With so many of us keeping phones or other mobile devices within arm’s reach at all times, it only makes sense that we’re using these devices to do more and more, and that includes planning travel. Google has noticed a major uptick in users searching for travel-related terms from their phones and, being Google, decided to put this information to use.
The company has announced a new feature it calls Destinations that aims to take much of the hassle out of planning vacations. It isn’t a standalone app or website, but instead is built into Google search, offering up detailed information and itineraries based on users’ search terms when relevant, while staying hidden away in the background the rest of the time.
One part of Destinations has much more in common with the types of searching people normally do when planning a trip: looking for attractions in a given destination, checking what the weather is like during a specific time of the year, and similar functions. The other part, which is the real core of Destinations, is something users are likely used to going to other sites for.
Destinations is tightly integrated with Google Flights and Hotel Search, so once a user has decided where they want to go, Google takes over to automate as much of the process as possible. If you’re not sure exactly when you want to go somewhere but you have a rough idea, the Flexible Dates feature helps you book a trip within a specific time frame, finding the best price in the process.
And Google has put its massive collection of data to use for another handy feature: suggested itineraries. By using previous trips from travelers who have been where you’re going, Destinations can help suggest an ideal path and pace for your trip. This isn’t perfect — you’ll likely want to tweak a few details, and you’ll still need to arrange for some of your own travel — but it’s a quick way to get started on your vacation plans.
At least for the time being, Destinations is only available to mobile users, a somewhat strange decision considering how many people are used to doing all of their travel planning on the desktop. That said, seeing how Destinations works, it is a bit hard to imagine bringing the same experience to a browser.