Author Archives: Richard Holden

Tips for holiday travel and beyond

While many people will celebrate the holidays at home this year, 40 percent of Americans are still planning to travel. Here are a few ways Google can help you make informed travel decisions or revisit trips from holidays past.

Stay up to date on the latest travel information

When you search on Google for information about hotels, flights or things to do, check to see if there’s a COVID-19 travel advisory or restriction for your destination. If there are no restrictions, you can see indicators for travel reopening, like the percentage of flights operating or hotels with availability, directly in your Search results. On google.com/travel you can also see trends for flight and hotel availability over the past six months, as well as links to local resources, like the number of COVID-19 cases in the area.

Book accommodation confidently

Earlier this year we added a hotel “Free cancellation” filter on Search and google.com/travel to help you easily find properties with a refundable rate. In addition to refundable rates, many hotels and vacation rentals are taking additional measures to ensure the safety of guests in response to COVID-19. Now when you search for a place to stay on google.com/travel and view a specific property, you may see a tip when additional health and safety precautions, like enhanced cleaning, are being taken. Tap on the “About” tab to see the full list.

On google.com/travel on the hotels tab you see the Kimpton Brice Hotel overview with price and availability information. When you scroll down you see a badge indicating there are additional health & safety attributes. On a click, you are taken to the "About" tab where you see multiple attributes including enhanced cleaning, minimized contact, physical distancing, personal protection and food safety.


We’re working with hotels and vacation rental providers, as well as industry associations, to add more health and safety information to the results you see. If you’re a hotel owner, verify your business using Google My Business, and let guests know what measures you’re taking to keep them safe by adding health and safety attributes to your Business Profile. 

See local COVID-19 information 

If you’re planning to visit a new city, you can use the COVID layer in Google Maps to quickly get information about COVID-19 cases in the area—so you can make more informed decisions about where to go and what to do. 

Stay informed on the road

Once you’re headed out on your trip, you can use Google Maps to see helpful safety alerts along the way. If you’re driving, we’ll notify you about COVID-19 checkpoints and restrictions along your route, like when crossing national borders. If you plan to take public transportation, we’ll show you alerts from local transit agencies, so you can quickly know if government mandates impact transit services or require you to wear a mask while riding the bus, subway, or train.

Get nostalgic & relive past trips

For those not traveling this holiday season, you can use new features in Google Maps or Google Photos to take a walk down memory lane. If you’re using Maps on Android, you can soon access the new “Trips” tab in Timeline to see a summary of your past vacations, along with information about the places you visited, the total kilometers traveled, and the modes of transportation you used. If you choose to turn on your Location History setting, you can use Trips in Timeline as a handy tool if you’re feeling nostalgic or want to share vacation recommendations with friends or family. 

In Google Maps, tap on the Trips tab on your Timeline to see trips recently taken. Tap on the first one to France and scroll through places you've visited and destinations you've been to.

You can also see and share your past trip itineraries including hotels, restaurants and other places you’ve received reservation confirmations for in your Gmail by going togoogle.com/travel and tapping on the “Trips” tab. 

In Google Photos, you can already see photos grouped by location with theinteractive map view. In the coming weeks, we’re bringing Timeline to the Photos map view, so you can easily see the paths you took on a certain day alongside your photos—whether you captured that epic shot while hiking through Yellowstone, or while driving down the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. You can choose to show or hide your Timeline from your map view's settings in Photos at any time.

If you will be traveling over the holidays, here’s a handy checklist to help you make informed decisions as you plan.

There are 4 phones showing different ways to help you plan travel over the holidays. 1) Search for something like "Hotels in Toronto" and you see a travel restriction warning. 2) Search for "things do in Austin" and you see reopening travel trends for Austin. 3) You can use a "free cancellation" filter for hotels 4) See health & safety attributes on the hotels tab at google.com/travel.

Make travel decisions with confidence

As some countries around the world begin to reopen this summer, we’re seeing more searches for places to go on vacation. Because the impact of COVID-19 on destinations can vary, it’s important to stay up to date on the latest travel-related information for places you may want to visit. If you’re looking to travel soon, here are a few updates to help you make travel decisions with confidence.

Get travel related updates about a destination

When you search on Google for information like hotels, flights or things to do, you already see when there’s a COVID-19 travel advisory or restriction for your destination. And, we recently introduced driving alerts to notify you about COVID-19 checkpoints and restrictions along your route in Google Maps. As restrictions and advisories begin to lift, we’re adding information about travel resuming in a specific destination on Google Search. In the next week, you’ll  see the percentage of open hotels with availability and flights operating at the city or county level based on Google Flights and Hotels data from the previous week.

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    Travel trends including flights operating and open hotels with availability on Google 

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. Links to additional local resources, including the number of COVID-19 cases, are provided as well.

Find hotels and vacation rentals with refundable rates

Due to the uncertainty around COVID-19, people often want flexibility when making travel plans. Many hotels and vacation rentals now offer free cancellation to give travelers more confidence when planning trips. Search for a hotel, and later this month a vacation rental, on google.com/travel and filter to see only rooms or properties with free cancellation policies. Tap on a specific listing to see more details. 

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        Free cancellation filter for hotels

The uncertainty of COVID-19 makes it hard to navigate travel decisions. We’ll continue to share the most relevant information so you can make informed decisions and travel safely when the time comes. If you do have travel plans coming up, here are tips from the CDC to help keep you and those around you safe while on the road.

Helping COVID-19 responders find hotels

Meghan is an Intensive Care Unit nurse treating coronavirus patients in Indiana, and she’s been staying at a Hilton hotel with special accommodations for COVID-19 responders. As she explains, "Reducing the risk of bringing something home to my family has made a huge difference in my peace of mind.” 

Across the Atlantic Ocean, in London, Ruby is in a similar situation. She’s a doctor who’s also treating coronavirus patients. "I was really worried about being in the same space as my family,” says Ruby. “I wanted to find a hotel nearby that could host me, but it was difficult to find one.” 

Healthcare professionals, first responders and other essential workers like Meghan and Ruby can now find hotels with special policies for COVID-19 responders—like free or discounted rooms—using Google Search or Maps. For example, they can search for “hotels for essential workers in New York” or “hotels in New York” and narrow the results using a new filter for “COVID-19 responder rooms.”

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                                COVID-19 responder hotel room results on Google Search

On Google Maps and google.com/travel, a tip will appear at the top of the results if hotels in the area have a special policy for frontline workers. As on Google Search, there’s a new filter for COVID-19 responder rooms, which will show participating hotels. COVID-19 responders can then call the hotel directly to learn more about its policies and book.

To keep track of which properties are offering special accommodations, we’re working with partners including Choice Hotels International, Hilton, and IHG Hotels & Resorts, as well as the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Our initial efforts have focused on the United States and United Kingdom, and we hope to launch global coverage as soon as possible.

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Filter and and see hotels with COVID-19 responder accommodations on Google Maps

If you’re a hotel owner and have discounts or special accommodations for frontline or essential workers, let us know by signing into Google My Business and adding the attribute to your Business Profile, or get help from Google My Business support. 

Thank you to all the frontline, medical and essential workers who are helping others during this time and to the hotels hosting these heroes. We hope these updates make it easier and less stressful to find and book hotels if you need to right now.

Stay updated on travel advisories and airline policies


As the spread of COVID-19 continues, we’re seeing more searches for travel-related information—like travel advisories and trip cancellation policies—so we’re making some changes this week to help you find this information faster.


Stay up to date on travel advisories

When you search on Google for information like flights, hotels, or things to do you’ll start seeing COVID-19 related travel advisories or restrictions for your destination, with links to relevant information from your country’s travel authority when possible. This information will appear on the search results page, at the top of google.com/travel, and in Google Maps when you search for hotels. 


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Understanding airline policies for flight changes and cancellations

In response to COVID-19, many airlines have adjusted change fee and cancellation policies. When you search on Google for flights with a specific airline or go to Google Flights, we’ll direct you to our Help Center article with more information on airline policies. These policies may change, so be sure to click through to the airline’s website for the latest information.


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We hope these resources help you stay safe and make the best decisions about travel plans. We'll continue to work on ways to help as the COVID-19 situation evolves.