Monday, December 4, 2023


How to find that boondocking spot again: Just take a photo

By Chris Guld, Geeks on Tour
In several articles here at RV Travel I have praised the ability of our phones to record location along with the photos we take. Here is another example of that, using a new feature of Google Photos called “Explore Map”.

Remember that great boondocking site you had near Quartzsite? Could you find it again? Did you take a photo of it? If so, then Google Photos can help you find it, and give you exact directions to drive there again. Here’s how I (and you can) do it:

  • Using your iPhone or Android device
  • Open Google Photos and tap the Search button at the bottom.
  • Tap “Explore Map” – Pinch and drag the map until I see the general area where the photo was taken.
  • Notice the “heat map” colors indicating where photos are. Tap the heat map bubble in the location I remember.
  • Now the actual photos are displaying in the bottom half of the screen. Scroll thru until I see the photo of our RV at this great desert parking spot. Tap on photo to bring it up full screen.
  • Swipe up and tap “Open in Maps” to go to Google Maps and navigate to the location of the photo.

Watch this video:

If you took a picture of it, Map View can help you find it, then get exact directions from Google Maps.

Learn more about Google Photos

If you liked this tip and you want to learn more about Google Photos, tune in to YouTube this Sunday, Aug. 30, when the author, Chris Guld, will be offering lots more tips.

Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at She and her husband, Jim, produce a free weekly YouTube show called What Does This Button Do?  They have been Fulltime RVers, popular seminar presenters at RV Rallies, and regular contributors to, for many years.




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Jim (@guest_160070)
1 year ago

As tech savvy as i am, i finally realized I needed to update everything to make it work and waalaa there it worked. Thank you.

Tommy Molnar (@guest_160052)
1 year ago

If you have a fairly new vehicle and it has the GPS mapping stuff, you can simply save the location where you are in the “favorites” section.

Donald N Wright (@guest_160041)
1 year ago

Actually, I take the photographs in large parking lots so I can find my truck later.

Jef and Brenda from Savannah, Georgia (@guest_160036)
1 year ago

Also, there is another issue. We routinely download the photos off of our phones and put them on our personal computer. We then backup to DVDs. It seems that the location metadata apparently gets lost along the way, because we see no location information when viewing later. So these types of photos would have to be left on your phone…..

Larry (@guest_132862)
2 years ago

Why not just open the compass app on your iPhone and write down or take a screenshot of the app showing the GPS coordinates and when ready to return, just put the coordinates in your navagation app and it will take you there within 50′ of the coordinates… I do not know the compass app is on an Android…

chris p hemstead (@guest_93472)
3 years ago

Location service on will put the GPS coordinates in the metadata.

Vicki B. (@guest_93400)
3 years ago

The free app What3words will save your location within a 3 meter square. The world has been mapped out in 3 meter squares with 3 words assigned to each square. Google maps recognizes the 3 word sequence as a location. Police in Great Britain and Canada are now using the app. You could take a picture of your spot, save in Google photos with the 3 words as a title. Wish I had done this on my last trip.

Will B. (@guest_93148)
3 years ago

As Glenn mentioned, having location services on while taking the photo is required for such a feature, generally. However, many may not know that the reason Google can tell you the “where” of a photo is because it’s embedded in the file on most modern camera phones, like an Android, iPhone, or similar. I have been a super-fan of a tiny, free program called “Irfanview”. I’ve been using it for years. It can view almost any image file, most video types and even has some super-basic editing tools (to draw arrows, boxes, etc.), batch processing for resizing, rotating, on and on.

The point, as I digress a bit there, is that Irfanview (and I’m sure several other image viewers) can show you the “EXIF” data associated with that photo. In that EXIF data is the GPS information, if available when the photo is taken.

Here is an example of GPS information being shown for my brisket plate at the wonderful Barrelhouse BBQ in downtown Lynchburg, TN.

Steven Sims (@guest_93111)
3 years ago

This is a GREAT tip! Thanks!

Glenn (@guest_93095)
3 years ago

I think that this only works if you had location setting on when you took the photo. I never have that on and don’t have an option for “explore map” on either of my devices when hitting search from Google Photos.

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