Some of Nicolas Mollet’s newest map icons

During the past few years, I’ve developed a habit of obsessively researching our vacation destinations before we depart. If the world’s best ceviche or even the best-dressed collection of cockroach corpses just so happens to be nearby, I want to know about it and experience it before I leave. My failure to recognize Barcelona as home to the so-called “World’s Best Restaurant” until months after we returned from Spain and I read an article about its closure has only solidified this mindset. To ensure no acclaimed culinary delight (or insect shrine) escapes my radar, I’ve started keeping track of the recommended sights, experiences, restaurants and lodgings listed in the library books I borrow and the online travel articles I read. Through Google Maps, I record each recommendation with a pin, using the description field to list the source material’s web link and/or notes to put it in context.

My Google map for the Big Trip has gotten a little out of hand, expanding into countries we haven’t seriously considered exploring this go-round, but the duration of this trip means we have the flexibility to entertain countless options. My intention is to consult this map when we’re abroad and perhaps seeking a memorable meal or activity. (I guess it works in reverse too, say, if we’re desperately trying to recall which of the Bangkok hostels is renowned for its raisin-sized bedbugs.)

If you too harbor borderline OCD organizational fervor and wish to craft your own editable travel map of possibilities, I recommend visiting Mollet is a French, Brazilian-based web developer who’s created what must be the definitive source for map icons. His website offers more than 700 free map icons categorized and available for download in numerous styles and colors. Download an icon, upload it to your blog and then paste the image URL in the “Add an icon” address bar of the description field for whatever site you’re marking. It’s easy and fun and addictive in an incessantly collecting, Pinterest sort of way. All Mollet asks is that you perhaps buy him a beer.