6 Airline Travel Tips to Make Your Family Vacation More Affordable
For a family of four or five, travel can be costly. Airline ticket prices aren't adjusted for kids, so you're forced to pay full fares for everyone in your party. To make the cost of your next getaway more manageable, here are six airline travel tips.
1. Make Checking Ticket Prices a Habit
Airline prices change constantly, so it helps to know what the average fare is to your preferred destination. Check prices periodically over a period of weeks or months. When the time comes to buy tickets, knowing the range of recent price fluctuations can help you avoid paying top dollar. If an airfare sale or discount is announced, be ready to purchase the tickets if the price is truly a bargain.
2. Understand Price Cycles
The weekly cycle of airline pricing can also determine when you choose to buy tickets. Sunday nights and Tuesday nights are when you can find the cheapest flights, according to travel news journalist and "Travel Detective" Peter Greenberg, who has worked for CBS News and ABC, among other news outlets. The highest fares tend to be found on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, when people are making last-minute travel decisions. Greenberg recommends calling airlines for deals instead of searching online.
3. Be Flexible With Dates and Times
You can save money by flying at off-peak times. If your kids are early risers, consider jumping on an early morning flight (or even if they aren't – tell them they can sleep on the plane!). And flights are often less crowded if they're during the middle of the week. Off-season travel is another way to save money.
4. Don't Rush the Buying Process
When you do sit down to buy tickets, whether it's online or over the phone, make sure you give yourself enough time for the entire process. You'll be required to provide information about each family member to reserve your tickets. If your travel dates are flexible, you'll need time to search for the cheapest fares. Sometimes prices change quickly. When this happens, getting on the phone and talking to an agent may be your best course of action. You may also want to check fares from different devices or using different web browsers. Past search history has been shown to affect the hotel prices you see online at some travel websites, notes TravelSmarter, so make sure to clear your browser cookies before you start your search.
5. Understand Add-On Fees
When comparing ticket prices, don't forget about add-on fees. According to Airfarewatchdog, most airlines charge a checked bag fee of $25. With carry-on bags, you avoid extra fees and save time. Another add-on fee to be aware of is seat selection. Different airlines charge different fees, so be sure to read the fine print.
6. Lighten Your Pack List
If traveling with younger children, you're probably managing strollers, car seats and other items that need to be checked. If this seems like too much to handle, consider buying or renting these items at your destination. Before deciding what to pack, price out the cost of diapers, booster seats and stroller rentals versus checked bags.
Family vacations are a great way to create lasting memories with your kids. If you're saving for a special getaway, spend the time to find airfare bargains that will give you the most bang for your buck.