Summer can be the most expensive time of the year to travel, but it’s also the most likely time of the year that Americans will use their vacation days. A lot of my fellow Americans have this idea that travel has to cost a lot of money and can only be done every once in awhile since it’s so expensive (or you only have two weeks of vacation every year).
Now, I can’t help you with increasing those vacation days, but what people don’t realize is that travel can be incredibly affordable if you know where to look. Travel doesn’t have to mean resorts and constant indulgences either, the best kind of travel is truly when you’re meeting locals and getting an overview of the local culture.
The most pricey item that usually keeps people from traveling is the dreaded flight costs to where you want to go. This is another area that people tend to have misconceptions about in terms of cost. I’m going to be honest here and tell you that the US is expensive to travel within if you’re flying, but if you look toward other foreign lands you may discover that flights don’t have to be all that expensive anymore.
I’ve used the Skyscanner website and app for the past few years of my travels, basically once I started traveling full-time, and I have never looked back. I constantly test other up and coming sites to see if any of them beat the Skyscanner magic, but I’ve never found one that I like more than Skyscanner.
I book all of my major trips and even a lot of short flights in the States through Skyscanner, you just can’t beat the low prices they somehow constantly find, even if there’s only one or two seats left on the desired flight.
So, today I want to talk about using Skyscanner to find the flights that work for you and how you can discover a key aspect in travel: affordability.
You know how I was talking about the US being expensive to fly around? Well, did you know that a lot of flights to Asia can actually be cheaper or the same price as flying across the States. Crazy, amiright? For instance, I just bought a one-way flight a few months ago on Skyscanner for my upcoming move to Hong Kong in October, and it cost me $350! Um, what? And it wasn’t even with a low-cost airline.
In this post I want to talk about Asia specifically, because firstly, I have a biased love for it with my upcoming return to the region, and secondly, it’s an area of the world that more Americans are starting to visit. And I say that with glee.
In the past, it was common for Americans to either just stay in their own little North American bubble or to take trips down to South or Central America due to cost and location. On the other hand, Asia has been a common travel spot for Australians, Kiwis, and British travelers.
But in the present day of low cost travel, you don’t just have to choose your trip based on where you live. You can find return flights for as low as $400-$500 to Asia now, and Americans are taking advantage of that in a big way these days.
The cheapest airport to fly into in Asia is always changing. So, to save you some leg work I put together a list of the cheapest destinations to fly into for the rest of this summer, all the way up through September 2016.
And if you’re reading this after the summer has already passed, don’t you worry – Skyscanner is so easy to use you can do this research for yourself in a matter of minutes.
A few tips if you’re using Skyscanner and trying to find the cheapest flights:
- Clear your browser window and cookies before doing your final search and purchasing a flight. This can sometimes make lower flights show up in your search.
- Be open about which destination to fly into. Asia is easier to get around than you think, and you can find fairly cheap flights once you’re in the region. Also, it never hurts to check out a new location that you never thought of visiting before.
- The cheapest day and time to book flights from the USA is generally on Tuesdays at 12pm Pacific Time. Although Wednesdays can be good as well. Those are generally the cheapest days of the week to fly out on as well (Saturdays too!). Always try to avoid booking flights on Fridays which has historically been the most expensive day to buy tickets.
- When searching for flights, use the “Everywhere” option on Skyscanner.com and see what comes up. This goes along with open mindedness again. If you’re open to simply heading to the least expensive destination, when you’re filling in the search bar flying from the US, you can search for “Everywhere” in the destination section. This means that all flights from the US to other countries pop up from least expensive to most expensive, and you can easily see all of your options laid out in front of you.
- Another option if you’re flexible on time, is to search for the “Cheapest Month” or the “Whole Month” and Skyscanner will show you prices on the day of each month. It has never been so simple to figure out the cheapest date to fly out of.
- Lastly, sign up for their price alerts. If you have your eye on a particular trip or destination, set-up price alerts and Skyscanner will notify you by email if the price drops at all.
Okay, now that the basics are covered, let’s talk about the wonderful world of Asia! These are my picks for the least expensive destinations to fly into this summer – some of them may surprise you. I found flights for all of these destinations for under $500 roundtrip for July through September on Skyscanner. Note that most of the cheapest flights to this region are from the West Coast of America.
Manila // The Philippines
More people are starting to hear about the stunning natural beauty that the Philippines has to offer. However, it’s still not the most popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia, which means you can still enjoy the country without the droves of travelers you’ll find in say, Thailand.
I haven’t heard the greatest things about the beauty of Manila, but once you get to exploring outside of the city and start tackling those 7,000+ islands, you may just see why so many people gush about the Philippines.
One item to note about the Philippines is that it’s all about slow travel. Especially if you’re looking to go on an affordable vacation, this is one of those places that’s better to have time in. Most locations are accessed by slow ferries and boats. If you want to fly everywhere because you’re short on time, it will cost you a pretty penny. Because of this, I would recommend carving out at least a month if you want to explore more than just the island of Luzon – where Manila is located.
Shanghai // China
China is another destination that is starting to build by the year for western travelers. It’s a country that has become much more accessible for Americans with the many inexpensive flights that are now flying direct to major cities in China.
If you’ve always wanted to explore the great land of China, now is your chance. And if you’re only using China as an entry point before finding a cheap flight to another Asian destination, you’re in luck. If you’re only in certain cities, such as Shanghai, for 72 hours or less you don’t need a visa if you’re American! Win-win.
Prepare for a whole lot of people, a modern, bustling city, seeing the second-tallest building in the world, and more smells than your nose may be able to handle. Lonely Planet just labeled Shanghai as the center of the universe right now, so give into FOMO and see what all the hype is about for yourself!
Mandalay // Myanmar
Talk about a surprise inexpensive destination to fly into right now, Myanmar is very new to the whole tourism boom and now is one of the best times to visit the country. Myanmar is an incredibly fascinating place to go visit, comprised of over 100 different ethnic groups.
If you want to discover the heart of buddhism, colorful markets, monks, scenic parks and lakes, and gilded pagodas, the city of Mandalay could be the next destination for you.
Chiang Mai // Thailand
One of my favorite stops in Thailand, Chiang Mai is the culinary capital of the country and has a booming expat scene. If you’ve never been to Asia before and you’re looking for a place that won’t be a huge culture shock, Thailand and Chiang Mai in particular would be a good place to start.
Elephant conservatories, cooking classes, cobblestone streets, and access to the mountainous part of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is hard to beat in terms of beauty and culture. If you’re a history buff, there are some areas of the Old City that date back to the 1200s, as well as ornate temples from the 14th and 15th centuries. There is a little something for everyone here.
Seoul // South Korea
If you’re looking for the epitome of a futuristic city, Seoul is the land of modern skyscrapers, fast subways, and a blue-tinged big city atmosphere. Pop culture is huge here and there are plenty of unique cultural experiences that you probably wouldn’t even know existed, coming from the West. Be prepared to drink your fair share of soju and embrace the crazy fun energy that you’ll find throughout the city.
And although a lot of people only end up staying in Seoul, South Korea has a ton of glorious natural beauty outside of the city as well. This destination would be perfect for the outdoorsy types as well as the city hopping enthusiasts. If you love to hike South Korea has quite a few amazing places to get out in nature.
Have you used Skyscanner before? What are your favorite Asian destinations to fly into?
Note: This post was sponsored by Skyscanner, but all opinions, as always, are my own. I don’t recommend travel products and websites that I don’t use and love myself!
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