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Google Maps: How to Use

Pauline Kenny, December 2005, updated September 2006

Use our Slow Travel Google Map Pointer to find coordinates for Google Maps.

How to Use Slow Travel Google Maps

When you click on the link to a Slow Travel Google Map you are taken to a page with a Google Map and a list of markers on the right side. A Slow Traveler has defined the markers and the way you see the map, but you can use the standard Google Map controls to control the map: move the map, scale the map, switch between regular map and satellite version.

Use Google Maps to explore an area you will be traveling to. Slow Travelers create these maps to annotate trip reports or travel notes. Use them to learn more about an area you plan to travel to.

Slow Travel Google Map Controls

Location and Scale

Use the arrow buttons to move the map. The center button brings the map back to its original place. You can also move the map with your mouse by clicking and dragging anywhere on the map.

Use the scale buttons to zoom in ("+") and out ("-"). Google has most of the world in the map version at all scales, but satellite is not always available. For example, in England you can zoom right into the town of Avebury so that you see the standing stones, but for Bath you do not get the same level of detail. Google Maps is currently in Beta so we can expect more detail in the future.

Map Type

Use these buttons to switch between map and satellite view. Note that satellite view is not always available to the same zoom in level as the map version.

Overview

The small map in the lower right shows where you are positioned relative to the larger map. This is good to help you understand the map location.

Marker

Small colored markers show towns, places or points of interest. A key beside the map shows the meaning of the different markers and lists them.

Hover on the marker to see the town/place name. Click on the marker to see the Information Window (see below).

List of Markers

The list of markers on the map is displayed in the right sidebar, by type of marker. Click on the marker name and the map moves to that marker and displays the Information Window (see below). For example, if you see that Stow-on-the-Wold is listed, but you don't know where it is on the map, click on "Stow-on-the-Wold" in the sidebar and you will find the town on the map.

When a map is first displayed, all marker types are listed. You can choose which groups of markers you want displayed. Click the checkbox beside the type of marker to control the display of these markers. For example, if you only want to see the main towns in the Cotswolds, uncheck all marker types except "Large Towns".

"(SV)" beside the marker name indicates a Slow View for that marker - a zoomed in satellite view. A link to this is in the Information Window.

A fun trick when looking at Google Maps is to zoom into a detailed satellite view, then click on each marker in the side bar to move to the view of that marker.

Information Window

There are two ways to see the Information Window for a marker: click the marker or click the marker name in the right sidebar.

The Information Window gives you information about the marker and may have a link for further information on the SlowTrav site or another website. There may be a small photo in the Information Window.

If you see "SV" beside the marker name, this indicates that there is a Slow View available. Click the SV and you will see a Google Map showing a zoomed in satellite view. On this example, you would see a detailed satellite view of Stow-on-the-Wold.

Close the Information Window by clicking the "X" in the upper right. You can only have one Information Window open at one time.

Note: If you hover over the marker, the marker name is displayed.

How to Put Google Maps on Your Site

You can create a simple Google Map on your own website to show the location of your vacation rental/hotel. Google Maps are controlled using Javascript on your web page. Google gives you the Javascript that you need to display a map.

Note: See Resources below. There are some websites that have a friendly interface for generating Google Maps. These may be easier to use than coding it yourself.

  • Get API key: Sign up with Google for an API key (free): www.google.com/apis/maps/. You need this put the Google Map code on your web page.

  • Make a page for your site: Find the code you need to display a map on the Google Map documentation site: www.google.com/apis/maps/documentation/. If you want a simple map showing one location, you can copy my code from this example page. Do a "View Source" and copy the styles and script code from the HEAD and the special map DIV in the BODY.

  • Find marker coordinates: To show a marker for a location, you need the exact longitude and latitude coordinates for the place you want to map. Use our Slow Travel Google Map Pointer to find coordinates for Google Maps. This page shows you a Google map starting at the world level. Zoom into different countries using the pulldown list on the sidebar. Drag to your country and use the scale on the upper left to zoom in to find your town or house, then click to place a marker. The coordinates (longitude and latitude) are displayed below the map. Copy this.

Google Maps Resources

Resources for Creating Google Maps

www.gpsvisualizer.com/calculators: GPS Visualizer. Enter longitude and latitude coordinates and find the distance in miles and kilometers between them (the great circle distance). Also converts to degrees, minutes. Creates maps with your coordinates.

www.yourgmap.com: Your GMap. This software lets you create Google Maps without writing the Javascript yourself.

quikmaps.com: QuickMaps, create Google Maps with markers and text.

Resources for Learning how to Put Maps on Your Website

www.google.com/apis/maps/: Google Maps, get API key and documentation.

Slow Travel Google Map Pointer: Get the exact longitude and latitude coordinates and zoom level for the place you want to mark on a Google Map.

www.econym.demon.co.uk/googlemaps/: Google Maps API Tutorial by Mike Williams.

googlemapsmania.blogspot.com: Google Maps Mania blog.

www.googlesightseeing.com: Google Sightseeing, blog using Google Maps to show travel destinations.

paulstamatiou.com: Paul Stamatiou, How to: Embedded Google Maps. I did not use his method for doing this, but instead followed the Google API documentation.

Example Google Map Code

Example Google Map: Simple map centered on a village in Switzerland. If you want a simple map on your website, showing one location, copy my code from this page. Do a "View Source" and copy the script code from the HEAD and the special map DIV in the BODY.

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