Airbnb and Google Maps Introduce New Ways to Save Money/Stay Safe for Summer Travel

Airbnb and Google Maps Introduce New Ways to Save Money/Stay Safe for Summer Travel
Image: Airbnb

If you’re thinking about escaping the humdrum this summer, multiple apps are promoting new features that should make travelling a little easier or safer, but your mileage on each may vary depending on what routes you take, and whether you’re flying solo.

Google Maps announced it had finally introduced a feature to show toll prices for both Android and iOS users. The toll prices are available on just 2,000 roads in the U.S., Japan, and Indonesia, though the company promised more countries “coming soon.”

Gif: GoogleGif: Google

The app shows the estimated price based on whether you have a toll pass or not, the day of the week, and the time you’re expected to pass through the toll. You’ll have to go into the app’s settings to change whether it shows you the price with or without a toll pass. The new feature was originally announced back in April. There’s likely a few features of Google Maps that might make life easier if you’re planning on travel this summer.

When we tried the app, we found that it showed toll prices for some roads leading from our office in New York City, but not others. The app showed the toll price for the Lincoln Tunnel going west toward Pennsylvania. It did not offer toll prices if you decide to take the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge when travelling north through the Bronx. Gizmodo reached out to Google to ask whether there was a list of which roads were included, but we did not immediately hear back.

Airbnb also announced new app features on Monday for solo travellers. When booking, the app can send a trusted contact the location and itinerary for where you’re staying. For those who book as a solo guest, the app promotes a “one-touch” ability to share the date of check-in, check-out, and address of the property.

In addition, the app should offer you suggestions for questions you can ask hosts after a reservation is confirmed. The prompts show up in the text, and include questions about the neighbourhood, whether there will be other people at the location, and whether there will be help available during the stay.

It accompanies a rash of people who have decided to travel alone in recent years, likely due to the extended pandemic quarantines. The company’s news post said that 26% of all nights booked in 2021 were from people going solo, while over 50% of nights booked for long-term stays in the first quarter of this year were also going alone.

So with that growth of travellers and the rash of Airbnb listings (that reportedly outnumber apartments in New York City) these features could be more useful. A Twitter user who goes by @foxytaughtyou wrote on Sunday that she and a friend stayed in a Philadelphia Airbnb that had hidden cameras posted around the bedroom and bathroom. The user claimed when they tried to contact the hosts went unanswered. In further posts, the user claimed the listing was taken down. A company spokesperson told the Independent that they had suspended the host and removed the listing while investigating the report.

Though that does leave the question why this safety feature is only available to solo travellers. When asked if the company has any plans to expand the feature, a spokesperson for Airbnb said “right now, our focus is on developing and improving this feature for solo travellers, and then we’ll consider whether this is a concept we can expand to other types of travellers.”

The feature is initially only available to English-speaking guests, but the company wrote it will introduce the feature in more countries and languages over time, and will eventually expand to entire home listings.

“Our hope is this new product will better equip solo travellers on Airbnb to be more informed travellers by getting their pre-trip questions answered, giving them a better understanding of their surroundings, and informing the important people in their lives about where they will be and for how long,” the company wrote.