Maps. This allows you access to google maps on your phone while you are not on WiFi. The GPS signal from my phone still let me know exactly where I was. It was great!

There are a couple of things you need to know. You need space on your phone to save the map locally. I found it extremely helpful to open up Google Maps in the morning prior to our day’s adventure, while having access to WIFI, to make sure that the map loads as clear as possible. If I needed walking directions, I would find the route that I needed to take, and save screenshots on my device as this feature does not work offline. Keep in mind however, that the offline map was great for those times where we found ourselves going to places we hadn’t previously plan on going and just needed a reference point of where we were.  GPS still works through the phone even when your phone’s cellular feature is turned off.

If I needed driving directions, I discovered that those in fact would still work through GPS tracking even though I didn’t have wifi access.


  1. Download Google Maps (if you don’t already have the app on your phone)
  2. Search the location of the world you are interested in having an offline map of. NOTE: You will only have access to the offline version of the map for 30 days starting from the day you request it.
  3. Then click on the hamburger icon on the top left corner and choose Offline Maps. Select custom maps and then choose Download.
  4. This part of the world will be downloaded on your phone. Make sure you have enough space for the map to be saved locally.
  5. You are done. Whenever you want to access this part of the world, just open up google maps app and away you go – you have access to the map even though you have turn off cellular, you aren’t connected to wifi, and your phone is on airplane mode.


While this isn’t a feature that you would necessarily use in the classroom or on a regular basis, it is a handy tip for when you are traveling abroad. Pro Tip: It might be helpful for you to explore around with what I have described prior to leaving on a vacation to ensure that you get what you are expecting to get.

If you have any questions, you know where to find me. And that is my Spiel…

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