Part of working in ‘Digital’ means that I spend an abnormal amount of time trawling through Google. Every so often I come across a sweet new update that the guys over at G have implemented, and apart from the obvious updates to Google Maps and the ‘Street Views’ that they’ve built for the Great Barrier Reef and Machu Picchu, the majority of their updates are aimed at the general user. However, the latest changes to the Google Travel pages are super helpful to those of us that constantly have travel on the brain, and here’s how to make use of them.
Google are calling their new tool ‘Google Destinations’ which kind of makes sense when you work out how to use it. In their own words:
“Search with Google on your mobile phone for the continent, country, or state you’d like to travel to and add the word ‘destination’ to see an easy-to-browse collection of options”
The short version is to watch this video
For those of you who don’t want to watch the video, or can’t for whatever reason, this means if I wanted to go to Europe, I’d simply search for ‘Europe destination‘.
This search (bear in mind this only works on mobile devices) will show you blocks with potential destinations and their major attractions. You can expand the search to feature more destinations by clicking the blue downward pointing arrow.
I get London, Paris, Rome and Barcelona in the results. Taking London as an example, I’m shown that it is the UK Capital, and the home of Buckingham Palace. It even tells me that between April 16th and 23rd I can fly there for $170 and get accommodation for $123. Not bad. I’m using my desktop to emulate the results so it can’t work out that I’m actually only 110 miles up the road.
Clicking through onto the small London panel brings up a few images of our beloved capital, and even gives a bit of a background about the place.
At this point you can easily find the most popular itineraries for London based on the data Google has (which tends to be pretty darn accurate). To provide an example, the first one I’m shown is for 72 hours in London, which begins with the Tower Bridge, then the Tower of London, a Trip to St. Pauls Cathedral, the London Eye, Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster and then Westminster Abbey – all in a day’s work. It also gives ideas for the final 2/3rds of the 72 hour trip and includes journey times and whether to go on foot or use other transport.
I’d say that’s pretty handy info to have.
If you’re traveling with children, there are even itineraries for “London with Children” and info on other attractions such as “Museums of London”. I’m going to guess it will save a lot of trawling the internet if you don’t know too much about your destination.
Better still, you can click on the individual destinations to find out their opening hours, check ratings and reviews, find contact details and program Google maps to guide you to the front door. That should make reading those pesky foreign signs a bit simpler.
If you dive a bit further down the London result you reach some key information on peak travel times. I’m told London is most popular between June – September and also around Christmas to New Year. Makes sense I guess. It even gives you a popularity rating from 0-4 and gives you a rough indication of the weather to expect. It turns out March is only 2/4 with highs of 52*F (Why can’t you gives me *C Google?)
There’s also a section which links you through to restaurants, travel arrangements and accommodation. You can click through each to find listings of whichever one you click. E.g. if you click on accommodation you’re presented with a list of hotels, hostels and whatever else you consider accommodation.
The listings are complete with images, pricing, reviews and STARS. Who doesn’t love * rating hotels? Each listing also has a bit of an info-line. Using the London Bridge Hotel as an example, they’re listed as 4.2* ratings, a 4* hotel on London Bridge Street (Yes, you also get addresses and a pin on the map of London that goes above it) It’ll set you back $285 and is listed as a ‘Contemporary rooms in 1915 building’.
Whilst you’re on it, you can also watch a few videos on Youtube about traveling in London, and if you reach the bottom of the page you’ll get results about other places to explore in the UK (because that’s where London is, duh). I’m pushed Bath, Liverpool and York. Not bad choices really.
A Few Extra Tips
You can find results more tailored to your interests by getting a bit more specific. Try a search along the lines of “UK hiking” and get suggestions like Pennine Way or the Yorkshire Dales. Alternatively you can search “UK Surfing” to find out about Newquay or Croyde. The latter of which I’d not heard of. It also works for some synonyms such as “Trekking” rather than “Hiking”, though I don’t know the exhaustive list so you’ll need to employ a bit of trial and error. (Protip: Skiing and snowboarding also work)
You can also use the name of your destination and the word travel to find this information, just in case typing vacation makes you cringe. Knowing Google, eventually the search semantics will kick in and you’ll be able to search far broader terminology to get your results, but for now it’s a really helpful tool to help plan a trip. The only thing it doesn’t do is book it and pay for it for you.
If you want to read the post by Google on the new tool, you can find it on the Google Blog