Americans clearly are ready for a post-pandemic vacation.
Over the July 4 holiday weekend, the TSA reported over 10 million people passed through airport checkpoints which are close to pre-pandemic numbers over the Fourth of July holiday in 2019.
If you're looking to book a vacation now for late summer or early fall, you can spend hours using different websites and apps to browse hotels, airline fares, and places to see.
Just before the global pandemic, Google decided to pull the plug on the popular Google Trips planning tool. If you're just now planning a trip again, you'll be happy to know Google Trips is now Google Travel.
The website, there's no app, allows travelers to search for and book flights, hotels, and vacation rentals. And it makes it easier to find the best deals. Just search for Google Travels.
Select where you want to go and the dates and Google pulls all of the information together in one place.
I'll plan a trip to Yellowstone National Park in September as an example. Google Travel shows typical weather conditions and any travel restrictions. I get some idea of flight prices from my home. Remember, Google knows where you live.
Google puts the best flights at the top along with prices for all the dates which could save me hundreds by traveling a day earlier or a day later. I can track prices too with email updates on flights anywhere near Yellowstone. If I select "book this flight", it takes me to the airline website.
Google Travel shows hotels, prices and ratings and reviews, and photos from other travelers. Plus articles on the hotel from a Google search. It also shows available vacation rentals.
Under "Things to do" other travelers post photos and reviews. Zoom in on a map of where you're staying to see some off-the-beaten-path secret treasures discovered by travelers or some "local favorites".
Once you book the trip, any confirmations coming to your Gmail address get added automatically to the itinerary. Bookmarking a stop puts it on a to-do list.
There are lots of things to love with the Google Travel platform and it can and does make trip planning convenient.
But there's a drawback for anyone concerned with privacy. Whatever you search for is saved in Google. So expect to see related ads pop up across the web. Plus, all of your previous trips are stored in Google. I checked and mine go back to 2016. A trip to Las Vegas is in my travel history, including the flight number and the hotel where I stayed. While that might be good for me to access the information or book the same trip, it can be worrisome to have that information stored on Google's servers.
You can delete the history along with your travel information in your Google Activity window.
Google Travel is another great tool if you don't mind it all being saved somewhere with everything else Google sees and stores about you.