How to Use Google Travel Tools and Maps to Plan a Trip
Due to the pandemic, travel has been slow in the past year and you might be a little rusty when it comes to picking up and traveling somewhere to visit friends and family or just planning a trip. getaway. Either way, Google has a few useful tools in Google Maps and Google’s travel site to help you start making those plans and stay safe along the way.
Getting started with the Google travel website
Google’s travel site is meant to be a companion site that can help you plan all the details of your trip. You can use it to book flights, make an itinerary and even explore interesting places to visit at your destination. If you have a Gmail account, chances are good that any flight reservations you make will automatically show up the next time you use Google’s travel site, which will make planning trip details a lot easier. Otherwise, Google Travel may suggest locations based on your search history and interests. While it can be a little scary, it can also be very useful.
If no destination has been chosen yet, Google will suggest locations in the “Explore” tab. You can filter these places based on flight cost and hotel, which gives you a pretty good idea of where to go. After you choose a destination, Google offers you a few options as to what you would like to know. There is a “Discover” section which will detail the different points of interest. In big cities, you might find the amount of things to do or see endless. Fortunately, you can filter places and activities based on your personal interests.
If there are a few places that pique your curiosity, or if you already know you want to go, Google allows you to save them in the trip and pin them on the trip detail page. It sort of serves as a to-do list when you get to where you’re going.
Using the Google Map road trip feature
If you don’t plan to fly and want to avoid some COVID-19 hot spots, Google maps is probably the way to go. Again this year, Google added a feature to the Maps website that allows you to add stops along the route when planning the trip. Previously this was possible on mobile, but it didn’t lend itself well to planning a road trip to share with friends and family. Adding stops along the way with Google Maps on mobile was preferable for impromptu stops.
Once you’ve set a starting point and a destination, you can add stops along the way. You can add anything from a city to rest areas and gas stations. You can do this either by manually entering a stop that you already want to take a break, or by choosing one of the criteria at the top of the screen. Google Maps allows you to refine your search according to these criteria:
|Hotels||Campgrounds||Restaurants||Coffee||fast food||Groceries||rest areas|
When selecting from any of these criteria, Google will also offer a few filters. For example, the choice of hotels will bring up a “Guest Rating” filter, as well as a “Amenities” filter, to make sure you have free Wi-Fi. Of course, if none of these are right for you, you can always search for whatever you want. The good thing is that these suggestions can add a bit of sparkle to the trip by suggesting something you never might have thought of, which makes the road trip even more exciting.
Once you find a point of interest, tap add a stop, and Google Maps will automatically insert it in the right place on the planned route. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to define how long you plan to spend at this stop, so the journey time may need to be calculated manually. On top of that, Google Maps has become a handy trip planner with enough tools to get you where you’re going and have fun along the way.
Planning a trip around COVID-19 restrictions
The main travel caveat right now is the looming risk of COVID-19. Fortunately, Google’s travel website and Maps both provide great tools for managing risk and assessing where you plan to go.
On the travel website, you can find up-to-date COVID-19 information for your destination quite easily. You can access this information by search and click on the destination. Below the main map which lists the date of your trip, the name of the region, and the weather, there will be a COVID information section. This section contains useful information such as the CDC’s travel advice website, COVID-19 statistics for that specific area, and the number of local cases.
By clicking on the “Travel Notice” button, you access the CDC’s COVID-19 card. This map is a risk assessment of most destinations in the world, color coded according to the degree of risk of getting there. The second button will search Google for COVID-19 information about where you are going, detailing data such as news, stats, and testing locations. The “local cases” button will display even more detailed information on active cases, vaccines administered and deaths in the region. All of this information is fantastic to have when traveling and is useful when planning your trip.
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