Recently, I was filling an application for my UK visa and I got to a part about my travel history. The form required me to list out countries I have visited in the last 10 years. In addition to this listing, I was expected to include the time of entry into and exit from these countries.
While it was easy to remember my recent travels, I struggled with the actual dates of my previous trips. I began searching for flight itineraries or letters of invitations to get these dates. Then my colleague told me about Google Maps Timeline.
What exactly is Google Maps Timeline?
Google Timeline is a service that Google provides that keeps track of places you’ve visited, along with routes. While I have stumbled on this service before, I wasn’t aware that it included certain information. For example, I didn’t know that I could get the actual dates of my entry and exit from the places I had visited.
To clarify, unless you have disabled this service, Google Maps Timeline keeps track of your location and associated details. Information like your travel routes, mode of transportation and your time in and out of these places are tracked.
Google Maps Timeline – Travel Hack or Breach of Privacy?
Now, this service certainly came in handy while filling my visa form. On one hand, I was happy that I didn’t have to spend time searching for clues about my travel history. I could easily pinpoint my exact location and the timings within a few minutes.
On the other hand, I couldn’t help but wonder whether this was a breach of privacy. Do I really want every move I make to be tracked by Google? Does it even matter at all? I mean it’s no secret that Google collects our data. So, do preferences even matter? What if this information falls into the wrong hands?
There are options to turn off location history and also delete data already collected. You can read through this guide to find out how to do so. Also, if you’re not sure whether you have this enabled or not, you can confirm by going to google.com/maps/timeline. Chances are that you do, especially if you have an android device.
For some weird reason, I still believe that Google would still keep track of your information whether you choose to opt-out or not but I may be wrong. In any case, I’m still trying to figure out whether I want it or not. I would love to hear your verdict.
Do you think this is a great travel hack or would you consider it an invasion of your privacy? I’d love to know what you think…