Winter is over and if you, like us, are ready to get away from the same four walls in your home, work and gym life then google just might become your new, new best friend. Last week Google announced a new travel planning experience for mobile users. It works like an app and is designed to create an easy, intuitive travel-related mobile search process, without navigating through multiple websites to determine the best travel dates, locations, prices and more.
Honestly the biggest obstacles to travel planning is well, the planning. Studies have shown that travelers visit upwards of 38 sites when planning a trip which leaves one screaming “Are we there yet?”. Locations, hotels, flights, excursions all require research, but Google has created a tool that is scarily intuitive in narrowing down where to go, how to get there, where to sleep, what to do and how much it will all cost. And it’s in one online feature, and it’s only for your mobile!
Our one gripe is that the app locks you in at 1 week – so no last minute getaways, yet! But the bottom line is Destinations on Google is the best new feature application for figuring out where you want to go. The ability to scan destinations based on real-time pricing data, input your budget parameters, and sort by interests offers an unparalleled source for realistic and actionable trip ideas.
Another plus is that the itineraries and activity suggestions on the app are based on search volume—that means you’re getting the most popular choices instead of paid listing options. This is great news for those less savvy travelers. Take advantage of this now before google starts setting up their own platform for selling activities.
So how do you do this?
Next time you open Google on your phone, try a search term like “Caribbean destinations” or “Europe destinations”—using the word “destinations” is what will pull up the new feature. You’ll get a series of information cards on various cities, presented in order of popularity (as determined by search volume and location data). And that’s step one!
Step two, locate the small menu in grey type above the destination cards that allows you to filter by desired travel dates, budget, or in some cases, interest. Select “architecture” instead of “hiking,” for instance, and your suggested European destinations will shift from Majorca and Mount Etna to Amsterdam and Madrid. (Food is notably missing from the “interests” list.) Click a specific month of the year and the cards will show you the most affordable week to travel within your time frame! Easy peasy!
And the final step is to decide on a destination, you have two options: you can “explore” to learn more about the local highlights, or “plan a trip,” which simply means selecting your dates, flights, and hotel.
In Explore mode, the most useful feature is a section of recommended itineraries, based on where travelers actually go (and in what order)—Google can figure that out by looking at anonymized location data—as well as popular search combinations. In Barcelona, for instance, Google recommends an itinerary called “Top Sights in the Eixample District,” stringing together main squares, key architectural sites, and urban gardens; it also provides walking times between each point of interest, courtesy of Google Maps.
But “Plan A Trip” is where Google’s breadth of data really shines. Here, an algorithm calculates your total trip cost, adjusting the dollar amount instantly as you toggle through calendar options. It also adjusts flight options seamlessly, presenting three or four optimal itineraries up top and the rest sorted by price. And it sorts hotel choices based on your star preferences, showing you only what’s bookable for your desired travel dates.
Just like that, you’ve conceived and booked your entire trip: in no more than three steps.