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5 new ways Google can help you plan a better summer vacation

See how Google's Lens, Maps, and AI-powered Search tools can help you brainstorm vacation ideas, navigate destinations, and show you a good time once you've arrived.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor
Travel illustration
Malte Mueller/Getty Images

As the weather gets warmer and summer beckons, you may begin feeling the travel bug. If you're ready to start planning -- or simply daydreaming about -- your next vacation, Google has rounded up its newest and most helpful tools to help you plan the perfect summer getaway. 

Also: The White House plans to regulate the government's use of AI

Curating a perfect vacation involves a lot of research beforehand to ensure a seamless experience. Google has tools that can help every step of the way, from brainstorming destinations to navigating a city once you've arrived. Keep reading for Google's top tips for planning an ideal vacation using its latest tech.  

1. Use AI-powered search to plan your trip

The first step in planning a vacation is to decide where you want to go. Although this may seem an easy task, there are many things to consider, such as how long you want the trip to be and whether you want a sightseeing vacation or a relaxing one.

The more criteria you add, the harder it becomes to pick a destination. And once you settle on a destination, you have to book the trip and create an itinerary. Google can help with all of it. 

With the AI-powered capabilities of Google's Search Generative Experience (SGE), you can ask Search to plan a trip with the exact criteria you need. Your search can be as broad or as narrow as you need it to be. In its demo, Google offered this example: "Plan me a 3-day trip to Philadelphia that's all about history." The results included a complete itinerary with suggestions of attractions restaurants, flights, hotels, and more that you can export into Gmail, Docs, or Maps, as seen below. 

Google SGE itinerary
Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

To get started with Google's SGE, you can enroll in Search Labs for free. 

2. View curated lists of recommendations in Maps

The lists feature in Maps is super helpful for grouping and saving all the locations you want to visit in one place, and being able to visualize them on the map. To make using lists easier, Google is enabling users to discover more list recommendations in Google Maps on both browser and mobile (Android or iOS). 

Also: Google Maps will soon show you trending restaurants, let you make must-see lists, and more

Users will now be able to look up select cities in the US and Canada on maps and see top curated lists of recommendations from publishers and members of the Maps community, as seen below. 


Google also added trending, top, and hidden gem restaurant lists curated by Google Maps and inspired by what people are doing in those cities. 

3. Build itineraries in Maps 

As mentioned above, lists in Maps are super useful for marking places you want to visit. However, typically, users could not choose how to customize the list order -- until now. 

When you create a list in Maps, you can now customize the list order and rank the different locations however you'd like. For example, you could rank the locations based on most to least favorite, or chronologically to help build your itinerary. 

Also: Google Maps is testing a feature that shows you where to enter a building

To further help customize your lists, Google is adding a way to link content from your social channels, which helps add more context to your list. For example, if you posted a photo from a meal you had at a restaurant, you could now choose to link back to that in your list, helping you remember what experience you had in the future. 

Both of these features will be available in Maps later this month on Android or iOS

4. Translate your surroundings by pointing your camera

Traveling to a country where you don't speak the native language can be exciting yet challenging. To help face the challenge, users can use Google Lens to easily translate text around them on their travels, such as menus, signs, street names, and more. 

To use that feature, click the Lens icon on the Google App (iOS and Android) and select the translate button. This will activate the Translate filter, which -- when pointed at a language -- will auto-detect the language and blend the translated text over the original. 

Pixel 7+ and Samsung Galaxy S24 series device users will be able to take advantage of an even more readily accessible translation experience with a new Translations in Circle to Search feature that will start rolling out in the coming weeks. With the feature, users can instantly translate what is on their screen by pressing the home button or navigation bar and tapping the translate icon.

Also: How to use Circle to Search on Android (and what models support it)

5. Use Google Lens as your pocket tour guide 

If you want more information on what is around you while traveling, you can point your camera toward what you want to learn more about and accompany it with a question to get an answer. For example, if you see a painting you want to know more about, you can snap a picture in Google Lens and ask, "Who painted this? or "What painting is this?"

Also: What are Content Credentials? Here's why Adobe's new AI keeps this metadata front and center

The Lens multi-search feature was recently upgraded to include AI-powered insights that take the experience to the next level with more comprehensive results.  Accessing Lens is easy. Download the Google App (iOS and Android) and click on the Lens camera icon in the search bar. 

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