Save Yourself Data Overages when Traveling with the Three Best Offline Map Apps

offline map apps traveling man using phone app while
Travel is amazing. Getting hit with exorbitant data roaming fees isn’t. Unfortunately, it can be damn near impossible to make sense of your mobile carrier’s international plans and pricing. What’s worse is that accessing map apps (arguably the most essential bit of technology for travelers) requires boatloads of data. But, with a little advanced planning, it doesn’t have to. These three offline map apps allow for map viewing without a data binge, so you’re (almost) guaranteed never to get lost while in a foreign country.

Google Maps

Google Maps App

Second only to Waze, Google Maps is the silver standard for mobile mapping applications. One of its best and still relatively unknown features is the ability to access maps offline. It’s a godsend for travelers, but the functionality is buried in the app if you don’t know where to look. You can access it like so:

  • Launch the Google Maps mobile app (make sure you’re signed in to Google)
  • Search for a destination (“San Francisco”, for example)
  • Tap the location name on the bottom of the screen to pull up its details
  • Tap the three dots in the top right of the screen
  • In the popup menu, select “Download Offline Area” and follow the prompts

The downloaded map will remain on your mobile device for up to 30 days, and you can manually open and update already downloaded offline maps at any time. Best of all, the app is free to download for iOS and Android.

Avenza Maps

Where Google Maps takes a high-level approach designed to get you efficiently from A to B, Avenza Maps is for travelers seeking specialized, niche maps. It functions as a means to distribute digital versions of paper maps to mobile devices. The app features a massive catalog of more than 750,000 maps from map agencies, cartographers, and organizations like National Geographic. In addition to offline functionality, the app also provides for plotting geo-tagged photos and recording GPS tracks. The app is free to download for iOS and Android, as are most of its maps (some maps may require a la carte purchasing).

MAPS.ME

Like Google Maps, MAPS.ME is designed with a bold, bright, intuitive interface to get you where you need to go. Because the app pulls from community-based OpenStreetMap data, it features one of the largest databases of points-of-interest in the world. While the maps render quickly on-screen, this comprehensive approach can mean that routing and search functionality might take longer than you’d like. On the upside, the makers promise the app can help you navigate “any country, any place, from the largest cities to the smallest villages.” So, even if you’re vacationing on some remote Pacific atoll, you’ll be able to find your way. The app is free (without ads) to download for both Android and iOS.

Keep in mind that, in offline mode, real-time feature (traffic, in particular) won’t be accessible in any of these apps. For that matter, neither will alternate routes or lane guidance. In some regions (like Cuba), offline maps simply aren’t available because of language support, address formatting, or contractual limitations. But, that seems minor compared to paying hundreds or thousands of dollars in roaming fees when you return home.

Food & Drink

Heading to Hawaii? Make Your Reservations at Manta Restaurant to Eat Big Island Beef

How can cattle raised in Hawaii stand-up to beef carefully coddled for years in Japan, Australia, and the mainland U.S.? Pretty damn easily, that's how.
Travel

21 Best Travel Books to Inspire Your Next Adventure

Get out of town ... or just go to the library. Travel books simulate the sensations of sailing, sightseeing, and setting out to explore.
Travel

You Can ‘Find Yourself’ on these Ultra-Luxurious, Wellness-Inspired Tours

It's so much easier to "find yourself" amid Egyptian cotton sheets and daily spa treatments.
Auto

These Medieval Bandit9 Motorcycles Inspired by King Arthur Are Living in the Future

Bandit9’s newest motorcycle masterpieces, Arthur and Merlin, may reference medieval lore but the machines are living in the 61st century instead of the 6th.
Living

The Best Mattresses for Side-Sleepers Who Need Support

Do you sleep on your side? You may need a mattress designed with you in mind.
Living

Detroit’s Shinola Hotel Has Us Feeling Right At Home

With stylish guest suites and a social “living room,” the Shinola Hotel honors the Motor City’s past while looking to a bright future.
Travel

‘App in the Air’ Could Help Travelers Survive the Next Government Shutdown

It's like an airport survival kit in your pocket. It will be handy long after the government shutdown ends (again).
Travel

The Best Travel and Adventure Documentaries on Netflix Right Now

If you're reading this, you're staring at a screen. Wouldn't you rather be exploring a different part of the world than the Internet?
Outdoors

4 of the Most Dangerous Hikes in the World

You'll need a healthy dose of fear and a desire to push your self to the edge — just not over it.
Travel

The Palms Casino’s Newest High-Roller Suites Have a Bowling Alley and Whiskey Room

The Hardwood Suite is a basketball-centric masterpiece, while the Kingpin suite is a bowling bro's paradise.
Travel

Celebrate Your Single-ness This Valentine’s Day with a Cheap Vacation

Contiki is looking to make solo celebrations even better with deeply discounted travel packages for Singles Awareness Day.
Travel

Win a Private Island Getaway for You and 7 of Your Closest Friends

Bring the entire squad on an ultra-luxe Belizean getaway worthy of a one-percenter.
Travel

10 Reasons to Visit Norway in 2019

The picturesque ruggedness of Norway is just part of the appeal of what may arguably be one of the most beautiful countries on the planet.
Living

The Jamaican Villa Where Ian Fleming Created James Bond is for Rent and It Is Amazing

You can vacation at the birthplace of secret agent 007, complete with butlers to make your martinis.