Those of you planning your next getaway can get a helping hand from Microsoft's Windows 8 Travel app.
Introduced in the Windows 8 Release Preview, the Travel app conjures up photos, articles, and loads of other data on vacation spots throughout the world. You can use the app to find the perfect paradise or look up information if you already know where you're going.
You can also get details on airports, hotels, and restaurants, and even book your air travel and make your hotel reservations by going through the app itself. Here's a quick look at how to use the app to map out your next trip:
- From the Start screen in the Windows 8 Release Preview, click on the tile for Travel.
- The Travel app opens to reveal the featured destination. Scroll to the right to see more destinations, panoramic photos of different locations, and various travel articles.
- You can browse through the different featured destinations until you find one that strikes your fancy. Or you can search for a specific destination if you already have one in mind.
- Let's say you're planning a trip to Paris. Hold down the Windows key and press Q to display the Search bar. In the search field, type Paris. Under the search field, Paris, France, appears as the suggested destination. Click on the result for Paris, France.
- The app displays details on Paris. Click anywhere on the screen to turn off the search bar. Scroll to the right to see the introduction, a map, currency information, and a link to book a flight.
- Click on the Find flights option. In the Flights box, click in the From field. The first time you do this, the app asks if you want to turn on location services and allow Travel to use your location. If you're comfortable turning on location services, click on Allow.
- In the From field, click on the round icon to let the app consider all airports in and around your vicinity, or delete the suggestion and type the name or code for your closest airport. Then select the name of the airport that matches your name or code. Enter a departure date, return date, cabin type, and number of passengers. Click Search flights.
- A flight information screen appears showing you all the flights matching your dates, along with ticket price, airline, departure and arrival times, flight duration, and number of stopovers. Click on a specific flight to view more details.
- Click on the Book button if you wish to book the flight, which you can do online through the Web site of the airline or a third-party travel partner. Internet Explorer then pops up for you to book the flight.
- To return to the Travel app, move your mouse to the upper left hot corner and click on the app's thumbnail. Back in the app, click on the Back button to return to each previous screen until you reach the information page on Paris.
- Scroll to the right past the photos, panoramas, and attractions until you see the Hotels section. Click on the Find Hotels option. Enter the check-in and check-out dates, the number of rooms, and the number of guests. Click on the Search Hotels option.
- A hotel information screen appears showing you all the suggested hotels matching your dates, along with price, rating, and amenities. Click on a specific hotel to view more details. Another screen opens to display a description of the hotel, a map of its location, and photos.
- Click on the Book button if you wish to make a reservation, which you can do online through a third-party Web site. Internet Explorer again opens for you to book the hotel.
- Move your mouse to the upper left hot corner and click on the thumbnail for the Travel app to return to the app. Click on the Back button to return to each previous screen until you reach the information page on Paris.
- You can now scroll left and right to view other information on Paris, including attractions, photos, restaurants, and guides.
Microsoft's Windows 8 Metro apps, or app previews, have been decidedly hit-and-miss so far. But the Travel app is well-designed and easy to use. And it provides a wealth of information to help you plan and arrange all the details for your next well-earned vacation.