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How to Access Google Maps When You Have Zero Bars of Service

Ah, paper maps. Remember when you had seven in your car and were totally adept at reading one backwards while eating a burrito? Now, Google Maps is life….that is, as long as you have service. But hold on! We found a trick for accessing those maps anytime, anywhere--even in a foreign country.

What you need: The Google Maps app downloaded to your iPhone or Android

What you do: Launch the app on your phone when you still have service, then plug the name of the city or town (say, Paris) into the search bar at the top. Next, tap the bar at the bottom of the screen where the city name appears and hit download. That’s it!

OK, but where do I find the map later? When you tap the drop-down menu in the upper-left-hand corner of the app, you’ll see the option for “offline areas.” There, you’ll see Paris and can tap to open it. The only tricky thing is that you can’t actually open it unless you’re offline. (So put your phone in airplane mode to test it out before you leave the States.)

Also, one teeny, tiny FYI: The maps expire after 30 days.

So, off you go. Yay, Paris!

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