Google adds new features to help with your travel plans in the COVID era

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We all know travel planning right now looks much different from just months ago. And platforms like Google Travel are catching up with the times.

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U.S. travel restrictions vary from state to state, with the number of COVID-19 cases fluctuating on a regular basis. That means the biggest consideration in vacationing is likely where exactly to go — and how to sort through all the destination and travel policies.

Related: Use this Google Maps trick to save money on international trips

Google Travel is releasing several new tools to its search functionality to make the pandemic travel process easier. By pulling together coronavirus data and information on flights and hotels, the search giant wants to position itself as a one-stop destination for travel planning in this new era.

In the coming weeks, Google will roll out features such as local coronavirus case counts, the percentage of flights that are in operation and hotel availability numbers while searching for travel. These are all “travel trends” and will join the existing alerts that Google already offers on its platform.

Related: A guide to the best features of Google Flights 

Google Travel is also adding a new “free cancellation” filter to sort for

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Big Chuck: COVID made trip planning more tricky | Columns

Vacation time was a little different this year. OK, it was a lot different.

I had put in my request for time off at the radio station months ago, at the Dawning of the Era of COVID. As the first week of August got closer, we were heartened when we saw New York’s efforts at crushing the curve paying off and we were able to still take our trip.

But it was a little tricky.

We made the safe and cautious decision to travel only to the one state in the United States that had the best numbers, had the safest conditions and, frankly, a state we could get back into New York from.

We let the data decide where we would vacation. If the “greenest state” was Ohio, then that is where we would spend a week. If it was West Virginia, the same thing. We were determined to be prudent and let the focus of this year’s vacation be more about safety precautions, positive data and pared down expectations.

We studied the graphs and the news reports and watched the CDC website twice a day until the time came to make reservations and plot our journey. So, at the very last moment we settled on the safest, the greenest state in the union at the time of our departure. Where to?

Maine. Yes, Maine.

I’d never been to Maine before, but that was our decision, so off we went, just me and Trish, on our merry way. Kind

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Trying to plan a vacation during COVID? Experts give tips.

Drive or fly? Where to go? What to do? 9Health has tips from two doctors.

DENVER — We are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is still summer and before it’s over maybe you’re trying to plan some kind of vacation. That is extra challenging right now, especially for those that are older or those with underlying health conditions.

9Health talked with Dr. Robert Morris, chief medical officer for Well-Advised, and 9Health Expert Dr. Payal Kohli.

Kohli and Morris shared recommendations and tips for traveling this summer during the pandemic. 

>> Click here to watch the full Facebook Live segment.

When it comes to planning a trip, both Kohli and Morris said it’s all about where, how, and who.

“I ask myself three questions. The first is where are you going? The second is how are you going to go? And then who are you going with?” Kohli said. 

For where, Kholi said to make sure you aren’t traveling to a place with COVID-19 activity that’s going up. Try as much as you can to find something to do within your local community or if you are traveling farther, then go to a state where the COVID-19 cases are going down or are better controlled.

For how, both Morris and Kohli advised driving over flying.

“Personally, I would not fly anywhere at the moment,” Morris said.

“If you’re sitting on a plane for several hours, that’s certainly much higher risk than driving in

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