It’s very rare when an app comes out that makes you think, “why didn’t we have this sooner?” We were hit with that feeling on Monday, when Google released Google Trips, which feels like something from the future that we wish we’d had years ago.
It’ll set up your itinerary, organize your plans and reservations, and suggest local attractions. And it’ll do so without using internet and data, a critical feature when you’re abroad and cellular data is expensive, if you have it at all. It’s an obvious, overdue, yet much-needed innovation, and will probably make your next trip smoother.
Across Google’s countless other apps, these features already existed in essence. Inbox, Google’s email app, will bundle travel plans and reservations for you. Google Maps will suggest nearby restaurants, parks, and so on, and travelers can highlight (and review) destinations and accommodations. Its flight search engine is new and improved, and in many ways already reigns supreme. And Google Destinations made the planning and preparation side of things easy as pie.
That Google combined these features into one dedicated traveling app is not surprising, then, but it is useful. (What is somewhat surprising is that it took Google so long to figure out the complete puzzle.) No longer will travelers need to sift through data spread across various apps as they travel; instead, people can have all such information bundled, and easily accessible, within just one app. Needless to say, Google Trips requires a Google account and an Android or iOS phone, but is available offline — which, in a foreign country, will indubitably come in handy.
It’s a valuable innovation, but it’s something travelers could’ve benefited from long ago. But Google’s offering unto the world something that did not yet exist in its purest form, and, since travel plans, habits, and preferences exist within Google accounts already for most people, it’s the best candidate for the job. Plus, it’s innovating despite itself:
Say your friends told you that you have to see the Sagrada Familia — and you’re looking for suggestions on things to do around that spot. Press the “+” button in the day plans tile to jump into a map view containing all the top attractions in your destination. If you’re time constrained, you can specify above the map whether you have just the morning or afternoon, versus a full day. Then simply tap and pin the Sagrada Familia to build your itinerary around it. Google Trips automatically fills in the day for you.
Meanwhile, other Google teams are working on the crowd that would rather travel virtually.