news 1 month ago

Google’s new features make traveling during the pandemic easier

BGR — Jacob Siegal
  • Google is rolling out new features to keep travelers safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Advisories and restrictions on travel are lifting, and so Google will let you know how many hotels are open and how many flights are operating at your destination of choice.
  • Google will also let users filter hotels and vacation rentals by cancellation policies so that travelers can make sure they will be able to cancel for free if necessary.

Having failed to contain the novel coronavirus, Americans are attempting to go about their lives as tens of thousands of people across the US test positive for COVID-19 every day. Five months into this pandemic, many Americans have to get up and go to work every day, while others are just desperate to get out of their houses for a long weekend after avoiding the outside world for much of the spring and the summer. In order to make traveling safer, Google is rolling out a set of features that should make the prospect of going on a trip slightly less terrifying.

Previously, Google introduced notifications for travel advisories and restrictions when searching for hotels, flights, or activities, as well as driving alerts to keep you informed about COVID-19 checkpoints on your route.

Now that advisories and restrictions are beginning to lift, Google is adding information to its Search site about travel resuming in those areas. When you search for a destination, Google will let you know the percentage of open hotels with availability as well as how many flights are operating at the city and county level.

“When you visit google.com/travel and tap on a trip you’re planning, or search for hotels and things to do, you’ll now see trendlines for hotel and flight availability,” says Richard Holden, VP of Product Management. “Links to additional local resources, including the number of COVID-19 cases, are provided as well.”

Additionally, with so much uncertainly surrounding virtually everything this year, Google added a new filter that will let you know if a hotel or vacation rental property offers free cancellations. Later this month, when you search for a hotel or rental, you will be able to filter them so you only see results with free cancellation policies. No one knows what the country is going to look like in a week, much less in two or three months, so booking a room without any guarantee that you can get your money back is not the safest or smartest move right now.

If you are thinking about traveling, whether out of necessity or just to avoid going stir-crazy, be sure to read up on the state you plan on visiting before you book any flights or hotels. At the end of July, the federal government released a list of 21 states that it designated as coronavirus “red zones,” and cases are still frighteningly high in many of those states, including Florida, Texas, California, and others throughout the South and West.

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