Are you hoping for a family vacation this year but find your dreams dampened by the high costs of flights? It’s possible to jet off to fantastic destinations without draining your wallet. Here’s how we find the best family flights that won’t break your budget.

From fare comparison tools to smart seat selection strategies, you’ll discover a world of opportunities to save money on your flights and make your family trip a reality. Here’s how we find cheap flights:

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase based on our recommendation, we may receive a commission at no cost to you. We have three boys and can’t keep the fridge full no matter how often we visit the grocery store. You understand.


Maximizing Your Travel Budget with Family-Friendly Airfare Deals

Have you ever wondered how some families always seem to find cheap flights for their vacations? It’s not magic; it’s strategy. Knowing the details of booking flights allows you to find fantastic deals that will extend your travel budget, making your dream trip achievable.

Our favorite tool for comparing flight prices and finding excellent travel deals is By making use of fare comparison tools, subscribing to price alerts, and investigating bundle offers, you can economize on flights and allocate more to creating unforgettable experiences for your family.

Best plane luggage for kids

Finding cheap family-friendly plane tickets takes some work but is worth the effort

(Side note: yes, we make our kids handle their own luggage. Here’s the best kids luggage for traveling on planes.)

Utilize Fare Comparison Tools

Fare comparison tools, such as airline search engines, are your best allies in the quest to find cheap flights. Websites such as Skyscanner, Google Flights, and Kayak offer comprehensive flight search engines that can scour the internet for the best prices. You can enter your departure date, city and desired destination, and the tool will present a range of flight options from different airlines. You can then compare prices and choose the best deal for your family trip.

Our favorite one of these tools is hands down. If you’re simply exploring options try the “Everywhere” setting for destination and it will show you a variety of destinations you could fly to from your home airport to find the least expensive (and often an unexpected deal) to various destinations.

use skyscanner to find the best family flight deals

We love using Skyscanner to find the best deals on flights

The beauty of these tools is their ability to provide a wealth of information in mere seconds, saving you the hassle of visiting each airline’s website individually.

Sign Up for Price Alerts

Staying updated in the ever-changing world of airfare deals can be challenging. But what if you could receive notifications whenever the price of a flight changes? By signing up for price alerts on websites like Skyscanner or Google Flights, you’ll get timely updates on the latest deals and discounts for your desired routes.

This means you can act quickly when prices drop and secure cheap flight deals before they’re gone. It’s like having a personal assistant who’s always on the lookout for the best prices for you!

If you’re interested in open-ended destinations (like from your local airport to wherever there may be a price promotion) then another option is Going (previously Scott’s Cheap Flights)

Explore Bundle Offers

Have you ever considered booking your flights, accommodations, and car rentals all at once? Bundle offers can be a goldmine of savings. These packages combine multiple services at a discounted price, offering amazing deals for families looking to save money on their trips. Offers like this most often apply to package deals – like an all-inclusive resort or a tour vacation, but if you end up needing flights, hotels, and a car rental, this is worth considering.

While it’s important to read the terms and conditions carefully to understand what’s included, bundle offers can be a convenient and cost-effective way to plan your family vacation.

Flexibility is Key to Booking Cheap Family Flights

Flexibility is your secret weapon when it comes to finding cheap flights. By being open to different routes, travel dates, departure points, and even destinations, you can unlock cheaper flights and make your travel budget go further.

We’ve found deep discounts by being flexible to fly even one day before or after our original planned date, or by driving to a slightly further airport. (For instance, when we spent 3 months pet sitting in England, we found a deal that allowed us to fly our family of 5 from Boston to London which was 20% less than flying from New York to London).

Here are some strategies to consider to optimize your flexibility:

  • Opting for off-peak travel times (like an overnight or redeye flight or lengthening your vacation by a day to fly out on Thursday instead of Friday or return on Monday instead of Sunday.)
  • Consider using alternative airports and departure points. What else might be close by within a couple of hours’ drive? Be sure to check out the smaller airports nearby (not just the massive ones) since some of these airlines are looking to fill flights in less demand.
  • Consider a flight with an overnight layover. Find a hotel with a shuttle and staying overnight to fly out the next day can save you more than the cost of the hotel OR if you have travel points with an AMEX Platinum card or Marriott Bonvoy, you could be using points for the hotel, so it doesn’t cost anything for that overnight layover.

Choose Off-Peak Travel Times

Traveling during off-peak times can significantly lower your flight costs. These could be shoulder seasons, weekdays, or times when your destination is not in high demand. For instance, flying on a Tuesday or Wednesday can often be cheaper than flying on a Friday or Sunday.

Likewise, choosing to travel during shoulder seasons – the periods between peak and off-peak seasons – can also offer great savings. Plus, these times usually have milder weather and fewer crowds, making your family trip even more enjoyable.

Consider Alternative Departure Points

Did you know that the airport you fly from can impact the price of your flight? By being open to driving a bit further to a nearby airport, you can potentially save a lot of money. This strategy can be especially effective in areas with multiple airports, such as nearby airports in the New York or Los Angeles metropolitan areas.

So, the next time you use a flight search engine for flights, consider entering a region instead of a specific airport as your departure point. You might be surprised by the cheaper flights you can find!

Opt for Midweek Departures

Midweek departures are another great way to find cheap flights. Many families tend to travel on weekends, leading airlines to increase their prices. But if you can be flexible with your travel dates and depart on a Tuesday or Wednesday, you’ll likely find better deals. It’s a simple shift that can make a significant difference in your travel budget.


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The Perks of Loyalty: Leveraging Frequent Flyer Programs

Loyalty pays off, especially when it comes to booking family flights. Many airlines offer frequent flyer programs that reward you for consistently choosing their services. These programs allow you to earn points or miles for every flight you take, which you can then redeem for free flights, upgrades, and other perks.

Joining these programs is often free, making it a no-brainer for families who travel often. But to truly maximize these programs, you need to understand how to earn and redeem points effectively.

Joint or Family Accounts

Some frequent flyer programs offer family accounts, which allow multiple members of a family to pool their points together. This means that every flight your family takes can contribute to your collective pool of points, allowing you to earn rewards faster. Some airlines even allow minors to have their own accounts, so your little ones can start earning points for the family as well.

Hence, it makes sense to use this feature and see your family’s points increase.

Earn and Redeem Points Wisely

Earning points is just the first step in leveraging frequent flyer programs. Knowing how to redeem them wisely is equally important. Some airlines offer better value when you redeem points for flights, while others may provide better value for upgrades or other rewards. It’s also important to look out for promotions that airlines offer discounts or extra points for certain flights or purchases.

You might consider choosing an airline where you have accumulated points in the past over a cheaper airline. The points you gain in a single program might add up quicker than spreading loyalty points across multiple programs to save some money on one particular flight.

We often use Spirit Airlines when flying within the US, but Frontier is another low-cost option. (We don’t mind bringing our own snacks on the plane and flying with a personal bag only.) We’ll sometimes pay extra for the Spirit flight compared to a Frontier flight to have our points accumulate in one loyalty program rather than being spread thinner than butter on hot bread, so we can never accumulate enough for a free flight anyway.

Savvy Seat Selection Strategies

Choosing the right seats can make a world of difference in your flight experience – and your wallet. Airlines often charge extra for certain seats, such as those with extra legroom or those located in the front of the cabin. But with a bit of savvy, you can avoid these charges and still secure comfortable seats for your family.

Seat selection strategies can vary depending on the airline and the type of aircraft. However, there are a few general tips that can help you save money and ensure a comfortable flight for your family.

Avoid Unnecessary Upgrades

While it can be tempting to pay extra for premium seats, this may not always be necessary. Standard seats can often offer a comfortable flight experience, especially for shorter flights. And if your family doesn’t mind where they sit, you can save even more by letting the airline assign your seats.

Remember, every penny saved on seat selection can be used to make your family trip more memorable in other ways.

Check-in LATE

“Checking in early can give you a head start in securing the best seats.” – The airline that wants to assign you a middle seat and hopes you’ll pay to upgrade.

We’ve had the best success checking in late, especially with the budget airlines. People are flying budget for a reason, so it makes sense that they’re less likely to upgrade from a middle seat to an aisle or a window, leaving only aisles and window seats available to people who check in late.

While this isn’t a sure-fire strategy, if you’re willing to take whatever seat you get anyway, then checking in as you’re arriving in the airport could mean you get the seats that other passengers weren’t willing to upgrade to.

For example, on the last flight I took (Detroit to Fort Myers, FL), I checked in to get my boarding pass inside the airport and I was waiting in the security line. I was assigned an aisle seat in row 3 (usually a $35 upgrade on Spirit).


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Hidden Gems: Finding Value in Lesser-Known Airlines

When it comes to booking flights, it’s easy to default to the big, well-known airlines. But did you know that budget airlines can offer just as good – if not better – value for your money? These hidden gems often provide competitive prices, excellent service, and a comfortable flight experience.

Choosing a lesser-known airline can seem daunting, especially when it comes to safety and service. However, with a bit of investigation and careful consideration, you can find some exceptional deals and have an enjoyable flight experience.

We have had the experience that the more cost-effective airlines also are the most often to experience delays, so stay flexible and be prepared for the possibility of an extra 30 minutes here or there departing or arriving.

Be Aware of Extra Charges

One thing to keep in mind when booking with lesser-known airlines is that they often charge for things that are usually free with bigger airlines.

  • Checked baggage
  • Carry-on baggage (aside from a personal item like a laptop bag, purse, or small backpack, which so far is free for any airline as long as it fits under the seat)
  • Seat selection
  • In-flight meals, snacks, or beverages
  • Changes or cancellations to your flight
  • Emergency access to oxygen masks (ok, probably not, but we haven’t had an opportunity to verify)

However, even with these extra charges, you can often still save money compared to booking with a larger airline. Just be sure to factor in these costs when comparing prices, and you’ll be on your way to finding a great deal.

If you need access to these add-ons, they can add up quickly, so you might be better to pay 50% extra for that other airline flight that includes checked bags, for instance, than get the discount airline’s flight, which requires you to pony up for luggage, (especially if you can save the cost of a ticket for you 10-year-old by fitting him in the overhead compartment stocked with a fully-charged iPad and a bag of pretzels)

Insider Tactics for Family Flight Bookings

Want to take your flight booking game to the next level? It’s time to consider some insider tactics. These strategies may require more effort and flexibility, but the potential savings can make it all worthwhile.

From understanding the hidden city fares in ticketing to combining one-way tickets, these tactics can help you find cheaper flights and stretch your travel budget further. One of the best ways to take advantage of these tactics is to search ticket prices effectively. We can examine each tactic in detail.

Understand the Risks of Hidden City Ticketing (aka Skiplagging, aka “Book a flight past your destination and leave the airport at your layover stop”)

Hidden city ticketing is a savvy strategy where you book a flight with a layover at your actual destination and then skip the final leg of the journey. This can often result in cheaper fares, especially for long-haul routes. However, this strategy comes with risks, including potential penalties from airlines and the possibility of your return flight being canceled.

For instance, you’re in New York trying to get to London, so you book a cheaper ticket to Berlin that has a layover in London, and then at the layover, you leave the airport and don’t show up for the “London to Berlin” leg.

It’s frustrating that the New York to Berlin ticket (with a layover in London) can be less than booking the NY to London ticket BUT you run the risk of the airline blacklisting you (according to urban legends and some unverified campfire stories) that you won’t be able to book flights with that airline again.

Combine One-Way Tickets

Another insider tactic is to combine one-way flight tickets from different airlines. This can often result in cheaper fares compared to booking the same flight as a round-trip ticket with the same airline. Plus, it gives you the flexibility to choose the best flights for each leg of your journey. Just be sure to leave ample time between flights to account for any potential delays or schedule changes.

If you’ve booked a single ticket from NY to Berlin for instance with a layover in London, then it’s the airline’s responsibility to make up for a missed layover and find you another flight from London to Berlin if the first leg arrived late BUT if you book individual tickets (Ticket 1: NY to London, ticket 2: London to Berlin) then you’re on your own if the first flight is delayed and you can’t make you connection.

We like this strategy with an overnight layover to be sure we’ve given ourselves enough margin to make the next flight (and we’ve this option to sneak in quick visits to countries we might not have been able to see otherwise – we call them Bonus Countries).

riding the riverboat during a layover in Amsterdam

This 22 hour layover in Amsterdam was a “Bonus Country” on our trip to Europe. Time for a riverboat tour of the city, some foodtrucks, and a good night’s sleep at a hotel near the airport.


Making the Most of Travel Agents and Agencies

Travel agents and travel agencies may seem like a thing of the past in today’s digital age. In reality, they can offer valuable services that can make booking family flights easier and more cost-effective. Whether it’s their expert knowledge or exclusive access to deals, travel agents and agencies can help you navigate the complexities of booking flights and ensure that you get the best value for your money.

Especially if there’s a “Stress factor” then paying a bit more if necessary to have someone make your travel arrangements is worth the cost to help you enjoy your vacation without the stress of “what if”s.

Benefit from Expert Knowledge

Travel agents bring years of experience and expert knowledge to the table. They understand the ins and outs of the travel industry, and can provide insights and advice that you won’t find on travel booking websites. Whether it’s finding the best time to to book flights, navigating complex itineraries, or understanding airline policies, a travel agent can save you time and effort, and help you secure the best deals. Some benefits of using a travel agent include:

  • Access to exclusive deals and discounts
  • Personalized recommendations based on your preferences and budget
  • Assistance with travel insurance and visa requirements
  • 24/7 support in case of emergencies or changes to your travel plans

So, if you’re planning a trip and want a stress-free experience, consider working with a travel agent.

Exclusive Access to Deals

Travel agents often have exclusive access to deals and discounts that aren’t available to the general public. Thanks to their relationships with airlines and other travel providers, they can secure special rates and packages that can save you money.

So, don’t underestimate the value that a good deal from a travel agent can bring to your flight booking process. They might just have the perfect deal for your family’s next trip!

Preparing for the Journey: Finalizing Your Flight Details

Now that you have a wealth of strategies to find the best family flights, it’s time to prepare for your journey. Before you set off, it’s important to review your itinerary thoroughly and confirm all details. This includes your flight details, accommodations, and transportation arrangements.

By ensuring that everything is in order, you can avoid last-minute surprises and ensure a smooth and stress-free journey. We can consider how you can get ready for your journey and make sure your family trip is successful.

Review Itinerary Thoroughly

It’s easy to overlook details when you’re excited about a trip. But taking the time to review your itinerary thoroughly can save you from potential hassles down the road. Check your flight dates and times, confirm your seat assignments, and make sure your accommodation and transportation arrangements align with your flight schedule.

This way, you can catch any errors or discrepancies early, and have peace of mind knowing that everything is in order.

Confirm All Details

Finally, take the time to confirm all details with your airline and travel providers. This includes your passport information, special requests, and any other specific needs your family may have. By confirming these details in advance, you can ensure a smooth and seamless travel experience for your family.

Consider alternatives to cheap flights:

This suggestion might seem a bit counterintuitive for this blog post, but have you considered other options to get you where you’re going? What if a road trip could save you the cost of renting a car at your destination? OR what if some of your family flew (to avoid the never-ending road trip blues) and someone drove the car?

We found that in Europe, taking the train was even better than a flight in many cases; Sometimes in cost savings, and other times in time savings, since you don’t have to arrive at the train station much ahead of your train.

A 90-minute flight from Edinburgh to London actually can take 4 hours if you factor in arriving early and sitting at the airport compared to a 4-hour train trip at half the cost.

Here’s how trains and planes compare for an overseas trip.


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Wrap it up and put a bow on it:

From utilizing fare comparison tools and price alerts to booking cheap flights, leveraging frequent flyer programs and insider tactics, you now have a wealth of strategies to maximize your travel budget and make your dream family trip a reality.

Flexibility is key, and every penny saved on flights can be spent on creating memorable experiences for your family. So, why wait? Start planning your next family adventure today, and fly high without breaking the bank! We would start by exploring options with

If this is your first time flying as a family, you might find this blog post helpful:

Tips for traveling with kids on planes

Frequently Asked Questions

Do airlines offer family discounts?

Yes, some airlines do offer family discounts. Making a flight reservation with multiple travellers can often get you a discounted rate compared to booking for just one person.

Can I book a flight for a family member?

Yes, you can buy a plane ticket for someone else – it’s a great gift and also necessary for some situations. All you need is the right information before making the purchase.

What is the best way to find cheap flights for my family?

Take advantage of fare comparison tools, set price alerts, and explore bundle offers to get the most cost-effective flights. Flexibility with your travel dates, departure points, and destinations can also help you find great deals. Our favorite tool is

Can frequent flyer programs help me save money on family flights?

Yes, frequent flyer programs can help you save money on family flights by offering rewards such as free flights and upgrades. Maximize your points to reap the most benefits.

Are lesser-known airlines a good option for family flights?

Lesser-known airlines can offer great service at competitive prices, and are a great option for family flights. Just make sure to check the safety and service records, and be aware of any extra charges.

What other tips do you have to travel with a family on a budget?

We’re so glad you asked! Check out this blog post, all about traveling with kids on a budget!


Want to follow along with our family travels? Come hang out on Instagram!


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