12 Google Shortcuts Every Traveler Should Know

Sheila at Geeky Traveller noted the other day that “Google could put out toilet paper and I’d use it.” Because the fact is: Google rules.

But did you know the plain ol’ Google search box you use every day is good for a whole lot more than you’re likely asking of it? Forget going to ten different sites to get your travel info quickly. Just Google it!

Internet Cafe Traveler
© Delgoff.

Here are twelve essential Google travel shortcuts you might have missed:

#1: Get Local Weather

Type: “weather [city name or zip/postal code]”

Example: “weather 02818″ or “weather london”

Google Shortcut: Weather

#2: Check Flight Status

Google automagically pulls flight data from FlightStats.com. All you have to do is enter the flight number.

Type: [flight name and/or number]

Example: “aa123″ or “united 959″

Google Shortcut: Flight Status

#3: Currency Converter

Type: “[amount] [first currency] to [second currency]”

Example: “1000 usd to euro”

Google Shortcut: Currency US Dollars to Euros

… or:

“500 yen to pesos”

Google Shortcut: Currency (Yen to Pesos)

#4: Find the Local Time Anywhere

Type: “time [city/state/province/country]”

Example: “time tokyo”

Google Shortcut: Time

#5: Identify People, Foreign Objects, and More

A great tip from Lifehacker:

Google Image search results show you instead of tell you about a word. Don’t know what jicama looks like? Not sure if the person named “Priti” who you’re emailing with is a woman or a man? Spanish rusty and you forgot what “corazon” is? Pop your term into Google Image Search (or type image jicama into the regular search box) to see what your term’s about.

A while back, someone told me of a fruit I’d never heard of called “rambutan”. Plugging the phrase into Google image search revealed that it’s a bright red, quirky looking fruit that’s not likely indigenous to the U.S.:

Google Shortcut: Identify Peope, Foreign Objects, and More

#6: View Airport Conditions

Type: “[airport name/code] airport”

Example: “logan airport”

Google Shortcut: Airport Status and Conditions

#7: Convert Temperatures

Type: “[temperature] [C/F] to [F/C]”

Example: “40 C to F”

Google Shortcut: Temperature

#8: Convert Distances

Type: “[value] [first distance unit] to [second distance unit]”

Example: “400 kilometers to miles”

Google Shortcut: Distance

#9: Convert Driving Speeds

Type: “[value] [first distance unit] to [second distance unit]”

Example: “70 kph to mph”

Google Shortcut: Speed

#10: Find a Phone Number

Find a Person:

Type: “[person's name], [city or zip/postal code]”

Example: “john smith, london”

Google Shortcut: Personal Phone Number

Find a Business:

Type: “[business name or type], [city or zip/postal code]”

Example: “apple store, manhattan”

Google Shortcut: Business Phone Number

#11: Find Local Food and Restaurants

Type: “[food type], [city or zip code/postal code]”

Example: “pizza, london e1″

Google Shortcut: Food

#12: Track Your Packages

Wondering where that extra pack of socks Mom was supposed to forward you is?

Type: [any USPS, UPS, or FedEx tracking number]

Example: 706479610009807

Google Shortcut: Track Packages

Voilà! No longer must you login to each shipping carrier’s official website.

Bonus: Google Translator

Google’s online language translation service is fast, free and a breeze to use.

For example, asking Google to convert Vagabondish’s “What We’re About” statement:

Vagabondish is an online magazine that discusses offbeat backpacking and travel news, advice, how-to tips and tall tales from around the world.

… to Russian reveals:

Vagabondish Это онлайновый журнал, что обсуждает offbeat backpacking и новости, советы, как на советы и высотных сказки из разных стран мира.

Sure, it’s not perfect but if you’re in a pinch a thousand miles from home, it beats paying $300 for Rosetta Stone software.

What other Google shortcuts or hacks do you use in your travels? Feel free to share them with us in the comments below!

25 Responses

  1. Meredith

    Great list! I was just trying to remember how to use Google to convert currency this afternoon. It’s nice to have this all in one place… I’ll be referring back!

    Reply
  2. Mike Richard
    Mike

    Meredith + Stacy: Thanks! Most people probably already know about many of these but I thought it might provide a helpful “cheat sheet” for travelers.

    Reply
  3. Amanda

    Great post. I use heaps of these already but was pretty impressed with the package tracking idea!!!! Now I’m trying to think of other random numbers that Google might be clever enough to convert into what I’m really looking for. Hmm …

    Reply
  4. walter

    you can use “define:” in front of any word or term and you will find definitions. E.G.: http://www.google.com/search?q=define%3Arainforest

    Keep track of your travels with your very own google map: goto maps.google.com and go to the tab “My Maps”.

    On google maps, you can get driving directions by typing “city1 to city2″: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=amsterdam+to+paris

    On google finance you can find the trends for currency conversions for e.g. USD to EUR (you will also get useful news links explaining why exchange rates changed): http://finance.google.com/finance?q=EURUSD

    You can use “location:” in front of your search to localize it

    You can find easy flight info by typing “city1 to city2″ in normal google: http://www.google.com/search?q=amsterdam+to+new+york

    for gmail users: use searches like “label:labelname” or “is:unread”. More tips here: http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=7190

    There, that should keep you busy for now ;)

    Reply
  5. philip

    Good article.
    I found a way myself to do a quick translation from google search, type:

    translate [word] to [language]

    example:

    translate car to german

    Reply
  6. Jenni

    Some results return are not exactly correct in my area but your tutorial is really useful.

    Thank you

    Reply
  7. todd

    Whenever I travel abroad, Google Translate is my best friend. It came in super handy on a recent visit to Kiev, Ukraine. English speaking folks (in my experience) were few and far between, and being able to learn a few quick phrases on the fly beyond the basics is beyond helpful.

    Reply

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