How to save money on your next flight

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Traveling is one of my favorite things to do. You get out of your daily routine, see new and exciting places, meet new people, and try new things.

What’s not to love?

Well, there’s one thing I don’t love about traveling.

The cost of it all.

Once you add up plane tickets, hotel, car rental, food, well, it gets expensive really quickly. Especially if you are going somewhere like a theme park for your trip. Not only are all of those things costly, but there is likely an up-charge for almost everything!

So how do you get to do what you love while not spending a fortune?

This is part of a series of posts dedicated to saving you money while traveling. First, let’s talk about airline travel to get to your destination, and how you can save the most money.

1. Search using incognito mode

Most airline websites use cookies and cache to their advantage. It is very easy to track if you are returning to the website and searching for a particular travel destination and date.

Airlines can use this to their advantage by increasing the price on the flight you were considering. That’ll trigger you to want to purchase ASAP (I don’t want it to keep increasing in price!).

Instead, use incognito mode in your browser before looking up your flight. Your cookies and cache are not stored using incognito mode, so you will look like a new visitor. This will at least give you the most honest price when you are browsing!

2. Purchase about 6 weeks before desired travel date

When we fly, we typically book about 6 weeks in advance for some of the best fares. It’s not the most reliable tip, especially since it could change depending on where you are flying and/or if the time you are traveling is a busier time.

For example: I’m looking at flights about 6 weeks out, which would put me around the 4th of July at the time of writing this. The flights leaving on 7/3 and 7/4 are more expensive than the flights even leaving earlier that week.

That’s something to take into consideration when using this tip, and potentially trying to leave slightly earlier than the holiday.

3. Fly (very) early or (very) late

This one is tough for families with small children. We looked into this when we traveled to Orlando a couple of times last year. Flights leaving our airport at 6am were at least $100 cheaper than every other flight leaving that day. That’s a big chunk of change, especially when you’re booking for more than one person!

But, if you can swing it, those super early morning flights and redeye flights can save you a considerable amount of money.

I used this tip a lot when it was just me. It saved me so much money when I was a broke college kid!

4. Nanny in the Clouds

You guys. I had never heard of this before just recently. Life changing.

This small company pairs up babysitters and parents on a flight. Say there is a parent traveling with their two small kids without the other parent with them. Nap time might be running into their flight for one of the kids. The other needs a lot of distractions to not want to run down the aisle.

Am I stressing you out yet? Because I’m stressing myself out.

Nanny in the Clouds pairs up that parent with someone (you!) on the flight who wants to make a little extra cash. The two of you meet up before your flight and just provide another set of hands to help out.

This is such a great idea to make a little cash to offset the cost of your flight! As a mom of a toddler who has flown a few times already, I can tell you that this service will always be needed. Especially of parents with multiple littles.

5. Shop on a Tuesday or Wednesday

The jury’s out on this tip, but I have had some success with it.

I’ve read from others that there is even a specific time of day on the Tuesday 6 weeks before your travel date that is the cheapest to purchase your flight: about 3pm. Sounds oddly specific, doesn’t it?

Can’t hurt to try though, right?

6. Use flexible search

Flexible search is SO handy when you have some flexibility in your travel dates. You are able to search all of the available flights for a defined period of time so you are able to choose the cheapest flight.

We really like to use this even when our dates aren’t particularly flexible, but we want to catch the cheapest date to travel within our travel period.

For example: if we are traveling to Orlando, and are taking vacation from work Monday through Friday, we have some flexibility on when we travel. We could grab an evening flight on the Friday before the week of vacation, or check to see if Saturday or Sunday is cheaper. This has helped us save quite a bit of money!

7. Book legs of travel separately

You get the most bang for your buck on international flights with this tip, but it doesn’t hurt to try for domestic as well.

The idea here is, instead of booking your flight that has a layover all together in one booking (as flights with layovers oftentimes are less expensive), you book each leg separately to get you to the same destination.

I just did a search for a flight from Houston to London. The cheapest flight with just one stop (could have been cheaper with more stops!) flies Houston to Calgary, Calgary to London for $1040.

By breaking up each leg of travel into separate flights, my total came to $980! That was an easy way to save $80. I bet there are more substantial savings out there, but this was the first search I did and it came back with savings.

8. Search for airline errors

I found this gem recently, so I haven’t been able to put it to use yet. It sounds like it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, you can see some serious savings! The website I found this on mentioned international flights for $200-300 round trip!

The blog I found this on does have a paid membership that helps you maximize savings, but also mentions some free ways to find the fares. Notably, using Google and Kayak for price alerts through your email. I have also had a lot of success using Airfare Watchdog.

Check out the full post here.

9. Some good websites

I have a list of sites I like to visit when booking airfare. It’s always beneficial to put in a little time to find the best deal!

  • Airfarewatchdog – I’m a long time user of their website! You get price alerts via email on the cities you are interested in
  • Skyscanner – a good site to see results from multiple airlines to choose the cheapest price
  • Kiwi – similar to Skyscanner to see results from multiple airlines
  • Skiplagged – can find you cheap flights, but also finds errors in pricing
  • CheapAir – similar to a few of the sites above to search multiple airlines to find you the best deal. According to their website, they also accept other forms of currency, like Bitcoin, if you are interested

That’s it! Have you tried any of these methods and saved money? Do you have any tips to maximize savings for air travel?

Traveling can be expensive. But it doesn't have to be. I've put together a list of 9 money-saving tips that can save you a lot on your next flight. These will help get a cheap flight for your next family vacation!

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