We love apps that help us to maximize our travel experience. One type of app that is extremely popular are travel itinerary managers. These apps help keep all your bookings and reservations in one central place, and sometimes help you to find things to do. In this video/post, we share our Google Trips review — one the latest travel app from Google.
My history with travel itinerary apps
Travel itinerary apps and services are not new. I remember a coworker of mine in 2009 telling me to sign-up for TripIt (iOS | Android) so we could share our itineraries on business trips and conferences. Since then, I’ve used a couple of itinerary organizers. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus used to offer a TripIt Pro membership, which was great. It added additional premium over the normal account like frequent flier miles tracking and support on getting refunds when your flights are delayed or canceled. After the benefit disappeared, I started using Kayak (iOS | Android), which offered much of the same basic functionality.
A few months ago, I downloaded Google Trips (iOS | Android), and I’ve been impressed with it. It’s only available as an app, so there isn’t a web interface for it. However, it’s quickly become my new favorite travel app, and here’s why:
What I like about Google Trips
1. Gmail integration:
While most of the other travel itinerary apps offer a similar integration, I feel like Google Trips seems to have better recognition of my travel reservations. The app automatically pulls related travel and begins organizing the data into trips. This makes it easy to find hotel, airline, and rental car reservations and confirmations while on the go.
2. Basic destination info:
One of the features that I find valuable is the “Need to know” section. This area gives you customized information on your destination like:
- Health and emergencies
While it’s not available in all locations, Google is expanding it every day. It’s definitely useful information to have when traveling to a new location.
3. Recommended places to eat, drink, and see:
This is another valuable feature of the app. Google Trips offers information on the local dining scene, and even provides details on local specialties and cuisine. A separate tab also shows you recommended locations based on reviews.
The “Things to do” section offers attractions that can be sorted by a number of categories which seem to be customized to the location. Not only can you get additional information like directions, phone number, and website, but you can save it as a favorite.
4. Saved locations & day plans:
As I mentioned earlier, saving attractions and restaurants allows you to view them in one location, both as a list and on a map. What makes this great is that it helps you plan your day, especially when you can see the places you want to visit on the map.
Google Trips takes this a step further and offers a suggested day trip feature that will plan a daily itinerary for you based on your list of saved items and your location. The app already has suggested day plans built into the main home screen, but this allows you to create your own custom day plans based on what you want to see.
5. User and locational awareness:
One of the features of Google Trips that really separates it from other itinerary services is that it recommends places based on your search history. This might seem invasive to some folks, but I think it makes a lot of sense. For example, if you’re a vegan, the app should recommend restaurants that fit your diet. Or if you’re LGBT, it should show LGBT-friendly locations.
Additionally, Google Trips adjusts recommendations based on weather conditions. For example, if it’s raining, Google Trips will adjust recommendations toward indoor activities. It’s a way for the app to harness the data collected by Google.
This feature isn’t available in all locations, but in some cities, Google Trips will show you available discounts for tours and attractions. Again, it’s not a must-have feature, but it’s something that separates it from other travel itinerary services.
7. Multi-city support:
If your trip spans multiple locations, then Google Trips automatically shows you information on each. It’s a nice touch and makes it a compelling alternative to carrying multiple guidebooks.
8. Offline capabilities:
Since connectivity can sometimes be a challenge, especially when traveling internationally, Google Trips allows you to download your information so you can access it offline. It’s something that I definitely recommend doing, along with Google Maps, to ensure that you always have access to maps on your phone.
Things I wish I could do with Google Trips
As of October 2017, the only features that I think are missing from Google Trips are:
1. Web interface:
Google Trips is only available as an app, which means that there isn’t a way to access the information on the web. While it’s not critical, it would be nice to access the information on my computer.
2. Travel notifications & support:
Other itinerary apps have features that will notify you of flight status and gate changes, even in their free basic versions. This is something that I would love to see Google Trips offer in the future. I noticed that TripIt and Kayak seem to often have more up-to-date information than even the boards in the airport.
TripIt Pro, which costs $49, has some additional features that I love to see offered on Google Trips. This includes tracking frequent flier miles, notifying you of better available seats, and even helping you get a refund if your plans fall apart.
3. Non-Gmail integrations:
Google Trips only works with Gmail accounts at the moment. So if you use other email providers, then you won’t be able to sync your account with the service. If you do have a Google account, but maybe you don’t use it as your primary email address, you can still forward your reservations to your Gmail account so it gets picked up by Google Trips.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that not all the features are available in every location. For example, when I compared the features for our upcoming UK trip versus our Mexico trip in August, it’s clear that there is a significant difference in the information available for these two locations. Though with all the data that Google collects, I think it’s safe to assume that those gaps will be filled soon.
Do you use Google Trips or other itinerary services? If so, please let us know in the comment section below.