This travel tip is brought to you by one of my new blog contributors, Tavia ! I am so excited to be able to bring you some money saving tips especially during the holiday season! My goal is to bring you fresh, new content through my contributors. Content that I have always hoped to add to my blog but because of time restrictions with three kids, another job and maintaining the style & motherhood aspect of this blog – I haven’t been able to add these sections to my blog. I am beyond thrilled to have her on board with us and I hope you are too!
How to Score Cheap Flights for Your Next Family Vacation
How many times have you found a dream vacation spot, wanted to fly home for the holidays or travel to Hawaii for your best friend’s wedding but when you look up plane tickets, they are outrageously expensive? Probably every time. It can be so frustrating especially when you have to buy 4, 6 or 8 tickets so you and your kids can fly together!
I have spent the past 3 years delving into the world of Family Travel. I have researched plane tickets on my own, used searching sites and signed up for all the price change e-mail notifications. One thing I haven’t done; paid full price for an international plane ticket. I have put together 8 ways you can avoid paying full price for your next family adventure!
- Staying Flexible: The very first rule to score truly cheap flights; stay flexible. Be flexible in your destination, flexible in your dates and flexible in the airports you choose. By changing one day or a nearby airport you can save hundreds.
- Example 1: When flying into Washington D.C. you can input WAS as the Airport code. This will search BWI, IAD & DCA airports which allow you to see the truly cheapest flight into the area.
- Example 2: On an upcoming trip where we had set dates & destinations, I was able to save $1700 per person per Round Trip ticket. I received a notification from Scott’s Cheap flights about a Europe sale. My destination was Sofia, Bulgaria – but tickets were about $2400 per person. SO, I booked flights with Delta from Pensacola to Atlanta to Rome for $618 and got a one-way ticket from Rome to Sofia for $50. This means I am getting from Pensacola to Sofia for about $1700 less, arriving the same time, and I have the same number of layovers as I would have with a straight through ticket.
- Sign Up for Scott’s Cheap Flights: Up front, this is not an advertisement for Scott’s. I found their website about 18 months ago when I was searching for tickets to Europe for our 2018 trip. The entire company is based around scouring the internet for ticket sales. Once they find them, they email their subscribers to let them know. Besides instilling some serious wanderlust FOMO, it has given me the heads up for cheap tickets to destinations on our minds. You can sign up for a paid subscription so you get all of their notifications or stick to a free subscription and get most of them!
- Google Flights/Skyscanner: If you haven’t used Google Flights or Skyscanner to compare ticket prices yet, you need to. What makes these platforms different than other search engines is that you can type in your dates and leave the destination blank. Then you can see which destinations are the cheapest around the world for the dates you want to travel. I love this feature.
- Set Up Notifications: Inside of Google Flights and most search engines such as Expedia, you can set up notifications to be e-mailed to you when a flight’s prices drop. I love this tool. I usually look up the dates I want with the destination I want and then I track several of those flights. I love getting price changes e-mailed to me. A note: It will also e-mail you when ticket prices increase, but don’t be discouraged because tickets often rise and fall. Catch it when it’s low! Patience is a virtue in snagging cheap plane tickets!
- Don’t get burned by cheap airlines: Unless you are fully aware of all of the additional costs, beware of discount airlines. Frontier, Easy Jet, Ryan Air, Allegiant & Spirit are a few examples. YES, you absolutely can get a good deal! Sometimes Spirit offers $1 flights! You may score $25 direct flights! However, you will likely be charged for your carry on, charged for your checked bag, charged to pick a seat, charged to board first, etc. All of the additional charges leave you with a flight that costs exactly the same or more than a full service airline. NOW, I must also say that if you are a super savvy light packer, you can easily make these airlines work for you and your family. OH and Allegiant airlines has some incredible perks for Military Families with many of their additional charges waived.
- Use Miles/Points/Credit Card perks: If you are not using a credit card to earn miles or points that you can use toward travel, you should be. There are many cards out there that offer travel perks without outrageous annual fees. Since Delta and Southwest are the two main carriers at our home airport, we choose to carry the Delta Reserve AMEX and the Southwest Plus Visa. With our Delta card we receive an annual companion pass, access to the lounge, miles on every purchase and miles bonuses throughout the year. Since we are a U.S. Military Family, the annual fee for our Delta Reserve Card is waived. In 2018 we have booked 5 tickets with Delta Miles and redeemed our companion pass. When we use our Southwest Card we get points on every purchase we make. In 2018, we were able to use the Southwest sign-up bonus miles to claim 2 RT tickets from Florida to Oregon & 2 RT tickets from Florida to Texas, plus one one-way ticket from Virginia to Florida. That’s FIVE trip tickets for free just for using their card. Other cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred has many travel perks such as cash back for travel, cash back for UBER, credit for Global Entry, and many others! Do some research and snag the card that is right for your family!
- Look for Child Fares. I have never found child fares domestically in the United States, but many International flights offer them. Sometimes sites such as Expedia will automatically show you the child fare, but others (Google Flights) will not. I typically call the airline to ask for the difference. The most recent international tickets I booked I paid $618 for the adult tickets and $589 for the child tickets.
- Gift Cards. A not so common, but simple way to score cheaper airline tickets is to redeem gift cards and offset the cost. Every Christmas and birthday we ask our family to NOT get us material gifts. We are drowning in stuff, so we ask for experiences and airline gift cards. Airline gift cards start at $50 and go as high as you want. ProTip: You can add Southwest gift cards to your Amazon wish list!
Don’t pay full price to travel! Before you book your next trip, take the time to do a little research; it could pay off in a big way.
We’d love to hear how you’ve saved on your trips, so let us know in the comments.
Fly Brave, Travel Often, See Everything,
Big Brave Nomad