Use Google Maps for (almost) Free Tours

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How to Get Free Tours

(And the Importance of Good Walking Shoes for Travel)

All of the photos were taken by me on one of my free tours! (They are copyrighted, so please do not copy!)  I have really good walking shoes for travel to make it easier on my back when I am walking around!

Sometimes you learn things accidentally that can change your whole life. Such is the case with me and Google maps. I was already familiar with the fact that you can use Google maps for directions, but one day I was looking for directions and I noticed the little icons up above the directions. Besides the little car, there is one that looks like a train, and one that looks like a person. Curious, I clicked on the train one which stands for transit, and lo and behold, there were directions for how to get where I wanted to go using buses or the metro service, with several options listed!

Siena Cathedral stained glass free tours
Siena Cathedral stained glass

Oh my goodness, it gives you the exact route to get to the metro, the number of the metro you need to take and a list of the connecting ones you need too! Now that is freaking awesome if you ask me! So from then on I have been using Google Maps to book all my own city tours! What I do is use Google to find a list of the cool stuff to do in my current city. Then I go to Google Maps and put in my address or even just the name of my Hotel. Good ole Google brings that up on a map. Then it has a little prompt for directions. Type in your destination and click the transit icon above. Voila, there is a map with your easiest route, and under that is a list of other options.

Sometimes the bus is the best option, but I find the metro is usually the best option because they run more often and are faster, so if there is a metro (subway) option I use that one! Or sometimes it’s a combination. But either way, I write down the numbers of the metro lines we need, and very importantly, the final destination of that line, because when you get to the metro station, you need the name of the final destination to know which one to get on. Otherwise you could end up going the wrong way. This has happened to us a few times, LOL.

Mary and Jesus at Albi France St Cecile Cathedral free tours
St Cecile Cathedral,
Albi France

If you read the map you wll notice sometimes there is a cluster of numbers at some stations, and that is where you can change to a different line. Again, it’s important to figure out the final destination of the line. But if you forget, the metro stations have maps all over them, so you can read them to see. Also, as long as you don’t exit the station and are just changing lines, there is no charge. But once you exit, you have to buy another ticket. Hint: It’s usually cheaper to buy 10 tickets at once than to buy 10 individual tickets so keep that in mind. We have needed 10 tickets everywhere we have gone.

Using Google maps we have been able to go around all our cities on our list using the metro and a few buses to get everywhere for a few dollars as opposed to the expensive tour operator buses. But we do like to use those tour brochures for a list of the cool places to go. So if your hotel has a brochure of a city bus tour, pick it up and use it as a free list of the best places to see, and then get on Google maps! Sometimes the people at your hotel will know which bus or metro line to get to cool places too, but not always, so I always check Google anyway! And if there are no brochures, just Google “things to do in XXX” for a list.

Angel, Carcassone Cathedral
Carcassone Cathedral


By the way, once you get to your destination, and even while walking all over the metro station, you will need some good walking shoes for travel, and I highly recommend getting some! Regular shoes just won’t cut it. So get some good walking shoes, get out your computer and start searching Google maps!

Bon Voyage!

All Photos, © Heather Burns, 2015. Please do not copy.