We all know how to use Google and its products, there are however some features that are very useful indeed while travelling, and not everybody is familiar with them. Here’s the 20 most useful ones.
They’re not in a specific order, because their importance depends on what you are or are not yet familiar with. I’m not adding links to every specific feature, product or user guide. If you’re not familiar with them I thought you could.. ahem..do a Google search!
1) Hotels/Hostels websites after checked reviews on Tripadvisor, Hotels.com, etc.
Most hotels and hostels have a website nowadays. After checking reviews from previous customers on Tripadvisor or any other comparison hotel website, type the name of the hotel in Google to find the original website and book directly with them. It will save you the comparison websites’ commission (and some of them do take a big cut!)
2) Airline Travel Info
Your family wants to know if your plane has landed? Meeting up your travel buddy at the airport? Just type the flight number in the search box (e.g. KE 526)
3) Currency Conversion
How much is 1000 Indonesian rupiahs again? just type in the search box unit + currency + to + destination currency (e.g. 1000 IDR to USD)
Is it going to be hot in your next destination? No need to consult any weather forecast website. Just type : destination weather (e.g. Singapore weather)
What’s the time back home again? Will I wke them up if I call (Skype of course) them? Type city name plus time (e.g. New York time)
6) Unit Conversion
Confused between meters, inches, stones, kilos liters, gallons and pints? First of all watch those pints!:) Then type in the search box unit + measure + to + new measure (e.g. 10 pints to liters)
7) Custom search engine
How about you create your own search engine, so that when you enter a certain keyword it will fish results only from the websites you’ve chosen? Check out a couple of test examples: the Search Engine, and the one.
8) Local Search
Pizza in Bangkok? Dentist in Lima? Enter business and location.
The best part about Google maps (on top of using it as a normal map but finding the address just typing it, get driving directions, have a satellite view and in some destinations even a street view) is that you can create your own maps and mash ups, show your itinerary to your friends, and share point of interests.
10) Google Earth
A traveller delight. Want to have a preview of the place you’re going? Fly over the places you’ve been? Or go home and explore your neighborhood for a few minutes? You can create “trips”, pin location. share them, and see pics taken in a certain location (and add yours of course).
11) Blog search
A great way to know what to do in a place, especially if you’re looking for off-the-beaten-track things to do, is to check out what fellow travellers did in that place. Blog Search will limit results to blogs and blog posts.
12) Google Docs
Don’t want to bring your laptop everywhere you go? Want to avoid the risk of losing any document? All your docs are stored online, so you can access from any public PC.
13) Google Talk
Yes there are many chat systems, and with Skype apart from PC to PC voice calls you can also call normal phones, one of the advantages of Gtalk is having everything in one place, thanks to the integration with iGoogle but especially with:
A world on its own. Integrated chat, labels instead of folders, great spam management and sooo much space. Almost redundant to say more.
Again a lot of similar (probably even better) services are available, like Flickr. Picasa’s advantage in this case is the integration with all the other services in this list. For example once you have a new album up you can invite your friends to enjoy it, directly from Picasa, but using your Gmail address book (and if your friends want to they can have automated updates).
Once you’ve taken that amazing video, where else would you want to share it with your friends and/or the entire world?
17) Google Reader
Not too much time to read all your favourites websites and blog when flashpacking around huh? RSS readers are the answer. Just subscribe to the RSS feeds of the website/blog. You could start for example by subscribing to this blog! Again many readers out there, but with Google Reader you have integration with your Gmail contacts, so you can share your feeds or read theirs (if it’s a very rainy day).
You know you want to. Share your travelling experience with your friends, family nd the rest of the world. Many Blogging platforms out there; Bloggers is probably one of the easier to use and update if you dont have much time to spend online (you can even post from your mobile, on the go!).
Once you’re done exploring all the above Google services and products, how about you put the ones you want to see everytime you connect to Internet on your Google start page? With iGoogle and its gadget you can have them all in one page. Or add more gadgets. Or even create your own and send it to your friends to put on their iGoogle.
20) Your Google feature or product?
We leave this one blank. There are for sure many other ways to use Google or its products in a very useful way when travelling. So we’d like to hear your less common way to use Google (and its products) when travelling.
Maybe the next version of this post will be 50 less common ways to use Google (and its products) when travelling?