How to Book Cheap Flights- Top 10 Tips!

How to Book Cheap Flights | Global Munchkins

I get asked A.L.L.  T.H.E.  T.I.M.E. how we afford to travel as much as we do AND with as many kids as we do. Some ask out of sheer curiosity, others seriously don’t know how we manage the kids but I think the majority of people are really saying how the heck do you afford it?

Travel isn’t cheap and while we certainly make it more of a priority than some families we also have a few tricks up our sleeves including how to book cheap airfare. Lucky for you I have put together a fantastic guide to help you SAVE BIG on your next airline booking.

How to Book Cheap Flights- My Top 10 Tips!

1. Clear Your Cookies/ Search History-

Companies are paying BIG BUCKS to follow your search patterns in hopes of being able to up their prices when they see that you want something (by continually searching for that item) this includes airlines. Open a new incognito browser or clear your cookies and search history to avoid this unnecessary fees.

2. Find the BEST Time to Travel to Your Destination

How to Book Cheap Flights | Global Munchkins

If you have a MUST SEE destination you will want to find the BEST possible time to travel there. This is typically in between their high and low seasons (also known as shoulder season) which offers you the best of both worlds.

It is easy to find the best time-frames by searching with Hopper.

You simply type in your destination and it gives you the averages for ticket prices.

You can also use the ITA Matrix Software to narrow down the best days in the month to travel. *The ITA Matrix is only a search engine and you will have to find the flight and book it through another site like Orbitz, Expedia etc…

3. Flexibility is Key

How to Book Cheap Flights | Global Munchkins

If you are serious about travel then you MUST learn to be flexible. If you don’t mind when or where you travel to I suggest checking in with some travel deal sites like: Johnny Jet, The Points Guy, The Flight Deal and TravelZoo.

If you have a budget in mind you can wait until there is an INCREDIBLE deal to somewhere that interests you and POUNCE on it!!

4. Check Multiple Search Engines

I always check at least 3 different search engines before purchasing airline tickets. They all have their own algorithms and they factor in data differently. By searching at least 3 you are bound to find the data that best suits your needs.

Here are the Search Engines I recommend:

Google Flights

How to Book Cheap Flights | Global Munchkins

My go to search engine is Google Flights. Its super user friendly and dependable. Plus, Kayak and Orbitz use their info to power their own sites. So, head to this source first.

To get the most out of Google Flights make sure to utilize their graph, map and calendar features.

Not sure exactly the best route. Search the entire region. You might find a flight into a different country and then a train to your final destination is the best way to go. (Download the Rome to Rio app to find the best alternate transportation routes like trains, metros, buses cabs etc…)

Oh, and the ability to search multi-city tickets can really get you the BEST bang for your buck. This feature allows you to fly into one city, stop for a few days to explore, then fly to another city for a few days before returning home). Being able to explore without backtracking for your return flight is crazy nice!

I covered these tactics in one of my Family Travel Chat LIVE on Facebook

Momondo

How to Book Cheap Flights | Global Munchkins

I like Momondo just because of the way it is laid out. I think its the most aesthetically pleasing sites out there for researching flights. Their flight insight allows you to get a quick overview of the cheapest airline to fly your route, the seasonality, best days to depart etc…

It also has a ticket builder feature which allows you to choose the best arrival and departure to suit your needs.

CheapOAir

How to Book Cheap Flights | Global Munchkins

CheapOAir is an industry favorite. They offer an app which allows mobile searching to be pain free which is great. You can also check their daily flight deals towards the bottom of the page if you are just looking for a great deal and don’t really have a destination in mind.

I like that you can set the perimeters to show you the best rates for X amount of days as well as type in the number of days you can be flexible within. This works wonders when you are booking something around a schedule like spring break for example.

Skyskanner

How to Book Cheap Flights | Global Munchkins

Skyskanner is one of the best overall search engines because it includes budget airlines too. Not all search engines do.

This is very useful especially when flying international. Places like Europe usually involve traveling to multiple countries within one trip. It is cheapest to fly on a large carrier to and from Europe but within Europe itself you will want to fly on a budget airline like RyanAir.  Some tickets can cost as low as $30 USD to hop over into a new country! You just need to watch the added fees with these types of carriers. Things like seat assignment, not printing your boarding pass and baggage fees can add up quick. But, if you do it right they can save you BIG bucks!

HipMunk

How to Book Cheap Flights | Global Munchkins

HipMunk is another site that lays everything out for you. I like that they offer tips to help you save and offer fare alerts so you can follow your flights and strike at the best deal.

I also like that you can search by “Agony” which is basically their thoughts on the best bang for your buck. Price + Travel Time + # of Stops.

Flight Network

How to Book Cheap Flights | Global Munchkins

The Flight Network has one of the BEST guarantees. You book through them, the price drops and you automatically get the difference back in a credit. That’s pretty awesome!

5. When to Book

CheapAir.com hosted a survey which analyzed over 560 million flight searches. They concluded that the optimal time to purchase plane tickets was on average 7 weeks in advance (for domestic flights).

For international flights, Cheap Air found your best bet to be 11-12 weeks prior to departure.

The absolute WORST time to book is within 14 days of flying. You can also be penalized by booking to far in advance (5+ months).

UPDATE: Kayak now (2017) has an awesome tool to help you figure out the BEST time to book a flight. Check out the When To Book Tool here.

6. Departure and Arrival Day Trends

Studies show the BEST days to fly out are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

In my own experience I find that departing on a Saturday and returning on a Monday for domestic flights is typically a lesser fare. And, for international departing on a Tuesday and returning on a Wednesday hits that magic spot.

7. Travel to Where the Deals Are

Different DMO’s (Destination Marketing Offices) work with airlines directly to lower rates coming in to their market. They do this as an attempt to lure in more tourism. Why not take advantage of it?

The BEST way to find these deals is to use one of the following search engines: Kayak, Google Flights or FareCompare to see a worldwide map for inspiration on where you could go along with costs to fly there.

8. Utilize Stopovers and Multi-City Tickets

How to Book Cheap Flights | Global Munchkins

Sometimes you have to outsmart the system. Let’s say you want to get to Paris but direct flights are incredibly high. If you use the map feature as explained above you might find that a direct flight into London and then take a train ride to Paris is MUCH cheaper.

If you use a multi-city ticket option (as available in Google Flights) you can fly into London, take the train to Paris and then fly out of Paris back home.

9. Check the Airlines Website & Be Friends

How to Book Cheap Flights | Global MunchkinsAfter browsing your options on search engines make sure to check with the airlines own website before booking. You should also become friends with them on social media (like Facebook & Twitter) and sign up for their eNewsletter to see if you can find any deeper deals or discounts that way.

10. Be Inconvenienced

The HARD truth is sometimes we forgo comfort to save money. This means flying red eyes, including multiple stops and or extended layovers. Sometimes its worth the extra money (especially when traveling with kids) to book direct but when you just can’t wing it a long travel day may be the only option.

BONUS- Frequent Flyer Miles

Of course knowing how to get the most out of your frequent flyer miles is also key to cheaper airfare so make sure to follow The Points Guy and JohnnyJet for their best tips on the subject.

It is also important to know the airline alliances. The 3 major ones are: SkyTeam, STAR and OneWorld.

SkyTeam: Transports more than 400 million passengers every year to over 845 destinations. Members include: Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Continental Airlines, Czech Airlines, KLM, Delta Airlines, Korean Air + a few more. The alliance covers a large number of cities in every continent of the world.

STAR: This alliance transports over 455 million passengers every year to over 900 destinations.  Members of this alliance include: Air Canada, Air China, Austrian Airlines, BMI, Lufthansa, South African Airways, Singapore Airlines, Swiss International airlines, Turkish Airlines, US Airways and United Airlines.

OneWorld: Reaches more than 600 destinations and transports about 320 million passengers every year. The members of OneWorld include: British Airways, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, LAN, Qantas, Japan Airlines, Malev and Royal Jordanian Airlines.

The reason you need to know about the alliance members is most will allow you to share air miles within their alliance making it easier for you to add up frequent flyer miles quickly. The alliances do block some sharing so you need to check out the details. OneWorld although the smaller of the big three is known to have better redemption for international and domestic first class awards. Read more here.

Pin for Later-

How to Book Cheap Flights | Global Munchkins

Do you know some tips I missed?

Leave them in the comments I love learning new tips!

For more of my BEST Travel Tips check out these articles:

Learn all of my tips and tricks to earning miles so you and your family can fly for free. Plus, check out all of the other ways I save money on travel.

Find everything you need to know about things to do in Maui. Planning a trip to Maui here are all the best activities in Maui for families. Tons of ideas for things to do with kids in Maui. Click through to see my list.

These are the BEST Travel Hacks I have seen on Pinterest. Just booked a family vacation using these tips and I can't believe how much I saved!!!
How to Travel with Kids and love every minute from a travel writer who has five kids ages 3-14 years old. She's been traveling since her oldest was 3 months old. Tons of excellent tips. Click to check it out

23 Comments

  • lisa says:

    Great info! This choices me hope for traveling with my herd!!

  • Aishwarya S says:

    I swear I didn’t know any of this! Thanks for sharing this information!! 🙂

  • The timing of this article is perfect, as I am trying to plan several trips for this year and there are a couple where the flights are on us. The cost of flying (especially overseas) with a full family is always so crazy! Pinning this so I can remember to check back again soon. Thanks for the great tips!
    Marlynn @ UrbanBlissLife recently posted…DIY Bliss: Game Day Party PrintablesMy Profile

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Awesome… I know it adds up SO fast! Definitely,follow The Flight Deal and Secret Flying on twitter too. They are great at picking up mistake fares and insane deals.

  • Great, solid tips for finding cheap airfare! We travel internationally often, so I know first hand that the above tips are right on target. 🙂

  • Cassandra says:

    Thank you! I am on the lookout for ways to save on flights and this post is life saver.

  • Sarah Harris says:

    Great advice! I pinned to my travel page!

  • GiGi Eats says:

    It’s crazy to think that simply CLEARING YOUR CACHE will make a difference! So weird!
    GiGi Eats recently posted…(Not A) Fashion Faux Pas-ta PuttanescaMy Profile

  • Susan Martin says:

    This is perfect. I never seem to have all the information at my fingertips, and this puts it right there! Thanks!

  • Dana says:

    Great tips! I love using Google Flights It helps me get ideas on when to travel. I haven’t used HipMunk, so I’ll add that to my list to check next time.

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Google flights used to be my go to… that and the matrix. However, more recently I open HipMunk and Momondo and can usually score something good. That and Secret Flying… they post amazing error fares on twitter if you don’t mind grabbing the deal and going somewhere you might not have thought of previously. Its a fun game 🙂 I scored Australia from LAX with return for $415. And, LAX to Prague and back for $363. Had no intention of going previously but jumped on the deals 😉

  • Sarah Ebner says:

    Love all these tips – so useful. I think it’s sometimes hard to accept that cheap flights may be inconvenient, but if you accept that, I think there are so many options ahead of you. The incognito window is a brilliant one too – I’ve been stung by that before!

  • Great tips, Skyscanner is my go-to site, I spend hours browsing on there!! 🙂

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Me too!! Although, lately Secret Flying and The Flight Deal get ALL my attention. Crazy good flights are posted daily there 😉

  • Great tips, I’m pinning this. What I always find difficult is the ‘be flexible’ part. When traveling with school-going children we are bound to school holidays (we live in Belgium and here they are really strict about it). Christmas break is the most expensive time, but it’s also the case for the spring break and summer holidays… Therefore we book our flights as soon as possible and it works for us. Just out of curiosity I sometimes check what similar flights cost 6 months, 4 months, 3 months before the flight, and I never – not once – found a cheaper deal than what we paid by booking well in advance. But I’m sure it’s not the case during other periods. When the kids were younger we used to wait for the special deals and could fly much cheaper.
    Jurga – Full Suitcase recently posted…Why There Is Always an Excuse Not to Travel with KidsMy Profile

  • Robin says:

    This is an incredible article! I learned a few things!!! Thank you!
    Robin recently posted…Disney Swan Resort RenovationMy Profile

  • Michela says:

    Excellent tips for finding cheap flights. It is indeed cheaper to use multiple destinations. I recently find a deal by using a budget airline to cover one trip leg, instead of using the same airline for all flight legs.

  • Glen says:

    Great tips! I find these all to be true too, as well as clearing cookies and searching in incognito mode! Look out for good search engines like Skyscanner, Momondo or Kayak.

  • Alex Swartz says:

    Have you actually booked a flight to Europe through Momondo? It goes through kiwi.com and I’m just wondering how reliable it is. Saying it will take your payment then ~30 minutes later you should receive a confirmation email about flight/booking information. Seems a little sketch

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Hello Alex, yes we have booked through Momondo. But, Momondo is an aggregator so you never book directly through them. They just find and post the deals for you using their algorithms. That said I looked up Kiwi.com and they seem very reliable. You can read reviews here- https://www.trustpilot.com/review/kiwi.com. As always please use your best judgment as I only post information that I find online. I have not used kiwi.com directly and so I cannot speak for their service as I have not had any experiences with them yet. Best of luck 🙂

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