Buying plane tickets for everyone in the family can take a huge bite out of your family vacation budget. Often finding family airfare deals can mean the difference between a fabulous family vacation or yet another staycation. This is why we love passing along any great tips we find that can help our parents find cheap flights. We love it when we can save our families money when they travel!
If you're trying to find cheap flights, then you should know about Kayak. This website is a great research tool that can help you plan and budget for your next vacation. Say you're trying to find cheap flights to Florida...You enter your travel dates and airport cities just once into Kayak. Kayak is a mega search engine for travel. It goes out to many of the large travel companies and airline websites, crunches all the numbers, dates and options and then allows you to filter down all this information. It helps you to find the best travel dates to fly, the best prices, flight schedules and options for your family. Of course, if you want, you can buy your airline tickets or hotels right then and there from Kayak...but wait, there's more...
Kayak recently crunched all of the numbers that went thru their computers for 2012. They took these billions of bits of data and just published a tip sheet on how to find cheap flights. Much of this data proved some facts that we've been telling our parents for some time.
The Kayak report said that the months of September, October and January were the cheapest months to fly domestically in the U. S. We would agree with this and also toss in the first two weeks of December too. If you are a family with pre school age kids, a family that home schools or the type of parents that don't worry too much about the school calendar... if you want to save some money you should be planning your vacation around these times.
If you have school age kids and want to vacation during the summer months, Kayak says August is the cheapest month to fly during the summer. It's true! The busiest summer travel time is from mid June to about the 3rd week in July. Many school districts are heading back to the classroom earlier and sports teams start practice in August. The later in August you can travel, the more you will save on airfare.
Kayak says the cheapest months for International travel are February and March. This is certainly true for Europe destinations. If your family has their heart set on a European family vaction, then definitely plan to go for President's week or spring break if it falls before the end of March. This is how you'll score a great deal on cheap flights to Europe.
Many novice travelers might read Kayak's report and think cheap International flights might also mean great deals to Mexico and the Caribbean. True, you do need a passport and these are considered international destinations but February and March are high season for Mexico and the Caribbean. Due to supply and demand you won't be finding deals here in February and March. Contrary to want Kayak says, you'll find deals to these popular "interntational" destinations during the same time as with domestic travel...September, October and early December . Sometimes you can also find cheap fligths to Mexico and the Caribbean in mid January before high season kicks into full gear or May before school gets out.
If there is one exception that we take with the kayak report, it's the part that says you'll find the cheapest airline ticket prices if you wait to book 35-21 days prior to departure. Remember, Kayak is crunching all kinds of flight statistics as it spits out its recommendations like corporate business travel, weekend warriors and leisure travelers. It's different if you are trying to find cheap airfare deals for an entire family for their vacation.
Remember, travel is all about supply and demand. So think for a minute...when do most families want or need to fly? The most popular fly times for most families are the December holidays, Spring break and summer vacations - any time the kids are out of school. During high demand family travel periods supply dwindles quickly and prices soar dramatically. This is why we say time and again...Planning a family vacation is like planning a family - you need to work nine months in advance to get the best selection and pricing. I know what you're thinking, Kayak has all the computer data from billions of travel searches. Still when it comes to family travel we disagree and if you need more explanation or convincing, check this recent blog post.
Once again, Kayak is a great tool for research and budgeting but it is not the end all for finding cheap airline tickets. This is how we pros use Kayak...I was chosen by the tourism board to attend a seminar in Oahu, on planning family destination weddings in Hawaii. Yes, this travel agent was looking for cheap flights to Hawaii. I needed to be in Waikiki from March 11 thru the 16th. I did a Kayak search for these travel dates. I saw that airline tickets for those travel dates were pricing between $1,800 and $2,200...YIKES!
Kayak's calendar showed that if I could extend my travel dates from March 6 thru March 18, the cost of my airline ticket would drop to less than HALF!...YEAH!
But... like a smart travel agent, I am privy to other wholesalers and sources that are not searched by Kayak's mega computers. These are the same options that we offer our clients. Bottom line - I booked myself a $630 nonstop flight on United from Newark along with 7 extra nights at the Hyatt Place in Waikiki for a total of $1,200. I saved a total of $600 and had the luxury of 7 extra days to inspect 36 more hotels. This gave me more time to gain additional knowledge to help our families plan more trips to this great destination. (OK...I admit, it also allowed me to spend one whole afternoon eating shaved ice watching the hot surfer dudes on Waikiki but please don't let me staff know or they will be really pissed because they think I was working the entire time!)