Travel planning nerds (also known as the entire AFAR staff), apologies in advance for the hour or so you will lose (or win) to this effort. It sucked us in, and it will likely suck you in, too. But at least there’s a major incentive in trying to plan the cheapest possible around-the-world trip with this addictive trip planning tool—the chance to win $10,000 or 1 of 25 free flights.
This contest was developed by Escape, a travel search engine envisioned by a team of engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The grand prize winner will get $10,000 to travel, while 25 additional entrants will win free flights.
The Great Escape Challenge, as the contest is called, runs until March 15, 2020, and to enter you have to plan a trip using the Escape search feature that includes one stop on each continent except for Antarctica. Then, share the itinerary with a friend—you don’t actually have to take the trip (though now we kind of want to). Everyone who enters the contest and shares their resulting trip with at least one friend gets put into a drawing to win the grand prize of $10,000. The 25 people who plan the least expensive global travel itineraries will each earn a free flight (with a value of up to $500).
And as if we weren’t competitive enough, you can track your status in the game (because let’s face it, it’s a game of sorts) with an up-to-date leaderboard that displays the players who have created the 25 least expensive itineraries throughout the duration of the contest. Further fueling our competitive spirit is the fact that you can enter as many times as you want. (We’ll take responsibility for one attempt, but anything after that is on you.)
Escape was created by a team of engineers from MIT’s Senseable City Lab in Singapore, a digital technology development center and MIT’s first research center outside of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Escape search tool was developed by using machine-learning algorithms to monitor the best deals on every major airline route in the world. The result is an interface made up of interactive maps that identifies some of the cheapest flights to any number of destinations from a given starting point. Escape highlights the lowest-priced fares both within the map and in separate tabs on the search results page.
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Michelle Baran Michelle Baran is the senior travel news editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, pandemic coverage, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.