College gives you the opportunity to travel to more places than you’d have ever imagined. With programs like National Student Exchange, study abroad opportunities, national conference trips with student clubs, and spontaneous road trips with your buds, it’s likely that you’ll see a few faraway places during your college career. One cool thing to do while traveling is to keep track of all the places you’ve been.
Many people track their travels by simply sticking a map to their wall and pushing thumbtacks into all the places they’ve been. This creates a great reminder of your travels, but it’s not always practical – you can be putting holes in your dorm walls, and a physical pin map can’t be shown to other people without them coming to your room to see it or you taking a new picture every time you update it. Luckily, there’s a 2011 way to do almost everything, and making pin maps is no exception.
You can use your Foursquare check-in feed with Google Maps to create a digital pin map of your travels, and best of all, it’s embeddable – you can check out mine below or on my website. All you have to do is import the feed URL into Google Maps, and the rest is done for you.
Don’t know what Foursquare is? For the uninitiated, Foursquare is a location-based social network/app/game that lets you “check-in” to the places you go with your smartphone. There’s a Foursquare app for almost every smartphone platform, so you should be to find one for yours. Even if you’re still rocking a dumbphone, you can check in via their mobile web site or even with text messages. With almost 8 million users, Foursquare has grown into a huge social platform and has put geo-location apps “on the map” (deal with the pun). Foursquare’s main value comes from seeing where your friends are and discovering new places to check out (if you’re more interested in these features, check out our post on Heat Tracker, an app that tracks venues with lots of check-ins).
To utilize Foursquare to create pin map, just follow these instructions:
- Login to your Foursquare profile from an internet browser
- Now that you’re logged in, go to your feeds page. To find your feeds from your profile, you can click on “History”, then scroll down to the bottom of the page and find the RSS icon to access your feeds.
- Copy the .kml feed (the second one) and paste it into the Google Maps search bar. Before you start the search, add “?count=5000” to the end of the feed url (minus the quotes). You can edit this number to your liking; it just specifies the number of check-ins that will be displayed.
- Now your pin map should be displayed. If you just wanted to view it for yourself, you’re done. If you want to display it, you can click “Link” in the upper-right corner and grab the HTML embed code. Then you can put it on a website, like I’ve done below.
That’s it! You now have a digitized pin map. Since Google Maps is pulling data from your check-in feed, a new pin will be automatically added to the map every time you check in. If you’re only interested in tracking your travels by city, you can simply check-in once at each place you visit. However, you might find yourself sucked in to Foursquare’s other features and start checking in everywhere. If you do, make sure you check your privacy settings to make sure you’re comfortable with them.
Here’s my personal Foursquare pin map:
View Larger Map
Got any other cool Foursquare uses? Let us know in the comments!