My husband is about to turn 50. He has visions of his feet in white sand, bottomless drinks, and me running slo-mo down a beautiful beach, Baywatchstyle, as our kids happily frolic nearby. I may not be able to rock that iconic red one-piece without scaring the locals, but I can book our family on a flight somewhere memorable to mark his milestone. That I can do.
I didn’t think my airfare search would stress me out as much as bathing suit shopping with a C-section pouch, but it did. Scoring good travel deals requires patience, planning, and perseverance. Here’s what I learned on my journey to find affordable airfare for my family of four.
- Plan Ahead — But Not Too Far Ahead. Knowing when to buy flights saves serious cash. As a general rule, book at least 21 days in advance. The chances of securing amazing last-minute fares for your family without wanting to pull your hair out strand by strand are small. Plan ahead to avoid a premium for booking too late (within 14 days) or too early (more than 5 months). You’ll also save money at the hair salon; knowing your flight details in advance means fewer gray hairs. Trust me.
- Some Days Are Cheaper. The day of the week you fly on can make a huge difference. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are typically the least expensive flights, and Friday and Sunday are the most costly. If you’re traveling for the weekend, consider Saturday to Monday or Tuesday instead of a Thursday or Friday to Sunday trip. Tuesday to Tuesday is often the cheapest for a full week. Better yet, be flexible and check a bunch of alternate dates around the same time period because airlines, like kids, can be unpredictable.
- Shop Around! I know you’re busy, but resist the temptation of booking the first fare you see. There are so many resources online to compare flights, dates, and prices. Kayak pulls from hundreds of airlines and travel sites to deliver deals. It pays to fly when no one else wants to (i.e., red-eyes) or before or after holidays. I also subscribe to sites such as TravelZoo because it handpicks the best fares and sends them to my inbox every week.
Source: The Stir | Jodi Meltzer