Photo: Escape

MIT Developed a New Map That Is the Only Cheap Flight Search Tool You’ll Ever Need

Technology + Gear Budget Travel Airports + Flying
by Matthew Meltzer Apr 3, 2019

Some of us are visual learners. We need diagrams, charts, and big, sexy graphics to understand how to do something as simple as ordering a pizza, and we take no shame in that kind of brain path. It’s cool. Reading isn’t for everyone.

For this set, and pretty much everyone else, the MIT Senseable City Laboratory in Singapore has developed Escape, an interactive map that searches Kiwi and Skyscanner then literally shows you the cheapest, quickest, and most popular flights in the world from any destination. It might be the only travel search tool you need when trying to figure out where to take a vacation.

It works like this: You enter your city of departure and the dates you want to travel, and you’ll be shown a big, colorful map of the world with the cheapest flights highlighted in different continents. It’s all color coded too — green is the cheapest, effectively meaning go. Red is the most expensive, meaning you should probably stop before you max out your credit cards.

So if your boss tells you there’s nothing going on in the office June 1-7, and you’ve got no idea where to go, this is your new best friend. Likewise, if that friend who can never escape his kids’ soccer games suddenly gets a hall pass three weeks from now. He can even use the “cheap flight” excuse to explain why you’re spending your guys’ weekend in Medellin.

For those who value things like popular destinations, short flights, or easy visa requirements, Escape lets you filter for that too. Nothing kills the high of finding a cheap flight faster than seeing it also includes a nine-hour layover at DFW.

You can also break things down geographically. For instance, if you’ve been jonesing to check out South America, you can select it from the “continents” menu at the bottom of the screen. Escape will then break down the cheapest destination in each country, which you can then select to see how much flights cost to each airport in that country.

It’s all broken down so simply and user-friendly that you could probably send it to your grandparents and they’d have their next post-retirement expedition booked before you bothered calling them again. But it’s amazingly useful for you too. Especially if you really do learn better by color.

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