Google’s Travel Planning Tools Just Got Even Better. Here’s How.
Using Google Flights, you can now track prices to find deals for any dates, and that’s just for starters
For the uninitiated, Google Flights is basically a metasearch engine that pulls in results from over 300 airline and online travel agency partners, resulting in a plethora of (usually affordable) flight options. It’s long been my — and many other industry professionals’ — preferred tool for tracking flights, booking airfare and just generally sourcing travel inspo (hello Explore page). It’s well-liked for its functionality, clean interface and overall user-friendliness.
But according to Google’s VP of Travel Products, Richard Holden, things are about to get a whole lot friendlier.
In a blog post published earlier this week, Holden announced the launch of a handful of new travel-centric features, all of which aim to streamline the planning process. “Whether you have a destination in mind or are just dreaming about an escape, Google has tools to help you get inspired and research your options so you can book with ease when the time is right,” he wrote.
Below, the most noteworthy updates to an already great resource:
1. You can now track flights for any dates
One of my favorite Google Flights features is the ease in which you can filter flights. You can actually look at a calendar of the entire year, with the lowest price of airfare to your chosen destination attached to every single day. But now, in lieu of needing to peruse several months for the best deals, users can opt-in for email updates on price drops for any flights taking off in the next 3-6 months, to any given destination.
2. You can now “Explore Nearby”
Historically, the Explore tool has allowed users to browse destinations according to trip length and budget. Now, a pink dot will pinpoint your location and allow you to “Explore Nearby.” From here, you can browse destinations within driving destination of your location along with other details, including average price of a hotel stay — perfect for planning weekend getaways of the last-minute variety.
3. You can easily narrow down areas of interest, in destinations you may not be as familiar with
Google Travel has always been a good resource for finding hotels, but thanks to what Holden calls “new interest layers on the map,” it’s easier so see where the highest concentration of hotels, eateries, etc. are within a particular destination — beneficial if you’re traveling somewhere without a car or immediate access to public transportation, or if you’ve just never been before.
4. You can bookmark properties of interest
Pretty self explanatory, but particularly if you’re in the early stages of planning, it’s helpful to be able to save properties as you go, to be able to reference them again at a later date.
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