Where to Find Free State Maps: Plan your next road trip
Looking for Free State Maps for your next road trip? I’m not talking about digital prints outs. I’m talking about the real deal.
No matter how much we all love technology, sometimes you need offline access. And when it comes to traveling, it’s extra important. Did you know that there are still areas of the county that do not have reliable phone signals? That’s why I always have a highway map in my car. When you are traveling through multiple states, you may want to consider an atlas. Did you know you can order Free State Maps instead?
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How to get Free State Maps sent to you by Mail
Before your next vacation, make a list of all the states you might cross through and contact their state tourism department website. Look for their travel guide section. Most will send out a guidebook and printed map at no cost to you.
My family took advantage of this on our way from Minnesota to Texas. It made planning our trip so much easier.
When States Don’t Mail Them?
Not all states would mail out road maps. I don’t blame them either, because they cost money and let’s face it, people love free things. If the state map isn’t listed as an option on the travel guide page, you can still request a guide in hopes that it will come bundled with it.
Or do a little digging as I did on Iowa’s travel page to find that they do not send them out. You have to stop in at the visitors center to pick one up.
This is a great way to get free maps when you don’t have time to request one online. Skip online and stop in on and get one yourself.
If you can’t get one sent to you, you’ll need to stop at the first rest stop when you cross the border. They are off of main highways. Rest stops in the center of the state don’t provide as much information.
I was traveling on Christmas day so the rest of the build was shut down, but in all cases, the maps were still available on the walls. Even for the states that send you maps, they still provide them inside.
Why I always travel with Free State Maps
GPS doesn’t always show you the best route
GPS knows to show you the quickest way to get somewhere, but that’s not always best. Sometimes it can’t take you right into traffic or through sketchy areas. On the computer, Google Maps will give you alternative routes if you want to avoid certain things. But on the mobile phone, it doesn’t give you that option.
That’s when we broke out our highway map and found a new city to point to, just to avoid one city. It also gave us the chance to see more scenic roads we never would have known about.
Not all digital maps show you the state lines.
When fatigue sets in, sometimes you want to know how much longer until you reach the next milestone. That is where a state map is nice. It lets you see the big picture.
Physical maps are a great teaching tool for kids
This is a great opportunity to teach the kids to start learning about navigation. One of the best things my parents ever did was make sure I could read a map. When I got out of high school, my sister and I used those maps to travel to the coast. In the age of cell phones, this skill get’s overlooked.
Physical maps are perfect in remote areas with limited cellphone service
The biggest reason I have a road map in my car is that you don’t always have a connection. Sometimes you will be low in a valley or deep in the woods and the phone cannot help you. Normally it’s fine because you are passing through. But if you are just getting started or your app crashes you’ll have to navigate yourself.
Traveling with your maps
Before leaving for your road trip, gather up your maps and put them in an expandable pocket folder. This is a great way to keep them in good condition while not in use, and easy to find when you are heading back home through the state.
Keep your maps safe while you travel and put them all in an expandable pocket folder.
Small Accordion File Organizer
Tips for Using Maps
Familiarize yourself with the map before you begin your journey. Look at the legend to understand the different symbols and icons used, and locate any landmarks or points of interest that you may want to visit.
Pay attention to scale. Different maps may have different scales, so be sure to check the scale of the map you are using to ensure that you are getting an accurate representation of distances.
Teach children how to read maps. Show them how to locate their starting point, their destination, and any points they may need to visit along the way. Encourage them to look at the map regularly and to ask questions about the route.
Use the map to identify potential rest stops or places to eat along your route. This can be especially helpful if you are traveling with children or have specific dietary needs.
Consider using a highlighter or pen to mark your route on the map. This can help you to keep track of your progress and identify any areas you may need to revisit later.
Don’t be afraid to ask for directions if you get lost. Maps are great tools, but they are not always 100% accurate. If you are unsure of your location, don’t be afraid to ask for help from locals or stop at a rest area or visitor center to get your bearings.
What else you can do with your maps?
After you are done with the trip, make sure to keep them someplace safe. We have a bin at home filled with them. Before each trip, we grab the ones we need and request any new ones. I keep my maps for about 5 years. After that, you may want to refresh them for any new roads that have popped up.
If you don’t plan on visiting the state again, you can turn your old maps into fun crafts. I’ve made magnates out of them. There are many variations of Map Crafts.
I’ve also nabbed an extra MN map for my wall. I attached it to a corkboard and started to pin every location I visited. You can do the same with google maps too, but it’s so much more fulfilling to do it with a physical pin.
Start Your Own Collection
What about having an atlas? This is a personal preference. If you really enjoy having everything in one place or are one of those people that have trouble folding maps, (no judgments) an Atlas might be a better choice for you. Otherwise, consider taking advantage of the free state maps.
Pick up an Atlas and keep all your maps in one place! Get one by clicking here.