How to Save Money on Your Next Vacation, Even After You Buy Your Airline Tickets

It pays to do your research, but when you’re on the hunt for the best deal for a flight for your next family vacation, you may get nervous when it comes to clicking on your final purchase, fearful that you’ll find a better deal later.

Booking airfares seems to be an area mired in confusion, changing rates, and endless schemes. From cookies being buried in your browser that raise the rates every time you perform the same search, to having to search at on airline sale days at midnight to get their best rates, a decent price on airline tickets is hard to find. This is because airlines, as well as the websites that sell tickets at the last minute, all rely on algorithms so that they can make the most money on your dime.

There are, however, websites that can ease the pain of booking airfare and help you get the lowest price.

Here’s how it works.

Get a refund on your airfares
Did you know that some airlines will give you a refund if the price goes down even after you buy your ticket? Yapta specializes in tracking flight prices, both before and after you buy. It’s a user-friendly site with a standard search engine. You can track the price changes (and you register with only your email, first name, and a password), receiving emails with weekly summaries, as well as special alerts when prices go down. If your flight goes down in price after you buy, you can get the difference refunded directly from the airline.

Pay less for longer flights
FareCompare helps you find the best times to buy flights, and use a map to see where you can go given your travel budget. You can also search flights for price-per-mile. FareCompare educates you on how to become better at hedging your bets so that you get the lowest price flights in the first place.

Choose the least expensive vacation destination
If you haven’t decided where you want to go on vacation, KayakExplore is a fun way to choose a destination. Enter your home city, and filter results by selecting maximum price points, countries/continents you’d like to visit, flight times, and even by weather and the things you want to do with your family on your next vacation.

General tips
Here’s how to get the best price on your vacation no matter where you decide to go.

  • Act fast. If you get an alert that the price has dropped, jump on it. Price drops can last as little as a few hours, depending on how many seats they release at the lower price and how popular the route is.
  • Buy at least 7 days in advance. As soon as you get to less than a week from departure, the price skyrockets. If you can convince an airline to give you a refund on the price difference, don’t expect cash. Instead, you’ll receive a credit or voucher with that airline for future travel.
  • Stop searching after you book. Once you’ve bought your ticket, do yourself a favor and stop searching. Just go and have fun!