As our travel bucket lists grow longer and longer, one simple question lingers in the back of our minds: how can I afford the flights for all of the trips I want to take?
If you want to spend some time sampling the street food in Bangkok (here are our recommendations on visiting Bangkok), sipping wine in Cape Town or soaking up some rays on the beaches of Mykonos but aren’t sure how you can afford the flights, Skyscanner is an app that may be able to help get you there for cheaper than you thought. And if you need a great suitcase to take with you on your next adventure check out Calculated Traveller’s post on the Chester Minima Carry-on.
We live in a time where “travel hacks” are thrown around everywhere. There are email subscription services that pepper you with low fare alerts like Scott’s Cheap Flights and Faredrop, requiring you to travel on odd selections of days. There are a plethora of different tips about when to book your flights to get the best deals (some say Tuesdays, some say 70 days before your trip). But the reality is, the best way to find a cheap flight that fits your itinerary is an app that aggregates flight data, lets you track flight prices over time and can tell you the perfect time to book based on historical data.
What is Skyscanner?
While the hotel and rental car features are helpful for keeping everything in one place (and they often offer discounts on hotels if you book flights directly with them), the flight’s functionality is where Skyscanner provides the most value and why it has become so popular.
What’s so useful about Skyscanner is that it helps you if you have a fully-planned trip and need to just book flights or if you have no idea where to go and are looking for some inspiration.
From its “Search” functionality helping to tailor dates of travel to the best prices on the market to its “Explore” feature, which shows you where in the world you can travel for any given price, Skyscanner is every traveler’s dream. To top it all off, the Skyscanner app helps frequent travelers stay extremely organized by safely storing passport and loyalty card information to access during bookings and by keeping the details of booked travel organized on its “Trips” tab.
How do I book Skyscanner tickets to destinations I’d like to visit?
If you know exactly where you want to go, select “Flights” in the top panel of the app and you’ll be taken to a standard Skyscanner flight booking screen that will look similar to others you’ve likely used in the past. But what makes this one unique is that once you’ve selected where you’re flying from and where you want to go, you can open up the dates panel and see a ton of information about flight prices on certain days.
The “Calendar” tab is a nice way to simply see cheaper vs. more expensive Skyscanner flights by looking at the color of dots underneath dates, but the “Chart” tab is even more useful, letting you select your flight dates using a very visual set of lines that shows the progression of flight prices over time, allowing you to select the lowest-cost dates, all while seeing what the average prices are for your flights.
Flexibility is an extremely important part of travel planning. You can save hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars on flights if you’re willing to shift flight dates by just a few days, and this section of the app really helps prove that.
Once the best dates have been selected, hit “Done” in the top right corner and you’ll be taken to your flight options. You can sort by cost, duration and filter by specific airlines or number of stops before selecting the ideal flight for you.
But right now, it may not be the best time to book the flight. In the bottom left corner of the list of Skyscanner flights, you’ll see a circle with a bell and a plus sign inside of it. Clicking that button allows you to create a Skyscanner price alert for the destination and dates you’ve selected. It’ll send you a notification, either by phone or by email, when the price of that flight changes.
What do I do if I don’t know where I want to go?
This is where Skyscanner can become a lot of fun, opening you up to the world of travel possibilities ahead of you. The “Explore Everywhere” feature on the Skyscanner app will show you the destinations with the lowest cost for the dates you want to travel.
Hit the “Explore” tab at the bottom of the app and enter your origin airport and the app will begin to populate possible destinations. To focus in on the perfect destination for you, enter the times you’re thinking of flying, as specific as the exact dates or as broad as an entire month.
From there, you’ll see a list of destinations organized by price. Not only can you scroll the list and see what places stand out to you, but you can also get recommendations from those who have been there before you.
One of Skyscanner’s coolest features is its crowdsourced reviews of different locations, which ranks destinations based on the types of people it’s most popular with, from outdoorsy travelers to foodies. This is extremely helpful when you don’t have a destination in mind for your trip. Destinations on the list may pop up that you’ve never heard of before or know little about, so to be able to scroll through reviews from people who have been, detailing their trips and the things they did, is an extremely important factor in the decision-making process.
Book Skyscanner Hotels too!
Another great feature of the “Explore Everywhere” section of the app is that once you’ve selected your destinations, it provides a list of highly-reviewed hotel options in the area, which you can get discounts on when booking.
It’s a one-stop-shop for the most adventurous travelers who are willing to fly anywhere on a moment’s notice if they find the perfect flight opportunity.
This section of the app is what really sets Skyscanner apart from its competitors. Take for instance Skyscanner vs Kayak or Hopper vs Skyscanner. You can compare these other sites that let you track flight costs and they’ll alert you during the best times to book, but Skyscanner feels more like a community of travelers coming together to help others plan their perfect trip.
Booking travel can be a daunting task. But with an app like Skyscanner always in your pocket, it can make flight booking a bit easier. But once you download it, be prepared for it to become a bit of an obsession. Before long, you’ll be checking flights daily to places you never knew you wanted to visit. But it’ll also open you up to some amazing trips that you never thought would be possible.
Skyscanner has our vote as the best airline ticket app! Let us know what you think, if you have used it and what your thoughts are in the comments!
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