Taking Advantage of Google Travel

There isn’t much that Google can’t do. For travelers exploring the U.S. or abroad, learning how to capitalize on Google Travel’s “behind-the-screens” perks can come in handy. From planning the vacation to sharing itineraries with travel mates to navigating foreign streets, these features can help you get by when wandering new places, especially for millennials who are big users of the technology.

Save Maps for Offline Use
No need for paper maps. One of the least-known features of Google Maps is the ability to store maps for when you don’t have Internet access. Carry around a digital map of your destination on your phone when on the go. However, navigation and search will not work when using a map offline.

To do this, log into Google Maps on your phone. Search for the place where you’d like to save an offline map, like Chicago. Pan and zoom to adjust the area of the map to save for offline use. (If you select an area too large, the app will tell you.) Pull up the place info sheet that appears at the bottom of the screen, and touch “Save map to use offline.” Touch “Save.”

Then, to view your saved map, tap the person icon that appears to the right of the search box on google Maps. Scroll down to view your saved places and offline maps.

Create a Packing Checklist
Avoid that ominous gut sensation of “I feel like I’m missing something” by using Google Keep to create a checklist of items to pack. On the platform, you can organize notes, lists and photos. All notes are automatically stored in Drive, and you can quickly add or edit the list from your phone, computer, tablet or surface.

Store Travel Documents
Scan and save images of essential travel documents, such as a boarding pass, tickets or even a passport to a folder in Google Drive. Then if you lose them, you can still access the items via Google Drive.

The most efficient way to do this is by installing the Google Drive mobile app on your smartphone. Locate your document in the Google Drive app, tap the “i” in a circle next to the folder, then move the slider for “Keep on this device” to the “ON” position. Caveat: If you save sensitive data to the phone, make sure you have a lock or passwords to protect it.

Translate Languages
When visiting a foreign country, you can get by with two apps that will serve as your translators: Google Translate and Word Lens.

Google Translate converts spoken, typed and photographed text between languages. For instance, type a phrase in Italian, like “Piacere,” and the English translation of “It is nice to meet you” will appear. You may download languages for offline use, which, like the saved digital maps, can be very useful when you don’t have Internet access.

Word Lens is another helpful resource (It was acquired by Google in May 2014). The platform displays translated text in real time. Point your phone at text in one language, and the translated words will appear on your phone. This comes in handy when trying to understand menus and signs. Although the translation isn’t always perfect, it’s usually good enough.

Back-Up and Share Photos
Don’t want to lose those priceless pictures? Automatically back-up your photos with the Google+ app. To do this, open the Google+ app on your phone, tap the Menu button (on iOS, the menu button looks like three horizontal lines). Tap the sprocket icon to access settings. Press the “Camera and Photos,” then tap “Auto Backup.” Make sure the slide set to “ON.”

If your phone runs out of storage, you can delete photos from your camera roll once you’ve saved them to Google+.