- Whenever my five-person family travels, we try to save as much money as possible on flights.
- I use the Google Flights “explore” feature to browse deals for a variety of dates and destinations.
- Some airlines also offer cheaper rates at airport ticket counters than they do online.
Since my family of five plans on taking 22 trips this year, we have to stick to our budget.
One of the ways we save money is by finding great flight deals, so I’ve developed some tried-and-true strategies to make sure we book the least expensive fares possible.
Here’s how I found the most affordable flight options.
Try searching for deals on Google Flights
I’ve found almost all of our air-travel deals using Google Flights. The online flight-booking service is such a simple tool, but it allows us to find some great ticket prices.
Thanks to inexpensive rates we found on Google Flights, we were able to book a Costa Rica trip earlier this year and a five-week-long trip to Europe last year without overspending on airfare.
The best part is that this tool is completely free.
Use Google Flights’ ‘explore’ feature
When I look at Google Flights, I focus on the tool’s “explore” feature.
Since it isn’t the first page that comes up on Google Flights, I worry that not enough people use it, but it’s where I find the best deals.
All I have to do is add my preferred travel dates, which can be as specific or flexible as I want, input my home airport, and hit the “search” button.
Then, Google Flights does all the work for me. The deals show up on the map, and once I find one that fits, I can start building my trip.
Be as flexible as possible with travel dates and destinations
Most of the time, my family knows the general time frame of when we’d like to travel. However, we don’t necessarily have specific dates or destinations in mind.
This approach often works to our advantage, as browsing a range of places and dates opens up even more affordable travel opportunities.
Being flexible during the planning process allows us to search for the best deals out there.
Scroll through the Google Flights map and zoom in on different regions
I spend a lot of time on Google Flights looking for deals, and sometimes the best trip option doesn’t immediately appear on the map.
Google seems to suggest destinations that it thinks I’d like, but because I’m usually not set on one place, I like to find even more options by zooming in on the map and clicking around areas that interest me.
That way, I don’t miss any amazing deals on flights to less-touristed spots.
Some airlines offer cheaper rates at the airport than they do online
Several budget airlines still have ticket-booking services at the airport. In my experience, the rates that airlines offer there are almost always a bit lower than the prices they list online.
If I do preliminary research at home and head to the airline’s ticket counter, I can usually save around $60 per ticket. When you travel with five people, that adds up to a significant amount of savings.
I recently saved $300 on our flights to St. Thomas just because I bought our tickets at the airport instead of booking them online.
It’s worth noting that this tip doesn’t apply to every airline, so make sure you double-check before you drive to the airport. We’ve had the most success with budget airlines, like Frontier and Spirit.
Plan ahead to hunt for the best deal
In order to travel as much as my family does, I have to do a lot of planning. Because new deals pop up as flight schedules change, I check online prices anywhere from once per week to once per day.
If you want to take advantage of the ever-changing deals, I recommend monitoring prices as early and often as possible. As someone who regularly searches for flights, I can tell you that any day can be a good one to buy a flight. You never know when prices will drop.