Family vacations are only fun during the actual trip. Before and after? Not so much. Between all the travel bookings beforehand and the credit card bills upon return, I’m often left wondering: Why did we ever go in the first place?
If you’re like me, knowing that I’m saving some money along the way can make the entire experience more enjoyable. Here are some money and sanity-saving tips that have worked for me.
#1 Skip the last class ticket
Have you heard of last class? It’s the unofficial name for seats that are worse than those in economy class. You’re typically paying 10 to 20% less for tickets because there are no seat assignments, no refunds, and no upgrades. Major airlines like Delta and American Airlines are rolling out with these fares in order to compete with popular budget airlines like Spirit and Frontier.
If you’re traveling alone and don’t care where you sit, this could be a good option for you. But for families, it’s not worth the savings, because you’ll likely sit apart from your kids.
Instead, just book smart to save. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are not only the best days to book your tickets, they’re also the optimal days to depart and return from trips.
#2 Skip paying for a separate seat for your child
If you’re traveling with a child under the age of two, skip paying full price for a separate seat and go with the free “infant in arms” option. Why? Because you can probably get the additional seat for free.
Before my son turned two, we flew five times with him during high travel seasons and always got his seat for free. How? When choosing seat assignments, select a window and an aisle seat in the same row, leaving the middle seat empty. Once you’ve boarded the plane, the person in the middle seat will gladly move to any empty seat they can find because, let’s face it, no one wants to be stuck next to a fussy baby on a flight.
If the flight is completely booked, you can probably just switch seats with the person who’s in that middle seat and be close to your family. But in my experience, even when they say flights are completely booked, there are always one or two seats left open. Flight crews are usually willing to help you play musical chairs so that everyone can have the best possible experience while in the air.