Whenever I book a plane flight, I always turn first to the website Kayak.com, which displays an array of choices from a wide variety of airlines, and allows you to sort by price, airline, preferred takeoff or landing times, and flight duration.
You can also compare Kayak’s findings against different sites like Priceline, Hotwire and Expedia, so you get a pretty complete picture of what’s out there before you book. And Kayak lets you compare hotel and rental car offerings as well.
But when I went to the site yesterday, I noticed something new — at least new to me.
It’s a feature called “Explore,” which shows you “where you can go for how much.” That is, you can see the lowest fares for round-trip economy-class flights to destinations around the world that have shown up on Kayak search results in the past 48 hours.
All you have to do is type in your preferred airport into a box on the left, and the prices to locations across the globe all show up on an easy to read world map. So you can quickly survey, say, which country in Europe has the least expensive flight going to the Continent.
A major caveat, though, is that the fares are for particular dates that may or may not match when you want to go. It all depends on how flexible you are. You can narrow it down by season or month, but that’s it.
For instance, my nearest major airports are in New York City, so I found a great round-trip price ($255) to Puerto Rico — good March 22-24.
I can go to Portland, Oregon, for just $250 round-trip — on September 5 or 6.
I could even fly round-trip to Moscow for just $542 — from May 13-22.
Another big caveat is that by the time you see the fares, they may have changed — since plane fares change all the time, and these results go back 48 hours. And, as the airlines always warn, seats are limited. So when I actually looked at the flight selection to Moscow on those May dates, the least expensive was now $810.
You can also specify the maximum length of the flight you want to take, and the maximum amount you want to spend, so if 10 hours and $500 is your limit, you’ll see a smaller number of results.
And there’s also a tab called “spy,” that allows you to see a procession of destination searches that others have recently made, and the prices they found.
With all the caveats, this feature seems like it’s mostly for fun — but so much fun that I could probably spend hours every day just cruising for great fares and hoping to find something that matches my schedule, or just my fantasies.
Something like New York round-trip to Vilnius, Lithuania, for $619 — leaving tomorrow.
You can check Explore out yourself at the Kayak site.
Be sure to download my free report, “How to Ride the Coming Wave of Boomers,” available here. It’s all about the best ways to market travel to baby boomers — the biggest-spending group of travelers the world has ever seen. It’s also the easiest way to subscribe to my blog, so you won’t miss a posting. Thanks!