Family travel is often associated with summer road trips. Firstly, because summer road trips are the best. But also, flying anywhere with kids can get downright expensive. However, this isn’t necessarily always the case. If you want to fly with your kids, there are money-saving options.
Thankfully, there are a few simple hacks that can help you find cheap family flights and save hundreds of dollars (if you’re flying internationally, maybe even thousands).
We will discuss where to book cheap flights and how to best stretch your dollar. That way, you have more money to spend on activities or save for your next adventure.
What Website Is Best for Finding Cheap Flights?
In all honesty, there are so many great websites out there these days that have basically the same functionality. No matter which one you choose as your go-to, you will encounter two different kinds of websites. A travel search engine or an online travel agency.
For example, Kayak and Google Flights scour other travel websites for deals and give you all of your options in one place (a great place to start). Whereas Expedia and Priceline are online travel agencies that will actually book your flight for you.
Some of the Top Flight Search Websites That You Have Probably Used Yourself Include:
- Google Flights
Is one better than the other? Not necessarily. Once you’re used to one website’s functionality, I’d simply stick to one that your happy with- or even browse a couple to see your options.
Where to Book Cheap Flights: Expert Hacks From a Traveling Mom
When you’re scouring the internet for cheap flights, it can get overwhelming and frustrating pretty quickly. For me, it’s all the hidden fees (taxes, baggage, seat selection, etc.) that lead to what I call “flight search burnout.” Sometimes, I feel like I can’t look at my screen for one more second and inevitably give up on my flight search until another day. Or I just end up booking the first flights that sound decent enough so that I can stop looking (not recommended).
After traveling the world with my two daughters, here are my top hacks for saving you money while flying- whether it’s across the state or around the world!
Look Directly at an Airline’s Website
More often than not, you will get the best deal by booking directly with an Airline. You can figure out which airline is offering the best deals first with a search engine and then proceed directly to them.
There are a few reasons for this. Primarily because they don’t have to share their profits with another website and can pass those savings on to you, the customer. Also, booking directly means that if there are any issues with your flight or there are changes that need to be made, it will be easier (and cheaper) to do so through the airline.
Consider Being Loyal to One or Two Airlines
If there are particular regions of the country or world you like to fly to, you may notice that you are booking with the same airline more often than not. I highly recommend looking into the rewards/loyalty programs for the airlines that you fly with the most.
Look into what credit cards they offer (if you qualify- which most people do), what their reward miles can get you, and start earning. Plus, most airline-specific cards these days have extra perks that save you money- such as a free checked bag, early boarding, and picking your seat.
For example, we love our United MileagePlus card. We use it to get miles with everyday spending, make big purchases with their partners that offer bonus miles, and rack in the miles to fly several times per year as a family nearly for free (most often to our favorite destination: Europe).
Be Flexible With Your Dates and Time
This hack may seem obvious, but it can be such as game-changer. Sometimes a one or two-day shift in your plans can mean hundreds of dollars in savings. While the general rule is that mid-week is cheaper than weekends, this isn’t always the case. I recommend setting your search window as wide as possible to see what you can do to maximize your cost savings- you might be surprised!
If you can manage it, traveling in the off-season can also be a major family money saver too. For example, we love to visit the Meditteranean in the quiet off-season, visit friends in Croatia in the fall, or Greece in December.
Expert mom tip: With family travel, be flexible on dates- but less flexible on the quality of the flight. You will thank yourself later when you don’t book that extra cheap flight that requires a 12-hour layover and red-eye flight with tired, cranky kids.
Packing light with kids is easier said than done. But if you want to maximize your savings, you can often do so by choosing “economy lite” tickets. These are usually the cheapest but come with some restrictions. Make sure you read the fine print and are okay with all the rules. If so, then book your flights knowing you’ve saved some extra cash.
I don’t personally recommend any options that don’t allow you to pre-book your seat if you’re traveling with kids under 10. You’ll be surprised that you might not be seated together on the flight (even though you’d assume otherwise).
Look For Hacker Fares
If you are planning a trip far in advance, you can set up some alerts to keep track of any flight sales or deals that pop up. Websites like Kayak, Google Flights, and Kiwi are great for this. Hacker-type fares typically involve a mishmash of flights to get you to your destination. Thus, once again, you will want to be ready to be flexible and travel light.
Clear Your Browser’s Cache
Have you ever noticed that when you’re searching for a flight, the prices seem to slowly creep up each day? Well, chances are websites are purposely raising their prices to give you a sense of urgency in buying tickets.
You can avoid some of this marketing game by clearing your website’s cache (found in your browser settings). I recommend saving your search results, so that you aren’t looking up the same flight info over and over again.
Don’t Be Afraid to Book Cheap Family Flights and Explore
There is this assumption that family travel is expensive. I hope I’ve given you some creative ideas for finding cheap family flights. so that you can still see the world (if you want)- a much-needed form of self-care, in my opinion. Primarily with the strategic use of mileage credit cards, I’m happy to report that we have traveled to Europe several times, South America, and across the U.S.- leaving a wave of memories along the way.