Be flexible about departure times. The demand for early morning flights is higher because business travelers typically depart early in the morning. Wednesdays consistently have the lowest fares of the week, followed by Tuesdays and Saturdays. If you can book your travel on less-busy travel days of the week, you can usually save a good chunk of money. Avoiding busier travel times can also make your trip more relaxing, without having wait in long security lines or navigate through mazes of people. If your children are old enough, a late night or “red eye” flight might be an option, especially if you&'ll have extra time to sleep in the next day.
Travel time also refers to the season. Late spring, early fall and early winter are the best times to get last minute travel deals. Also, the 1-2 weeks following New Years are slow times for the travel industry. Booking a trip during these slower times can help you save money. For a good discussion on travel times and great tips, see http://www.farecompare.com/travel-advice/tips-from-air-travel-insiders/ and
If possible, be flexible about whether or not your flight has a layover. Some family dynamics work best with a layover, while some work best with a direct flight. However, if you can be flexible in this, it can often help you get a better deal. Often flights with layovers are less expensive than direct flights.
Multiple Destination Options
Another thing you can try to be flexible about is the destination. Pick 4 or 5 destinations and compare prices. You may find it fun to not know the destination yourself until shortly before the departure date. The key is to try to make certain that each of the possible destinations is truly one that your family will enjoy. That way, no matter which destination wins the price contest, they won&'t be disappointed
Instead of flying directly into the city you are visiting, you can often save quite a bit of money by flying to a smaller alternate city, and then driving a couple of hours to the destination city by car. For instance, Flights into Indianapolis are usually less expensive than flights to Chicago. If you save $90 per ticket by flying into Indianapolis, and you have three children over the age of two, along with 2 parents in your travel party, that is a savings of $450. You&'ll still have to pay for gas to travel to and from Chicago, but you will most likely spend less than $80.00 on roundtrip gas and rental car mileage. When all is said and done, you save about $370.00. Some other benefits of flying into a mid-size city are that car rental prices are also often lower, and the airports are less crowded and more pleasant.
Make sure to check out travel websites. You can find not only flights, but last minute family vacation deals that include hotel rooms, rental cars, and admission to local attractions and activities. It seems crazy, but with a travel package website, you can often find a package that includes flight and hotel for much less money than you can buy a ticket for the same flight (not including the hotel) directly from the airline.
Usually these websites allow you to select options like travel dates, departure time, layovers, and destination airport. Using the tips already mentioned, you can further increase your savings by filling in the blanks with optimal times, destinations, etc. There are also a few websites that let you bid for a package. You tell them the price you are willing to pay, and within a few hours they will tell you whether or not they are willing to sell you a flight or a travel package for your requested price.
Other things you&'ll want to think about saving money on are food and entertainment attractions. One way to save on food is to buy a hotel package that includes meals, and/or find out if there are local food establishments that let kids eat free or for a reduced price. Staying in a condo or hotel room with a kitchenette can also save you some money since you can buy food at a local grocery store and prepare sack lunches and sit down dinners yourself. Many attractions have special deals such as family rates, “2 for 1 Tuesdays” or other money saving promotions. Some attractions also have a certain time during the week that kids are admitted free of charge. To find out about these deals, visit the websites of the attractions you plan on visiting. Better yet, give them a call and ask them if they have any weekly or periodic specials that might save your family some money.
With these money saving travel tips, you can find the best last minute family vacation deals and surprise your kids with a great family vacation-without breaking the bank!