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Tomorrow we are heading back to Florida, for the second weekend in a row! I keep getting asked just how we save so much money on hotels, and lately, how to save money on flights. Of course, the best way to answer this question is to write a blog post about it! The truth is, you don’t have to use credit cards and points to save on flights. You don’t have to have some kind of vacation membership. you just have to be savvy and flexible. We have recently discovered a few different ways to save on flights and hotels, and they’re definitely worth sharing!
How to save money on flights
Our latest flights cost just $58 per person, round trip! You wouldn’t expect flights this cheap from two airports that were close together, much less St. Louis to Orlando. So, just how are we finding flights so cheap? The biggest thing that I’ve been doing recently is using Airfare Watchdog. It’s kind of a pain to use the site, but it really works. You can sign up for alerts from your local airport, and they will come directly to your inbox. You do need to act quickly, because like anything else, a good deal will go quickly. On a daily basis, I see flight deals through budget airlines like Frontier and Southwest, along with the “big” airlines like American and United. The prices vary wildly, but I’ve seen flights to many different cities for under $100, round trip!
In addition to using Airfare Watchdog, we’ve been booking flights almost exclusively through Frontier Airlines. Frontier is a budget airline, and they don’t fly everywhere. However, if you’re looking to fly to major cities in the continental US (along with a few other locations) they have great regular prices and amazing sales. For Frontier’s route map, click here. I flew quite a bit on Frontier years ago, but they’ve changed a lot since then. (**I am not an affiliate and I don’t receive any benefit if you book through Frontier, I am just genuinely excited about the great prices!)
More on Frontier Airlines
The first thing that you’ll need to do is sign up for the Frontier Newsletter. You will receive notifications when they are offering a special fare or promo code. This is the best way to get information on sales and promotions first.
On that note, shameless self promotion, you should also sign up for our weekly newsletter. We send out emails when we spot great travel deals, so you don’t want to miss it!
Back to Frontier. I’ve regularly spotted deals to multiple destinations for under $100, round trip. The airline is based in Denver, so deals to Denver are frequent. You can also find fares to Las Vegas, Orlando (another main location for Frontier) and other popular tourist destinations dirt cheap. These tickets can be purchased in advance if you want to lock in a great deal, but we bought our Orlando tickets last week on the same day as the flight for $57/ticket.
You should know that your ticket through Frontier includes airfare and that is about it. Bags, soft drinks, and pretty much anything else is extra. Most airlines allow a carry on for free, but Frontier charges $35. If you are a minimalist packer, this shouldn’t be a problem. You can still have a personal item (one that will fit under your seat, 14x18x8) which works to carry the basic necessities. I recommend a backpack or another small bag. Brandon has this Evecase backpack from Amazon and he loves it. It was only $50 and he is able to carry camera gear, a small drone, some clothing and toiletries very easily.
There are no in-flight drinks or snacks unless you pay for them, so pack snacks and drinks accordingly. We use Baiji water bottles to save space, this is especially important with luggage restrictions. Frontier has another option to upgrade to “the works” where you get a carry on, checked bag, refundability, (free) seat selection and priority boarding. We have not utilized this service, but it would be worth the cost if you are flying with a lot of luggage.
Car seats, strollers, etc.
Remember that things like car seats, strollers and diaper bags do not count as personal/checked/carry on items. The airline will check to make sure your car seat is aircraft compatible, otherwise it will need to be checked. A stroller will also need to be checked, but you do not have to pay for it.
Should you put your children in car seats on the plane? I was actually surprised that there weren’t any other kids in car seats on the plane. Several parents brought car seats, but checked them. Although a car seat won’t do anything in the unlikely event of a plane crash, I do think that it’s a safe option for kids during any turbulence. It also helps younger kids stay in one place, instead of crawling all over the plane. Garrick (who turned 4 during out last trip) is used to road trips, so he didn’t think anything of being in the car seat for the entire flight.
Which car seat to use
We use a Graco Nautilus at home, but we used an Evenflo Tribute LX on the plane. I actually didn’t like this seat when we purchased it, but it worked great for travel! It’s very lightweight and fits perfectly in a small plane seat. Although I don’t recommend it for normal use, I highly recommend it for travel. Don’t forget that you’ll need car seats once you reach your destination (if you’re renting a car) so it makes sense to take your own whether you check it or use it on the plane.
A word on seat selection
The middle seats are “free” with your flight purchase. When you go to your seat selection, it will want you to pay extra for almost any other seat. We took a gamble and did not select our seats. When we checked in, our three seats were together anyway. I don’t feel like seat selection is necessary, because they’re probably going to put your party together anyway. So I personally would not do the seat selection. You can “check in” 24 hours before your flight and see which seats you have. If they are not together, then you can “upgrade” the seats at that time.
Final thoughts of Frontier
Flying is rarely a luxurious experience, so I didn’t feel like I was giving up that much by flying with a budget airline. I will continue to choose Frontier for flights, unless I come across a better price with another airline. You don’t get much with your Frontier flight, but if you’re willing to make some sacrifices, the price is well worth it.
Get cash back on travel purchases
This is switching gears a bit, but there one more important way that we save money on travel. One big thing that I do to save money on flights, along with lodging and car rentals, is using Ebates. In fact, I make sure to use Ebates for everything that we purchase online. Ebates does not technically save you money, but you will get cash back later. When it comes to big purchases like flights and hotels, the cash back can really add up. Make sure to use our link to get $10 when you first sign up. I wrote a post on my other blog that goes into more detail about how to use Ebates, so check it out if you want to know more!
If you’re looking to save money on flights, make sure to sign up for deals from Airfare Watchdog. Again, I recommend checking out Frontier for bargain flights, especially if you pack light or aren’t very picky. Don’t forget to sign up for Ebates, I get several hundred dollars every year in cash back for things I would have purchased anyway! Looking for more ways to save money on travel? You will want to check out two simple tricks to save on hotels and lodging. Do you have any tips for saving on flights that I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
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