Uber Just Dropped New Travel Features—and I Tried ‘Em First


Physically, I’m lying in bed eating Cheetos in my tiny, humid NYC apartment. But mentally, I’m still in Spain, eating fresh paella on a sun-soaked catamaran with dolphins swimming beside me.

Allow me to explain, dear reader: I recently returned stateside after a Trip of a Lifetime™ touring through Madrid, the capital of Spain, and Málaga, a hidden gem of a city located along the country’s southern coast. I was there to gorge on copious slices of Jamon Iberico, dip my toes in the Mediterranean, and get a killer tan (spoiler alert: I just got burnt), but also to be one of the first people to try out Uber’s brand-spankin’-new travel features, which are all available app-wide today.

(This is the part where I tell you I received comped travel, accommodations, and meals in order to do this research, but I PROMISE all opinions are my own. If I were a Kardashian, this is also where I’d say ‘Bible.’)

Basically, Uber decided that summer 2022 was going to be ~Hot Girl Summer in Europe~ (actually, they determined that this is set to be the biggest ever summer of tourism on record) and set out to make sure every hottie would have what they needed to make that happen—Uber app in hand, of course. They did so by creating a series of new in-app features designed to make traveling—especially to some of Europe’s most popular destinations—a million times easier, helping us make the most of our hard-earned PTO, ofc.

These features help simplify planning your trip, getting to and from your destination, and bouncing around once you arrive, and, tbh, they’re all super freakin’ useful. I explain ze best of ze best, from personal experience, below.

GETTIN’ INSPIRED

Uber Explore

Long story short, Uber Explore is the ride-share company’s first foray ~beyond the ride~. The new feature—which has its own tab on the homepage of the app—lets you find and book experiences within your destination, whether it be restaurant reservations, cooking classes, boat tours, hotel bookings, or snorkeling lessons. The feature actually launched in a few U.S. cities in March, but it’s expanding to Europe now ahead of the sizzlin’ summer season, starting with Madrid (oh hey, I went there!) which is available now.

I used Uber Explore for *several* once-in-a-lifetime experiences on my trip, starting with Madrid, where I stayed at the jaw-droppingly beautiful Madrid EDITION, one of many hotels that you can now book through the app. I also got to try my hand at making Spanish tortillas (a combination of eggs, potatoes, and onions) in a cooking class at a restaurant called Casa Dani, which is owned by a woman whose cooking holds the title of “Best Tortilla in Spain.”

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In Málaga, my favorite experience was the aforementioned catamaran tour, during which the skipper literally pulled out a giant wok and started whipping up fresh seafood paella (there was also a cooler filled to the brim with champagne, so like, I think I’m a princess now?). After a nap out on the front of the boat, which, admittedly, is how I got my sunburn, I awoke to dozens of dolphins bobbing up and down in the water in front of me. Did I scream when I saw them? Yes. Am I ashamed? Not even a little.

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I also got a seat at several bumpin’ restaurants in Málaga through the feature, including El Pimpi, a traditional tapas joint in the old town, and Jose Carlos Garcia, where I indulged in a seafood-heavy tasting menu from the eponymous chef. If ~Michelin stars in Málaga~ sounds like it has a ring to it, it’s because Garcia is the proud holder of one.

The fact that I could find and book all of these activities and more in one place was truly *chef’s kiss*, and you better believe I’ll be doing it again on my next trip abroad (which, yeah, I’m already planning).

GETTIN’ THERE

Uber Travel

When Uber Met Gmail would be the name of the feature film created to describe Uber Travel, the company’s first booking integration. What does it do? Uber Travel pulls your flight details from Gmail (based on your confirmation emails) and automatically sets up rides to and from the airport for you. It’s basically the personal assistant you can’t afford and the Mom friend™ you wish came on every vacay, all in that beautiful, marvelous smartphone of yours. And, this is important, if you make changes to your flight or your flight gets delayed, Uber Travel will update your itinerary accordingly, based on any emails you receive about said change or delay. You’ll also have the option to rebook your ride for no additional cost, because we alllll know how annoying delays in the airport can be.

There was an Uber waiting for me after my eight-hour flight from JFK to MAD, and all I can say is #bless.

Uber in the Islands

Can you imagine a life without Uber? (I remember the Before Times and they are grim.) Welp, believe it or not, several popular European cities had been living sans Uber…until now. Uber in the Islands, as the company is calling it, is the launch of Uber across the Mediterranean and Balearic islands (including Málaga!), just in time for summer. That means if you’ve got a trip planned to beachy hotspots like Santorini, Sicily, or Malta (hi, happy to accept an invite to all three), you’ll be able to request an Uber for the first time ever.

If you’ve ever tried to hail a cab in a foreign country, especially one where you don’t speak a lick of the language, you know how absolutely major this is. Sigh of relief, activated.

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GETTIN’ AROUND

Uber Hourly

I think my favorite of all the new features is Uber Hourly, which is available now at home in the U.S. and in Europe. Basically, instead of booking a ride from A to B, Uber Hourly lets you book a car (and driver!) for a set number of hours. From there, you get to control where you want to go—and where you want to stop—within that time frame. That means you can put in multiple destinations—and even have the driver meet you up ahead while you get out and walk for a bit—as many times as you want. The best part? Each hour costs just $50, no matter what city you’re in, which is hella affordable. (If you’ve ever taken a $50 Uber to a bar a few blocks away during surge pricing in a big city, you get it.)

I booked Uber Hourly for a driving tour of Madrid, and it was IN-CRED-I-BLE. I probably made eight or nine stops in two hours, spanning several neighborhoods within the pretty city. Not only did I see a ton (like the stunning Royal Palace of Madrid and the famous Parque Del Retiro, for example), but I also hopped in and out of the car whenever there was a location I wanted to get a better look at. It was the best of both worlds: I got to take some short, pretty strolls when I felt like it, but also saved my legs and had A/C waiting for me when I was done. A hot-blooded, lazy girl’s dream come true!!!

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Uber Green

I know what you’re thinking: Didn’t I feel guilty for driving around so much? No, my friends, I did not, because I was swerving through the streets of Spain in an Uber Green—AKA an electric (or hybrid) car that makes for a low- or no-emission ride. Uber Green has been around for a little while now stateside, but the company recently committed to rolling it out in more than 100 major cities across 13 countries, like…wait for it…Spain! They also committed to ensuring that an Uber Green will never cost more than an Uber X—so being a green queen won’t require being mean to your wallet.

You know what they say: Take only photos, leave only footprints. And yay! Your footprint just got a lil smaller. Happy travels!

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