Brought to you by Jenny Reed
To say that traveling with the family is expensive is an understatement so grievous that it practically misses the point. An increasing number of families give up their vacations and holiday trips because they can't afford to fly, and driving with the entire family is just as big a hassle. You don't have to sacrifice, however, nor do you have to try taking three kids under 10 on a 16-hour drive; you just have to use smarter tactics when you shop for airfare.
Embrace Acrobatic Flight Times
Maybe you can't contort yourself enough to lick your elbow, but you can still exercise a little flexibility. When most families travel, they naturally try to leave on the weekends. That's typically the start of your vacation when you work, and you want to make the most of your time off; you'll head back to work all-too-soon. However, this unwillingness to travel on a Tuesday or a Wednesday is really costing you.
Everyone wants to fly on the weekends, and you're all competing for your seats. Because there are so many weekend travelers, and you're with a larger group, you'll pay for the privilege of a Saturday or Sunday flight. You should likewise avoid Fridays and Mondays. If you're willing to leave in the middle of the week, you'll enjoy cheaper prices, shorter lines, and fewer crowds. Choosing to fly in the off-season or on holidays will also help you save.
Become a More Effective Packer
Baggage fees can really cost you. Understandably, when you're traveling with children, you have to pack more. If your kids are younger, you have to bring everything in the house with you. Still, think about where you're going. Find out what Jet Blue has to say about baggage rules and fees. Consider getting some of the things you need at your destination. Try to pack the most important items in the carry-ons so you can get away with packing just one or two suitcases.
Comparison Shop in a New Way
Booking tickets for a family gets a little complicated. If you're trying to book for five people at a certain price, for instance, and there are only four seats available in your price point, your group gets bumped up to a more expensive ticket price. When you try to book the family and get frustrated by the price, calm down and start again. This time, try pricing tickets for just one person. If it's possible, you can simply buy one ticket separately—or buy separate sets. That might end up being cheaper.
Make a Family Connection
Image via Flickr by Carissa Rogers
Non-stop flights are exorbitant compared to connections. While it's difficult to get through the airport with kids, it's better than giving up your vacation altogether. Choosing connecting flights will save you so much money, and it's not horribly frustrating if you're organized. Simply give yourselves plenty of time and, if possible, think about sending some of your baggage ahead of you—ship it, if it comes to that.
Don't skip your family vacation because you think you can't afford the airfare. Along with travel deals and websites, these tips will help you enjoy that important time together.