On a recent trip to Sweden, I found myself in the city of Gothenburg with no map, no access to wifi, and no data plan that allowed me to use my phone to figure out where I was. I had the Lonely Planet Sweden in my bag, but the only map large enough to be of any use was of Stockholm. It was unbelievably frustrating to think that in this age of technology, I could still find myself completely lost with nothing to help me navigate the city I was in.
Normally, I would have planned ahead, making sure that I knew where I could get a paper map, or taking screen shots of Google Maps when I had access to wifi. Circumstances beyond my control had thrown me into the helpless situation however, and, as someone who is rarely unprepared when exploring a new city (yes, I am Type A), it really didn't feel great. Eventually, I found a coffee shop with free wifi and figured out where I was and how to get to where I wanted to go, but I figured that there had to be an easier way.
And that's when I found Maps.me.
This fantastic app gives you access to fast, detailed maps that you can zoom in on and search while you are COMPLETELY OFFLINE. All you have to do is download the map of the city you are visiting when you are on wifi (or data) and then you have access to it when your phone (or tablet) is offline and with you while you are exploring a foreign city.
You can figure out exactly where you are thanks to GPS, get route information, and bookmark favourite spots so that you can return to them later (or remember them to tell friends about in the future).
While I will always love the feeling of security that comes with having a physical map in my pocket (what happens if my phone battery dies?!), this is a fantastic way to be able to navigate a new place without getting stuck paying ridiculous data fees or feeling like you are a slave to wifi.