Travel planning can be exciting, inspiring, and every bit as fun as the trip itself. But it can also be quite ”¦ tedious. Unless you’re a real “devil may care” traveler, your trip likely involves some level of planning. And that often means researching your destination on site A, scoping pics on site B, reviewing maps and the general location on site C, booking on site ”¦ OK, OK, we get it.
Windows 8 takes the headache out of traditional web search with purpose-built apps. In particular, the newly reswizzled Bing Travel app (bundled free with Microsoft’s latest OS) takes cues from Pinterest and the current “let’s put pretty pictures first” school of interface design. The result (like on the Bing Travel website) is a boatload of sleek, sexy visual appeal by way of big, bold photos of far-flung destinations and drool-worthy panoramas of the world’s most popular sites and cities.
After poking around under the hood of the new app, I found an awful lot to love. In particular, the ability to …
Research Your Destination
Maybe you don’t know where you’re headed next or maybe you’re happy to daydream of all the places you could be heading next. Either way, the app’s main page (like the Bing homepage) opens to a stunning, full-screen photo of a single, rotating “Featured” destination. Or you can opt to browse their extensive list of other destinations around the world for inspiration.
Drilling down to a specific destination brings up a wealth of concise, but essential info such as weather, real-time currency conversion, nearby cities you probably hadn’t even considered, panoramas, maps, and more. Every destination becomes an uber-interactive travel guide with nearly every piece of vital info at your fingertips, mere taps away.
Review the Latest Travel Articles + News
If you’d rather not spend hours searching forums, crowd-sourced sites with questionable reviews, or poorly written blog posts, Bing provides an extensive selection of travel articles from the web’s most trusted sources. Articles and news from heavy hitters such as Associated Press, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, and Frommer’s (to name a few) are all syndicated for reading directly within the app.
… or Peruse the Best Travel Websites
Know what you like but not sure where you wanna head next? The Bing Travel app presents nearly 100 of the best, hand-picked travel websites, neatly categorized by interest. Search by: Food + Wine, Tours + Cruises, Road Trips, Sustainable Travel, and more.
Pick (and Save) Your Favorites
The “Favorites” feature allows you to bookmark restaurants, articles, and destinations to easily recall later. Your selections are all pinned to the app’s homepage which quickly becomes a personalized visual dreamboard of every hotspot related to your upcoming trip.
Discover Nearby Destinations
While traveling, you can hit up the app’s “Destinations Near Your Location” feature to find local restaurants, landmarks, and other POIs near you. Nearby points of interest are displayed in a clear visual grid, arranged by distance from your current location.
Book Flights + Hotels
Made up your mind already? Great! It’s likely no surprise that you can book flights and hotels directly from within the app. Like the Bing Travel website, results are pulled from Kayak (a site we’ve used and loved for years), but you’re also given the option to book from third party websites such as Orbitz and Expedia. Naturally, flight results are easily sorted by price, number of stops, airline name, or departure time; while hotels can be reviewed according to price, class, or amenities.
The entire booking process is similar to what you’d experience on the actual Bing Travel website, but I find the app is more user-friendly, touch-friendly, and just plain sexy.
While in transit, you can also keep an eye on your flight status directly through the app. You can check arrival times, departure times, and terminal & gate information as well.
The Bottom Line
Great. Sooo ”¦ why should you care about any of the above? Especially when you can find all of this information elsewhere on hundreds — nay, thousands — of other websites. Because, frankly, you don’t want to waste time searching hundreds — nay, thousands — of other websites. The Bing Travel app does the work for you.
Plus, it’s fast, sleek, responsive and just plain beautiful because the streamlined interface is perfectly optimized for the tablet experience. It strips away all the “white noise” of a traditional web browser — ads, (not so-) related links, auto-play videos, etc. — in favor of presenting you with only the essential information you need.
With a full feature set allowing you to research, plan, and book every aspect of your travels, the latest Bing Travel app could well be the only jump point you need for planning your next trip.
Disclosure: This post is part of a paid advertising campaign, but all views expressed above honestly and accurately reflect the opinions of the author.