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Booking a flight? Google can now tell if you should book now or later

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Travelling can be costly and often financially inaccessible. But in a bid to ease the concerns of travellers grappling with the escalating cost of living and travel expenses, Google Flights is introducing three new features to help individuals discover budget-friendly options.

Any thrifty traveller knows the first secret to finding cheap flights is to book in advance. But there’s always the pressing question: is it better to book now or wait for lower prices to come along?

Google Flights’ new trend data will help answer that question. When searching for flights, the site now shows when prices have typically been lowest based on dates and destinations. This will make it easier to know if prices are usually lower two months in advance or closer to takeoff.

The second feature update allows travellers to track prices to a specific destination with an automated notification email if tickets drop significantly. This feature has two notification options between specific dates or “Any dates” which could include deals anytime between three to six months from the date enabled.

The third feature, although it’s only available as part of a pilot program for selected bookings departing from the U.S., might offer travellers an enhanced peace of mind. It’s a “price guarantee” option.

“You’ll see a colourful price guarantee badge, which means we’re especially confident the fare you see today won’t get any lower before departure,” reads the site.

If prices do drop, Google will pay the person the ticket’s difference via Google Pay.

These new features come at a time when many Canadians are voicing apprehension about travelling in 2023 due to financial constraints at home.

In a recent survey by Nanos Research, commissioned by CTV News, 38 per cent of Canadians say they were more likely to spend less on their summer travel plans, an increase from 31 per cent reported in 2015. Additionally, 57 per cent of Canadians say they have no interest in travelling internationally this year.

The poll surveyed 1,055 Canadians over the ages of 18 through phone calls — both land and cell lines — and online between June 29 and June 30.

For some of the Canadians who do end up travelling, the expected downtime is not so restful as this time is usually filled with stress, guilt or work-related activities, another survey found.

Another study conducted by ELVTR, a U.S.-based online education platform, revealed a majority of American and Canadian workers (68 per cent) can’t stop engaging in work-related activities during their vacations.

This could put a damper on any vacations or travel plans as people are spending money to get away from work and routine without succeeding.

The survey, which involved 2,300 workers from Canada and the U.S., found that the recession and economic downturn have had an impact on vacation time for many working Canadians. For instance, 37 per cent of surveyed Canadians are taking less time off, while 20 per cent are unable to take vacations at all due to understaffing following company layoffs.

For those who can take time off and are looking to fly during the winter holiday, Google says the best deals are around early October as prices tend to be the lowest 71 days before departure for trips starting in mid-December. The best window to buy tickets is now 54-78 days before takeoff.

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