Kayak alert
Family Travel Hacking Guide

Family Travel Hacking Guide 05: Saving Money on Cash Flights

To do: Answer the following questions – 1) Is there a destination you want to travel to next year when your dates are fixed? 2) In the next year, do you have free time to travel where you’re open to different destinations?

At this point, we’ve done a lot of the background stuff to get you ready to hack your family’s next vacation. Most of travel hacking involves leveraging frequent flyer miles to greatly reduce the cost of travel. One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that for busy families, sometimes that is a bit too much.

So here’s the deal: we’re going to take a little detour before we get to that stuff. The bottom line is, if you can at least save money on your flights, you’re coming out ahead. There’s a lot more money to be saved, but the next few posts in this series will be dedicated to helping you save money booked on flights with cash if you ain’t got time for the rest. Then we’ll get into the really good stuff. 🙂

This first post is to introduce you to some of the sites I use. These are sites I personally like but every travel hacker has their own favorites. For the most part I try to focus on sites and programs that do their own research, but I admit that I don’t pay too much attention unless I have personal knowledge of a site.

Different sites fulfill different tasks. Sometimes I need to find flights between certain cities on certain dates. Sometimes I know when I have time off and I want to see where I can go on the cheap. And sometimes I just like seeing alerts for super cheap fares – if they’re cheap enough I might move my schedule around to accommodate them (though admittedly, that’s pretty rare for a parent of two).

Here are some of the websites and apps we’ll be looking at in the next few posts.

Saving Money on Cash Flights


Years ago, before we had M, Jess and I flew to Madrid for a weekend on a $325 fare. We found the fare on www.airfarewatchdog.com, which has been a favorite site of mine ever since. The amount of information airfarewatchdog spits out can sometimes be overwhelming; I’ll be offering some top tips in the next installment that will hopefully help you curate the information you want and need.

Saving Money on Cash Flights

The Flight Deal

I’m sure The Flight Deal and airfarewatchdog consider one another competitors, but as a consumer, I love that both of these sites exist. As far as I can tell, The Flight Deal started more as an amazing resource for mileage runners, but as revenue based fares have become more the norm it has just evolved into an amazing resource full stop. While not as comprehensive overall, The Flight Deal’s curation of deals opens up a lot of great possibilities if you are flexible with your destination. It also helps simplify things since it doesn’t cover everything, and that’s a good thing when you’re short on time.

Saving Money on Cash Flights


Although some newer sites and apps are possibly going to make Kayak obsolete soon, it continues to remain great for flexible searches and setting price alerts when you know where and when you want to go. It’s simple to use and still one of my go to sites, although the next site on this list is definitely catching up quickly.



Google Flights

There is a great website called ITA Matrix which is a very powerful search tool. It’s one flaw is that it lacks a key component a consumer needs: the ability to book directly from the website. Google bought ITA and integrated the technology into Google Flights. The result? A powerful search tool with enough functionality for any end user, including beginning travel hackers!

Saving Money on Cash Flights


The only mobile app on this list, Hopper is a great little tool for keeping an eye on ticket prices. Like Kayak and Google Flights, you start by specifying dates and travel points. The app will then tell you whether to book or wait (and why, which is cool). If it advises you to wait it will automatically monitor ticket prices for you and alert you when it thinks you should buy. Neat.

Final Thoughts

This is just a brief overview of some of the tools out there. Over the next few posts I’ll be going into a little more detail about how I use these tools to get the cheapest cash airfare possible. For today’s to do, just ask yourself the questions I posited: your answers will affect which of these tools is the best for your needs. In the meanwhile, feel free to mess around with these sites, they’re definitely worth a deeper look!

To do: Answer the following questions – 1) Is there a destination you want to travel to next year when your dates are fixed? 2) In the next year, do you have free time to travel where you’re open to different destinations?

Family Travel Hacking Guide Index


Set a Travel Goal

Using and Tracking Frequent Flyer Programs

Who to Follow on Social Media

Part 1: Saving Money on Cash Flights

Saving Money on Cash Flights

How to find cheap airfare with airfarewatchdog

Finding cheap airfare with The Flight Deal

Finding the cheapest airfare using Kayak alerts

Using Hopper to monitor flight prices

Using Google Flights to search airfare

Part 2: Earning miles and points efficiently and cheaply

The power of miles and points

Saving Money on Cash Flights




Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less

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