Gone are the days of having to visit your local travel agent to book a vacation. Now, thanks to the internet, everything from buying plane tickets to reserving your hotel room can be done from the comfort of your own home. A number of sites like Expedia, Trivago and Travelocity allow you to compare pricing and book tickets, and these companies have gained increasing visibility over the years – but did you know that Google also has skin in the travel game? That’s right – Google, everyone’s favorite search engine, is also a vastly underappreciated vehicle for planning and booking travel plans. Here are the top 3 reasons why you should consider using Google’s travel functions (and new app!) the next time you take a trip.

Praveen Kailas

Google’s travel functions will help you make your next vacation a great one.

  1. Mix and Match Flights with Google Flight Search: Other websites allow you to compare ticket pricing, but more often than not, they won’t allow you to mix and match different airline deals in one trip. Google Flight Search, on the other hand, does exactly this, which makes it very easy to get the most bang for your buck without much effort. If you aren’t under a time constraint, you can also save flights that you’re interested in and Google will monitor their pricing over time, then notify you if the price drops in order to help you maximize your savings.
  2. Scout and Book Hotels with Search Parameters on Google: While Google has yet to develop an algorithm for hotels that works like Google Flight Search, you can simply input the parameters of your hotel preferences (location, dates, and approximate cost) as a Google search. Then, Google will pull up all of the hotels that match your criteria and allow you to view ratings and reviews for each one. You can also save hotels that you’re interested in, much like you would save a flight through Google Flight Search!
  3. Integrate Your Travel Plans with Google Now: Not much has been publicized about Google Now, which functions like a digital storyboard by allowing you to create ‘cards’ about anything under the sun and add them to your Now Stream. In addition to helping you streamline your to-dos, Google Now will also create cards relating to your travel plans and automatically add them to your stream. Keeping all of your flight and hotel information in one, centralized place makes it much easier to stay organized and cut down on the anticipatory anxiety that normally comes with preparing to travel. Then, as your trip date gets closer, Google Now will automatically create a new card with all of your relevant information, making the detailed process of drawing up an itinerary a thing of the past.

Although there is certainly room for improvement when it comes to booking flights and hotels through Google (in my opinion, there is a glaring need for further integration of all of these services), I am confident that Google is continually working on improving the way it helps users book travel, and I’m excited about the assistance that Google already offers in this arena.