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  • Part of the fun of family vacations is the anticipation--counting down the days until the big trip. Sometimes, though, the excitement is also in impromptu holidays; the kind where the kids jabber nonstop to try to convince you to push through with it, and everyone’s willing to pack their bags in mere minutes.  

    For trips that require a plane ride, the best way to save on fares is to book at least six months ahead. But when you have to look for flights mere three months or weeks away, a few sacrifices may be needed. Here's what you need to keep in mind.  

    1. Cut your research time for deals with apps. 

    Ideally, you do some intensive research by visiting each airline's website to compare prices, and you need to do it on different days and times just to see if you are snagging a good deal. Believe us when we say it can consume so much of your time. This is where Google Flights and ITA Matrix come in. You can browse for dates that can save you money and time, and you can find the best price for flights, all in one site. You can also the phone app Hopper that is one of our favorite airfare prediction apps like showing you the cheapest months to fly to a future destination. 

    Remember, the websites listed above are convenient places to compare ticket prices on offered by different airlines. Get the tickets that you like best by visiting the airline’s website. In our experience, when Cebu Pacific offers promo deals, it is usually posted on Tuesdays and Thursdays at dawn (like 12:30 am onwards). 

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    2. Be flexible. 
    Anyone who has flown on a promo ticket knows that you need to be flexible with departure and/or arrival times. Cheap fares often belong to flights leaving late at night and arriving at 4 a.m. Consider also flying in from a different airport. We find that flights from Clark Airport, for instance, come at a lower price than the airports in Manila (travel time from Manila to Clark can take just an hour and a half maximum). If your international flight lands at an airport that serves lots of domestic/local flights (read: serve a lot of budget-conscious vacationers), fares can be less costly. 

    3. Consider buying separate tickets.
    When flying with a group, it’s better to search for ticket prices for one person first. This is so you know how much just one ticket costs. So now when you search for tickets for your whole family, you’ll have an idea if you’re buying it for more or for less. It might be cheaper to split into smaller groups. Yes, you won’t be sitting together but at least you’ll have more to spend at your destination. 

    4. Check for promos. 
    Local airlines Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific usually always have a promo going on. You can bet that right now, as you’re reading this, both airlines will have something in their “Promos” tab on their websites. Always make a quick check there before booking. 

    It’s also wise to subscribe to newsletters as airlines sometimes offer hidden discounts to subscribers. You’ll also notice that both local airlines have boxes for promo codes in their search bars. Use this to your advantage. You never know, maybe a quick Google search will bring up something useful. 

    5. Know what comes with your seat. 
    Does your ticket already include airline fees? How about snacks and checked-in baggage? Sometimes, a ticket only appears cheap because the airline has charged a la carte prices. It may come as a shock for those who bought the tickets that they need to pay extra for airline fees, taxes, check-in baggage, seat, etc., and they end up paying more. 

    Sources: Afar, Skyscanner

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