Make Google Your Travel Assistant:
I love technology, always have and probably always will, at least until Skynet takes over and enslaves us all, when that happens I’ll write a post about Surviving Google instead. Technology has become integrated into our day to day life, many of us can’t live with out checking our phones every few minutes. With all the gadgets, the apps and the Internets, society has never been so connected, we have never had so much information readily available. We’ve never been able to carry a world of tools with us wherever we go, quite like we can today. With all the mobile tech available these days, it’s amazing how much it can enhance your travel experience, and without a doubt you should be taking advantage of it.
In this series, we’re going to explore what technology, apps and websites that we found most useful on our trips. With this first article, I will tell you how we used Google to aid us in directions, planning, booking, price checking and information while we were on the go.
Probably the most known feature that Google offers is the search engine. It revolutionized how we get information from the internet and now it’s always with us on smart phones and other devices. You don’t need a travel guide with you to learn about a new place anymore. Now, all you have to do is ask Google and there is a 99% chance you are going to find what you’re looking for. Here are some of the top things we searched for in new places:
Directions: Just put the name or address in of a place and it will bring up Google maps with the best route to your destination. Beyond useful obviously when your are traveling.
Currency exchange: You can find out up-to-date exchange rates. Most times if you have Google Now, it will show up in one your cards automatically.
Food, attractions, etc: Search for the best places to eat, what to do, what to see, what the night life is like and whatever else you can think of.
Reviews: After searching for a business like a restaurant you can read the user reviews and see ratings to determine, if you want to go to that place or not.
Booking information: You can search for rooms and are able to compare the prices and reviews wherever you may be. You can even look up plane tickets, bus fares, subway information, etc..sometimes, Google Maps will even pop up with an option to buy tickets if you’re searching for a destination in maps.
Google Maps is pretty self explanatory but there are some key features that come in very handy. We used it all the time, in some cities it was better than others but overall it’s beyond helpful. Google
Directions: Will give you detailed directions along with route options to choose from. You can also add stops to your route if you want to explore, then just continue where you left off.
Make your own map: You can make your own map to use for planning, reference or whatever you might want.
Measure distance: You can measure the distance between locations, and see how long it will take to get there using various modes of transportation.
Parking: If you are renting a car you can have Google Maps save your parking spot, then get directions back to it later.
Nearby: Search for places of interest nearby. Also great for finding ATM’s and restaurants, which were the two main things we used it for.
Public transportation: Public transportation stops, stations, etc, are shown on the map and you can also search for them specifically using the nearby feature.
Traffic: If your are renting transportation, maps will update your route with any delays on your due to traffic or other adverse road conditions.
Offline: You can download the map of the area you are in to use offline, because we all know how unreliable phone service can be when you are traveling.
Google Local Guides:
This feature is integrated into both the search function and maps. You can get reviews, ratings, and suggestions on various places made by people just like you. You can even sign up and become a guide yourself. This feature is continuously getting better as more and more people review and suggest places all around the world.
One of the best features, hands down. Translate works with almost any language, it does struggle with some dialects however. Generally it was the most accurate on websites, and translating text that is typed into it. With the advancement of voice recognition technology, the microphone feature is getting increasingly better at translating speech, and one day may even be able to translate real-time conversations. The best feature for us, was the ability to take a picture of a sign or menu and have it translated to English. The formatting for the results of the camera feature could be better, but I’m sure it will improve over time.
If you set up your cards right, this is a very helpful feature. Even if you do not personally set up your cards for traveling, Google still knows where you are and will make suggestions based off your location and recent searches. For us it would always have a translate link, currency exchange, local attractions, directions to nearby places, check-ins for flights and rooms, plus much more. It was a great way to keep us organized and keep information that we commonly looked up readily available.
We have not used this app yet, but from what I’ve read it’s a pretty good Travel Planner and rolls many of Googles best travel features into one app. When we do get the chance to use this app, I will definitely let you guys know what we think.
So, there you have it, our favorite Google features for traveling. Let us know what Google features you find most useful on your journeys in the comment section below.
You can read the next article in this series by clicking the link below.