Tip of the Week: Travel Made Easy (Ok, Easier) with Google
Planning for a trip and getting stressed out by all that logistic-wrangling? Well, what's technology for if not to make our lives easier? Here are a few tips on harnessing the almighty (and, let's face it, kind of scary) power of Google to smooth out some of that prep.
1. Search for and book flights using Google's Flight search, available on the left navigation bar on your search results page.
—Choose your departure and arrival airports, dates and times, ticket price and flight duration, as well as a preferred airline (if any)or rewards program, a connection city, and number of stops. (Whew.) You can sort flights according to takeoff time, duration, arrival, airline, route, and price.
—Google also provides a limits chart and a calendar view with its filters, which lets you visually weed out the long, expensive flights (because no one likes those). Once you pick flights, click to be taken through the airline's booking process (not through Google). Unfortunately, if the link is not available, you'll need to contact the airline directly.
—With Google+, you can share your plans with your fellow travelers or, if you want the world to know, the entire Google community. A similar experimental search option is available for hotel booking.
2. Now that your flight is set, you'll want to figure out what to do once you get to your destination. In addition to reviews and suggestions by trusted publishers like Fodor's, you may want to get some input from travelers who've blogged about their experiences. Using the Google Blog search (again, in the left navigation bar) search for your destination and find out what the world (including the Fodor's Community) is saying about your destination.
3. Weather, currency conversion, measurement systems—searching for this necessary data can slow you down on your trip. Google makes it easy to get critical information on the fly on your smartphone or other device. Using basic Google search, you can type in "weather Rome" to get a four-day forecast. "200 USD to Euros" gets you a quick and easy converter tool, without having to leave the search page. Need know what the time is across the pond? Type "time London" and avoid waking up your British relations in the middle of the night.
4. On a long bus ride or flight? Pass the time with some new apps. Google allows you to search specifically using its Applications search (again, you guessed it, in the left navigation bar), that will help you learn a language, let you play with friends, or take some embarrassing photos. The possibilities for fun (or humiliation) are endless.
5. Finally, you need to know how to get where you're going. Two words. Google Maps. Find bus routes, walking routes, and plot your way to adventure. Need I say more?
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