The best part of taking a trip is Google Photos

Vacations. They never happen soon enough and, for some of us, they're a luxury if they happen at all. That's why it's so important to not only relish every minute of free time but to also ensure that any memories you may have captured are properly archived and stored away for the next trip down nostalgia lane.

Google Photos is particularly helpful at making this happen. I recently took off on my first vacation since the new Photos features have made headway, including shared albums, high-resolution uploads, and the ability to create and edit movies. (Yes. It's been that long since I've taken some quality time off.) I took over 300 hundred photos with my Pixel XL, Galaxy S7 Edge, and Gear 360 while traipsing around New Zealand. Here's how Google Photos did all the hard work managing those memories.

Easy backup on the go

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Admittedly, I may have committed a folly by purchasing the 32GB Really Blue Pixel XL, but Google Photos had me covered on my journey through Kiwi Land. Anytime I nearly hit my gigabyte limit, I'd find a Wi-Fi spot and get to uploading and offloading. It's exceptionally easy to do with Google Photos, too.

Free up space in Google Photos.

In the hamburger menu bar, simply tap the option to free up space and remove any photos and videos that have already been backed up to the cloud. Each shot taken with the Pixel XL took up about 4MB, so I hit my limit pretty fast. But whenever I cleared off those photos that were already backed up to the cloud, I recovered about 10GB of disk space.

Be sure to back up other photos.

You can also back up photos from other apps. I backed up all of my Instagram Stories and Snapchat snaps, as well as the folder containing content downloaded from the Gear 360. You can set up automatic downloads on any other mobile devices you might have in tow, too, so that everything is stored and ready to archive once you get home.

One note of caution, however: If you're concerned about redundant backups — for instance, you use Dropbox's camera upload feature for posterity — make sure that those photos are backed up before you free up disk space. I forgot to check and, as a result, a majority of my vacation photos were only backed up to Google Photos. That should suffice, but I like to have doubles in case disaster should strike. (Of course, you can download the photos again once they're uploaded, but unless you have a Pixel they may not have been sent to the cloud at their full resolution.)

Fully-functional photo albums

I love to snap every dynamic moment of my time away, but I hate the dread that settles in when I'm back and I realize that I have to individually tag and upload every single photo before I can share it. Thankfully, Google Photos did all that for me before I even got home.

New Zealand album ready and waiting.

Google compiled every relevant photo and video I had shot in New Zealand into its own, ready-to-share library. The album includes location stamps for each batch of photos, like the restaurants we ate at, the hikes we took, and the scenery we drove by. It started documenting those locales from the minute I touched down in Auckland and ended the day I flew back home to San Francisco. It even accounts for photos that I uploaded with other devices and paired those with relevant locales.

One thing to note, however: If you don't back up your photos during your vacation time, they won't be archived in this manner after the fact. I only backed up half of what I shot with the S7 Edge. Everything else had to be manually added to the album folder after Google had populated it with what was available. It's not a major deal, but it's something you'll want to keep in mind if you'd like to take advantage of Google's automated features.

A helpful Assistant

Who doesn't love a good home movie? The Photos Assistant offered up several videos of my trip based on the metadata of each file. I would have never thought to put together some of the clips that Photos compiled, but for the most part, it was right on the money.

Even better: You can add a bit of your own flair to the presentation by editing the video on your smartphone. In the Photos app, you can change the background music, tack on a filter, and edit the order of content. You can even add on any images and videos that Google may have missed. When you're finished, you can give the video a title and export it to YouTube for all to see. Just make sure that if you're not using the clips from the included music library that you're not uploading anything that's copyrighted — especially if you plan to show off your video publicly.

Cheesy collage!

Google Photos can compile quick collages, too. If you'd rather not deal with choosing your own snapshots for an Instagram-friendly mock-up, Google will take a batch of photos you've shot in rapid succession and compile them for you. Of all the simple things that Google's Photos Assistant can do, this one is my absolute favorite. It's especially fun to include any outtakes.

How do you use Google Photos?

Have you used Google Photos on a trip? Did you like what it offered? Tell us!

Florence Ion

Florence Ion was formerly an editor and columnist at Android Central. She writes about Android-powered devices of all types and explores their usefulness in her everyday life. You can follow her on Twitter or watch her Tuesday nights on All About Android.