If you had only a week to site-see in Italy, how would you spend it? Would time constraints force you to choose between touring the Colosseum in Rome, riding gondolas in Venice, and staring up at the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City? How do you fit it all in and experience as much as possible?
Every time you go on vacation you find that there's so much to do and so little time. A new app wants to help you see and do it all.
Earlier this week, Google released Google Trips, a trip planning app. It's a free download for both Apple and Android users. It incorporates Google Maps and the information you see in Google search results to make planning a trip easy and fun.
Let's say you're planning your trip to Italy and you want to look at things to do while you're in Rome for the day. You open the app and type Rome into the search bar and the app downloads landmark and transportation information.
When you select "Things to do" you get a very extensive list of popular landmarks separated into categories such as "Ancient Rome" or Quirky Rome." For each location, you can see the star-rating, other travelers' reviews, and the hours it's open. Select the star next to the spots you want to visit and they go into your "Saved places" section.
From "Saved places" you can click the map icon in the top right-hand corner to see how far apart your destinations are from one another. Click the name of the location at the bottom and you can access the phone number, website and directions to the location.
If you're open to suggestions, select "Day plans" and you can view a full day of planned activities that arranges the destinations in an efficient route and gives you the travel time based on the quickest mode of transportation. You can even modify this itinerary to show plans for just morning or afternoon fun.
Other sections tell you everything you need to know about the area. "Food & Drink" gives you an overview of Italian dining culture and a list of suggestions categorized by qualities such as "High-end dining," "Family-Friendly" and "Vegetarian-friendly." "Getting around" outlines airport to hotel accommodations, public transit, rules about driving and parking in Italy, and so much more. The "Need to Know" section tells you about emergency services, information about currency and customary tipping habits, and tax-free shopping.
If you select "Rome available offline" on the main screen, you'll be able to see all of your plans and selections once you get there, without trying to find free Wi-Fi or using up all of your data.
The app can pull information from your email such as confirmed flight, car rental and hotel arrangements and save them under 'Reservations.' You can also access this information offline so you don't get lost on the way from the airport to the hotel. The only downside is that the email must be a Gmail account.
Google posted this cool video on YouTube so you can see Google Trips in action.
Yahoo has a similar app, called Radar - Travel Smart, that requires a Yahoo account. However, based on the description it doesn't have planned out itineraries or offline access. Airbnb will be releasing a travel app too.
Sitata Travel Safe is a great app for keeping you safe when you're in an unfamiliar place. It monitors things like disease outbreaks, civil protests, extreme weather conditions and anything major that could ruin your travel plans, or put you in harm's way. Like Google Trips, its features are available offline also.