7 Best Ways I Save my Family Money on Airfare
The cost of flights is one of the top reasons families don’t take vacations. I’m here to show you how flying doesn’t have to be expensive. If you follow Lazy Lauren, you’ll already know that acquiring and using points from credit card bonuses is the best way I stretch my travel dollar. However, this is not the only way I save money on airfare. Now that we are a family of 4, points no longer cover all costs. So here are the 7 best ways I find the cheapest flight possible (not using points or miles.)
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1. I try to stay Flexible
Not just with my vacation schedule but with the destinations as well. One of the best ways to save money on airfare is by grabbing low flight price deals when they are available. I check the Southwest Airlines website, OFTEN. I pay attention to TravelZoo and Scotts Cheap Flights (email services that send me flight deals) OFTEN. Their offers may be to places that I’ve never even thought about. But if it’s an awesome deal, I consider it. I try to avoid scheduling flights around holidays. Airlines know they can hike prices during Spring Break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. Also, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays are the cheapest days to fly…so I start with those days, when searching online.
2. If I can’t be flexible, I try to book my flight 54 days in advance
There was a study done a while back that said booking your flight 54 days in advance (no more or less), gets you the best price. I actually tested this theory once when I searched a flight about 4 months before a trip that was already planned. Then I waited until the 54 day mark, and sure enough, the price of the ticket went down….by quite a bit actually. Now, I didn’t test any other days other than that specific 54 day mark, so I can’t tell you if maybe another day is better. But, this tip saved me a considerable amount of money, so its worth keeping it in mind, if you can’t be flexible on destination or time.
3. I use specific Search Engines
Skyscanner is amazing! I use the “Everywhere” tool to find best ticket prices from my airport to, well, everywhere in the world! (that’s where flexibility comes in again). Kayak also has an “anywhere” search tool. Secret Flying, Momondo, and Google Flights also are great tools to save money on airfare. Google Flights will even let you compare different prices over a large date range. I always double check budget airline websites as well…Southwest, Frontier, Spirit, Allegiant Air. They may not show up in the big search engines, such as Expedia or Priceline. For example, you have to go directly to the Southwest Airlines Website to search for their flight prices.
4. Check different Airports
There are 3 additional airports near my local airport that I can get to for relatively cheap (either by driving or flying). I have found I could save as much as 75% off a flight by flying out of one of these airports rather than my local airport. So check your surrounding airports to save money on airfare. I also consider the different airports near my destination. For example, when my family went to Yellowstone National Park, we flew into Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but I booked our return flight through Salt Lake City, Utah. It saved us nearly $800. And the drive between the 2 cities was unbelievably beautiful!
5. I use a “Private Browsing” Mode when searching for a Flight
Travel Search engines use “cookies” on your web browser that follow your recent route searches. After a particular route is searched, even once, you may notice the price goes up the next day. That is those cookies at work, helping that particular website scare you into booking that flight quickly before the price goes up even higher. I’ll search my flights in a Private Browsing Mode (Incognito) to keep my searches secret from my computer. In Internet Explorer or Firefox, you can hit Control, Shift, P, on your keyboard in order to browse in “private mode.” In Google Chrome or Safari, you would hit Control, Shift, N, and “incognito mode” will appear. Your search information will not be tracked, and this will prevent inflated costs if you don’t book your flight right then!
6. Check the Fine Print
Some airlines charge for carry-on baggage, checked bags, & seat assignments (and they may not happen until you arrive at the airport). Some have a ‘booking fee’ that they try to slip in on the very last page, after you in-put all your passenger information…so annoying! Budget airlines, particularly, can be guilty of added on fees – Ryan Air, Vision airlines, Spirit, Frontier, etc. Just be sure to total up your cost (even the ones you will have to pay for at the airport) to make sure you are really getting a good deal.
7. I use the Skyscanner App
You can download it here. Honestly, out of all the ways listed above, this app is by far the best way I save money on airfare. I plugged in my local airport (as well as a couple other airports around me) and it sends me notifications of cheapest days or months to fly, to various destinations, as well as ‘price alerts’ when the price of a specific flight search I saved changes!
What is preventing you from traveling more with your family? Cost and taking the time to plan are usually the 2 biggest hurdles to taking more vacations with your family. The tips above will help, but as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the biggest way I fly for cheap, even FREE, with my family is by using points and miles. It’s actually very simple to get started “playing the points game.” Virtually anyone can do this! If you are interested in learning more, check out my Points page on how you can get started earning points and flying free.
Happy and Safe Travels!
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