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Time travels with your cat: How Google sees your vacation plans
Search engine asks bizarre travel questions. We try to answer them
Why bother researching answers to vacation questions when you can Google them, right?
In fact, why bother even coming up with the questions in the first place when Google is happy to pose them for you.
Simply start typing “How to travel...” into the search engine and witness it trying to guess what you were about to ask.
Sadly, like a wrinkled sage pondering life’s deepest meanings, a philosopher surrounded by dusty tomes in the vaults of some great library, or a clerk manning an airport help desk, Google knows all the questions, but rarely has any definitive responses.
Thankfully, we're on hand to answer everything you never knew you wanted to know about travel and didn’t even think about asking until Google asked on your behalf.
1. How to travel for free
The fact that this query regularly tops Google’s “how-to” list suggests there’s a lot of tightwads out there. The simple answer is, of course: walk.
If you want to go beyond the end of your street, try volunteering. Some charities pay the accommodation and airfares of earnest souls hoping to make the world a better place.
This is fine if your definition of “free” includes digging hospital latrines or hauling supplies through leech-infested swamps.
But if you think being up the armpits in other people’s filth and allowing parasitic creatures to drain your lifeblood is a price worth paying for free travel, why not simply get a job as cabin crew?
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2. How to travel to Cuba
A question clearly posed by U.S. citizens wary of breaching laws that might forbid them from enjoying the delights of Fidel Castro’s fiefdom.
We don't endorse illegal behavior, but if U.S. passport-holders feel unable to resist the lure of fine cigars and crumbling communism, they should simply fly to Jamaica, Mexico or the Bahamas, from where it’s a short hop to Havana.
Alternatively, prospective visitors might wait around to see if Barack Obama decides to take up Raul Castro's most recent offer at reconciliation. Of course, they'll likely have to wait until the Caribbean -- or at least Florida's electoral power -- freezes over.
3. How to travel Europe cheap
There’s good news for Europe-bound skinflints. Thanks to a spiraling debt crisis that is destroying the lives of millions of Europeans, you’ll soon be able to cash in on other people’s desperation.
Better still, the crisis is focused on the best vacation spots.
You want to travel to Greece, Spain and Italy -- Greece, Spain and Italy wants your tourist dollars. Germany doesn’t need your money -- you don’t need Germany.
Just remember to drop your conscience a postcard after you’ve stiffed the waiter out of the tip he was relying on to feed his wife and kids.
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4. How to travel with a suit
We assume “suit” to refer to clothing rather than a corporate drone.
To keep the wrinkles out of your pinstripe you can either try wearing it, packing it into a special bag, or rolling it up and stowing it in your suitcase.
If you do find yourself on the road with a corporate drone, try alleviating boredom with some of the stronger beverages from the trolley.
Don’t go crazy though, otherwise you’ll find yourself traveling with another kind of suit: a legal one that involves court appearances and hefty fines.
5. How to travel with a cat
We assume “cat” refers to an animal rather than a jazz-bearded hipster in a pork-pie hat.
Felines aren’t the easiest of traveling companions, but if you’ve got to take your tabby or tortoiseshell on the road, best confine them to some kind of specialized carrier. Administer food, water, motion sickness pills and words of comfort as required.
The same will work for hipsters.
6. How to travel with a baby
Other people’s screaming, stinky babies are the stuff of nightmares for long-haul air travelers.
But taking your own infant on an aircraft can open the door to an unexpected world of frequent flier privileges.
Families with young kids are usually ushered onto aircraft ahead of the riffraff and get priority on bulkhead seats.
Here offspring can be plopped into crib-style bassinets and lulled asleep by jet engine white noise. This allows exhausted parents to enjoy a hot meal, a movie and a rare moment of peace.
And when the baby starts bawling they finally get payback for all those pre-parenthood flights when they were kept awake by noisy neighbors.
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7. How to travel light
With more airlines charging for luggage, traveling light can save you money as well as the effort of dragging a your 18-piece set of Louis Vuitton suitcases along the Monte Carlo waterfront.
Top tips include using a smaller bag, ruthlessly purging any non-essentials and only taking items that you can’t buy at your destination.
Don’t forget to pack your dignity, however. Dressing head-to-toe in lightweight polyester and using a travel towel the size of bus ticket will shed a kilo or two, but you’ll look like a fool.
8. How to travel to North Korea
Here’s a question rarely posed in South Korea, especially during the days when Kim Jong-Il was abducting southern talent to improve his risible movie-making efforts.
For travelers seeking to enter North Korea without first being subjected to a dose of chloroform, it’s a simple enough process involving a Beijing-based tour company and a wedge of cash.
This being a Stalinist state, opportunities for independent travel are few. Most of what you see will be orchestrated by paranoid government stooges.
For a glimpse of the real North Korea, you will have to put up with the indignity of being smuggled across the border from China (and whatever other indignities may or may not be involved when Bill Clinton is later called in to rescue you).
9. How to travel at the speed of light
This isn’t yet possible beyond the realms of science fiction. Nor is it advisable.
The conventional rules of physics decree that the faster an object travels, the greater its mass.
A person traveling at the speed of light would therefore become incredibly heavy and dense.
And then money-grabbing airlines would make them pay for two seats.
10. How to travel back in time
Are people really Googling this? People intelligent enough to switch on a computer, open a browser and type?
Do they actually believe time travel might casually have been invented (and the instructions posted on the Internet) while they weren’t paying attention?
If it was possible to travel back in time these people would doubtless already know about it.
Their dim-witted future selves would have sought them out in the past to tell them what lies ahead.
This, in turn, would trigger a complicated quantum paradox, sucking them into a hole in the space-time continuum and spitting them out on the other side of the universe.
Let’s see them Google their way out of that.
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