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Take a Trip with Wolfram|Alpha

April 12, 2011 —
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Vacation planning season is upon us! Planning a vacation is no easy feat, but Wolfram|Alpha can help. With data on airlines, gas prices, weather, and currency, taking a trip has never been easier.

Let’s say you’re researching locations to take a family vacation and you want to know the average temperature of the locations at a specific time of year. Query something like “temperature May Hilton Head, Miami” to compare two locations’ average temperatures for that month.

Temperature May Hilton Head, Miami

We can see that while both locations hit 90-degree temperatures last May, Miami has a higher average high (88 °F) than Hilton Head (83 °F), so Miami would be a safer bet for lying out on the beach.

Now that you’ve determined your location, you might want to research what airline to take. Wolfram|Alpha can provide data on airlines and domestic flights. Query something like “Continental Air Lines, Southwest Airlines” to see the differences between two airlines.

Continental Air Lines, Southwest Airlines

Not only can you see the average number of flights per day, average people per flight, and average flight distance for each airline, you can also see delay information. In this case, Continental Air Lines and Southwest Airlines have very similar on-time percentages for domestic departures, but the average delay time for a domestic arrival is only 5.2 minutes for Southwest versus 11 minutes for Continental.

If you don’t want to fly, you can also learn about gas prices in different cities along your journey. Say you want to drive from Chicago, Illinois, to Miami, Florida—at the beginning of your journey, should you fuel up in Chicago or Gary, Indiana? Query “gas prices Chicago, IL vs. Gary, IN” to compare current prices per gallon.

Gas prices Chicago, IL vs. Gary, IN

Here we can see that gas prices this week in Chicago are around $4.14 per gallon, while in Gary, they are only around $3.84 per gallon, so it would make sense to fill your tank in Gary instead.

Now that you’ve determined how you’re going to get to your destination, it’s important to stay safe in the sun. Use Wolfram|Alpha’s sunburn calculators to make sure you can hit the beach without getting burned.

Wolfram|Alpha can also help with international vacations. Learn about exchange rates for different currencies—try “$1,000 in euros” to convert $1,000 (US) to euros and view current exchange history.

$1,000 in euros

Want to travel to faraway lands but don’t know what kind of jet lag you’ll be dealing with? Wolfram|Alpha can easily tell you what time zone different cities are in. Try “time zone Chicago, Paris, Hong Kong, Sydney” to compare time zones relative to your current location.

Time zone Chicago, Paris, Hong Kong, Sydney

These are just a few of the ways Wolfram|Alpha can help you plan a vacation. Before you go, don’t forget to pack the ultimate travel guide—the Wolfram|Alpha mobile app!


Nice addition! One thing that isn’t mentioned that I can’t seem to get WA to do is calculate the cost of gas for a trip (well it can, but I have to make some assumptions and set up the calculation myself). For instance, it would be nice if a query like “the cost of gas for a trip from Boston to Atlanta” (using city names or zip codes) would determine a rough estimate of the cost of gas for the trip at current prices assuming the vehicle gets 30 mpg with an option (drop-down box?) to change the mpg to better reflect the vehicle being used (sedan, SUV, truck, etc). That way, a person can determine whether driving or flying would be more economical for their situation.

Posted by Louise April 12, 2011 at 5:55 pm

W|A aims to have reliable data and thus curates its content. But data is never 100 % reliable so be results of W|A’s computations.won’t be 100% reliable.either.
I proposed the addition of a ‘Reliability’ factor to data as it is curated. However this is not a computable factor.

I now propose ‘probability’ which is a computable. With that W|A can assign a ‘probablity’ that it is true to each collected datum . It can then include the factor in its computations and give the ‘probability’ that the result is correct in its output..

Posted by Brian Gilbert April 14, 2011 at 6:29 am

I love to see food price by countries by food item.
FAO Food Price Index

Posted by Akiko Endo May 2, 2011 at 12:13 pm