“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age “— (Matthew 28:20, in reference to Google Maps)

This year I travelled for five months, through 14 countries with my one true friend, Google Maps. The following, are ways to use the service before, during and after your travels.

1. Your Geographical Notepad

Turning your travel dreams into reality

You’re scrolling Facebook/Instagram/Reddit/Tumblr, you see a travel picture that makes you want to quit your job immediately, but you sigh, and wistfully scroll on. Does that sound familiar? If so, follow these simple steps to make your travel dreams come true!

Step one is, like my Dad always said “Son, pull your head out of your ass.” The second step is to find out where the photo was taken. Maybe, post a comment, or try reverse image searching/r/wherewasthistaken, or like a deranged ex-boyfriend, check the photo for an embedded GPS location.

You will stop at nothing.

 1. Found it on Reddit. 2. Found it on Street View 3. Found it on Google Maps 4. Stared it!   

1. Found it on Reddit. 2. Found it on Street View 3. Found it on Google Maps 4. Stared it!  

Okay, found it? Now, pull up Google Maps, sign into your Google account and star that baby! Your dreams are now firmly planted in reality, and Google’s servers.

2. Your Travel Itinerary

Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning

 You’re doing it Peter!

Since staring your first dream travel locale, you now spend most of your workday browsing Kayak’s Explore page to star-studded locations and the rest texting your friends about it.

A few weeks later, using the Stars as Your Guide™ your geographical notebook has now become your travel itinerary. You’ve got stars from Hồ Chí Minh to Hà Nội, and you’re ready to find night buses, plan motorcycle rentals and book camel safaris.

3. Your City Guide

Forget the Lonely Planet, where we’re going we don’t need guide books

You’ve bought your tickets to Vietnam and booked your train ride to Hanoi, now you can zoom in further and keep staring. Use Trip AdvisorWiki TravelTravel Independent.info to find attractions, accommodations, bars and restaurants, and star them all. With this extra step in your research you’ll have a better understanding of the city and all your plans stored conveniently, geographically, in your phone. At a glance you’ll see not only what you’d wanted to do, but where as well.

 Bun Bo Nam Bo– a great restaurant in Hanoi where the namesake dish is the only item on the menu.

But what if the streets of Hanoi aren’t paved with free wifi?

Now, here’s the trick! While traveling, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t have reliable internet service, but — “fear not, for even now I am with you (Isaiah 41:10).”

Open the Google Maps app on your phone, make sure you’re logged into your Google account and follow the .gif below to download your maps and stars offline.

4. Your Digital Scrapbook

A permanent resting place for all your geographic memories

You’ve done it! You’re rolling in Instagram likes #wonderlust #instagood #blessed. Wow, even your dad is proud of you.

Sadly, as the likes begin to fade, so will your memories, one Tiger Temple will slowly blend into another, but like the disabled elephant you washed in Thailand, Google Maps never forgets.

On my map of Sydney, Australia are the Angel Place Birdcages, an art installation of hanging cages that play the sounds of the city’s lost birds,Harry’s Café Dé Wheels, where I got a weird hotdog with mashed up peas on top, and The Argyle where I met a beautiful French girl on the dance floor.

In Scotland, the crumbling cliffside castle and New Delhi, the spice market where I stepped in raw sewage and climbed through piles of trash, right there, marked eternally, with a loving little star.

 Harry’s Cafe de Wheels in Sydney Australia, Northern Scotland at Findlater Castle and Chawri Bazar, Old Delhi, India

Harry’s Cafe de Wheels in Sydney Australia, Northern Scotland at Findlater Castle and Chawri Bazar, Old Delhi, India

“Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.” — (Theodore Roosevelt, in reference to Google Maps)