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  • Writer's pictureJarmo Leppinen

From paper maps to Google Maps

Updated: Nov 3, 2018

I am not usually first in line to adopt new technology (I don’t have Spotify, I still buy CDs…), but I’m not completely out of date either. When I started to travel in 2009, I didn’t have a smart phone and mobile internet connection. Of course the situation was still easier than for those who travelled before the 2000s and did not have internet for the bookings and research either.

On my first trips I relied on the maps in travel guide books, other available paper maps and screen prints from Google Maps, not using internet at all when traveling. I got my first smart phone in 2012, so then I was able to use internet with the hotel room Wi-Fi. The maps in that phone worked offline at some level, but they did not show my location while offline. Mostly I used the offline map and paper maps, together with a mobile phone compass app.

Back to the future

Buying a new, state-of-the-art phone in 2016 took me to a new level. Google Maps show my location and the direction I’m going also offline. When for example getting off the metro or other underground station, it is easier to spot where I am. With a paper map I had to find the street names and figure out in which corner I was, unless there was some landmark visible.

Now I have pretty much stopped taking screen shots from Google Maps and printing them, as it is quite unnecessary. Travel guide maps are still good for getting an overview of the city and the main sights, so I still use them too.

Having internet on phone reduces the need for preparations before the trip, which I still do thoroughly. It reduces also the need to print stuff, like maps and other instructions. Reading a map from mobile phone screen is easier on the go (especially in a windy weather!) and less touristy looking than reading a paper map. Nowadays I can even use my regular data package inside the EU, so internet is available all the time.


It is important to me that things run smoothly when traveling. Having a map with real time navigation in mobile phone has definitely made things easier. It has made almost impossible to get lost, but on the other hand there is a possibility to miss some interesting things when you follow just the set path and stare your phone too much.

Probably ten years from now things are again completely different, who knows. Do you remember how it was for you when you started traveling?

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