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When it comes to its consumer-focused apps, Google can be a little hit and miss. Does anyone remember Google Wave, for example? But when Google gets it right – as in the case of Google Photos – it gets it really right. Its latest offering, Google Trips, definitely does more right than it does wrong.
Download and install Google Trips and, if you also use Gmail and have any information on upcoming flights or hotel bookings in your inbox it’ll automatically create a ‘trip’ to which you can add information. If not, you can simply answer the question in the search bar at the top of the landing page: ‘Where do you want to go?’ and build a trip from there.
Planning on the fly
Or, if you’ve left things to the last minute and have already arrived in your destination – or you just want to see what’s on offer in your hometown – it picks up your current location, too. Once you’ve got a trip set up you can add or remove details from it. Tap the trip name and you’ll be presented with a selection of colourful tiles with names like ‘Reservations’, ‘Things to do’, ‘Food and drink’, ‘Getting around’ and ‘Need to know’.
Under reservations you’ll find (or can add) travel information like flights, train tickets, hotel bookings and the like. Things to do, as the name suggests, offers lists of the most popular tourist attractions, complete with ratings from other Google users (if they exist), opening times, and other pertinent information. See something you like? Tap the star icon and it’ll be added to the ‘Saved places’ tile (which also includes anything you might have starred in Google Maps).
Things to do also offers different tabs like ‘For you’, ‘Local favourites’ and location-specific ones, like ‘Brooklyn standouts’ if you’re planning a trip to New York. Strapped for time and only want to see suggestions that are close to one another? Tap the map icon in the top right of the screen and you can plan your itinerary based on location instead.
If you’ve got multiple days in a city you can make different plans for each day. Add items to a day plan and you’ll get additional suggestions based on them. And the best part? Once you’ve created a trip you can tap a button to download it to your device, meaning all those suggestions, maps, transport information and other details will be stored on your phone or tablet, so you won’t need a data connection when you arrive.
Rain or shine
However, if you do have connectivity when you arrive (whether its hotel Wi-Fi or a local SIM card) Google Trip will keep you posted about local conditions. So, for example, if you’ve planned to go to a park or other outdoor venue the following day but the weather forecast has a day of rain in store, it’ll suggest you visit that museum you starred, or other indoor activities instead.
One of our favourite features of the app is the wide range of food and drink suggestions. An overview tab clues you in to local cuisine, street food and delicacies, while the ‘top spots’ tab suggests all manner of restaurants and bars, from the high-end to the budget, family friendly to sundowner suitable. Thanks to Google Trips we’ve found a selection of new vegetarian spots to try in Johannesburg, two of which we didn’t even know existed.
Whether you’re passing through a city and only have a few hours to spare, or you’re trying to coordinate a three week, multi-city honeymoon, Google Trips will make sure you don’t squander any of the actual trip trying to figure out what to do, and that you’re never short of suggestions, no matter what you’re into. It’s like a guidebook in your pocket, except it’s free and constantly kept up to date.
Get Google Trips
Note: Remember that you will need data to download and use the app. You can buy data bundles from Vodacom Online by logging in to the MyVodacom App»