Google wants to help you plan your next trip

Google has a long-standing—but somewhat erratic—interest in travel information. (The company bought big-name travel info brands Zagat and Frommer’s in 2011 and 2012, respectively, but later dissolved the Zagat team and sold Frommer’s back to Mr. Frommer.) Now the company is being serious about travel again with Google Trips, a new iOS and Android app.

Trips feels like an attempt to squeeze what was great about paperback travel guides into an app, and make it smarter. The concept reminds me especially of my favorite travel books of yore, Richard Saul Wurman’s concise, map-centric Access guides.

The app includes information on the top 200 cities in the world, suggests stuff to do based on what other people have done, embeds maps (of course), and recommends sites close to other stops on your sightseeing itinerary. Using features akin to TripIt, it also scans your emails and imports your flight, hotel, and restaurant reservations. Oh, and you can download everything you need and use the app without a data connection—a mandatory feature given how much it can cost to use roaming data overseas. 

Here’s Google’s own video overview: