How to navigate for free [avoid the hassle of paper maps & expensive roaming charges!]

While preparing our 6-week trip through Japan from South to North via remote areas and major cities, we were a little bit concerned about how to find our way once there: different alphabet, hardly any knowledge of the language, very expensive roaming charges, and various modes of transportation (driving, riding the train, walking and biking in cities, hiking…) seemed tough challenges to overcome to navigate easily.

Luckily enough, a fantastic free smartphone application solves all of these issues:!

Basically, MAPS.ME provides fast offline world maps for iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices. This app allows us to download maps of any region of the world, which are fully available offline: geo-locates us and shows the local map in all its details (points of interest, gas stations, post offices, even hiking trails…) with the ability to easily zoom in and out and even route.

  1. Download the free “” app on your smartphone.
  2. Start the app and simply download the required maps to get the relevant regions for your trip (about 5 maps to cover Japan from South to North in our case) on a wireless connection.
  3. Edit your map by adding pins on the go, or by downloading our free interactive maps to your device.
  4. Use it offline, on airplane mode to save up your battery life!

It sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it?

Since our trip to Japan, has been our best companion! Only 2 U-turns while driving about 3,000km on three islands, finding remote spots on country roads, navigating our way in and out several-million-inhabitant cities, and hiking – no challenge seems too big with!

Marcella & Claire

12 thoughts on “How to navigate for free [avoid the hassle of paper maps & expensive roaming charges!]

  1. Pingback: A canyoning adventure in Somoto, Nicaragua | Best regards from far,

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