Flying tips

Bring a travel car seat or inflatable airplane toddler bed.

Whether bringing a car seat on the plane will work best or just an inflatable airplane bed for toddlers, be prepared with the best option to keep your toddler content and help him sleep. We always had success getting our kids to sleep on an inflatable airplane toddler bed. We’ve used the Flyaway Kids Bed and the Fly Tot, both of which we were quite happy with. If those aren’t in your budget, check out these budget airplane travel beds. You can buy the Flyaway Kids Bed directly from their website. If you find it to be out of stock, we recommend signing up to be notified when it’s back in stock so you don’t miss out.

Try different ways to get your toddler to sleep on the plane.

Make sure your toddler has time to burn off some energy in the airport and to explore his new surroundings on the plane. You want him tired, but not over tired, and ready for sleep. When it is time to sleep (on an overnight flight), we have tried to get him to lay down by repeatedly telling him “head down, time to sleep” and not engaging with him otherwise. This has worked pretty consistently but usually takes a while and involves some crying. On our last flight, I positioned the iPad so he had to lay down, which helped him to calm down on his own and eventually fall asleep. If it’s not an overnight flight, I don’t stress about naps. Check out these family friendly airports! Perfect for getting your toddler to burn off some energy before the flight!

Let your toddler play first.

Trying to stick to our schedule, I’ve tried to get him to sleep too soon and failed miserably. I’ve learned that it’s best to wait at least an hour (unless he’s tired enough and falls asleep on his own. I think this happened once?). Let the food and beverage service finish so everyone is settled and there are far less distractions around. This has been our best chance for getting him to sleep. Check out these inflatable airplane beds for toddlers to give your toddler all the room to play, eat and sleep.

Have fun toddler airplane activities to cycle through.

In our toddler travel toys post (mentioned above), we give sample activities that our kids have enjoyed at each stage. This is our starting point then we adjust depending on what our kids are interested in most at the moment. If they love Paw Patrol, we will get a Paw Patrol Color Wonder book. We also try games and movies out at home. Our kids love reading, so the Epic! digital library app is an great alternative to cartoons – simply download some Read To Me books onto your iPad prior to the flight. Our 2 year loves trucks, so we got the Trucks & Diggers app and he loves it. Test things out before you go. Give them a chance to try the apps. Don’t have time to put together toddler plane activities? Order one of these activity packs for toddlers from KeepEmQuiet, which include entertainment and snacks!

Buy flights in bulk

As a general rule, you will get better value on your flight tickets if you buy more at the same time, but only if they are with the same airline, or airlines in the same alliance (e.g. Star Alliance). For example, flying a return ticket from New York City to London with United Airlines will be cheaper than 2 one-way tickets. You can also take advantage of this on multi-city flights. For example, Virgin Atlantic has routes from New York City to London, London to Shanghai, and Shanghai to New York City. If you book all these at the same time using the multi-city search function on Skyscanner, you'll save some serious cash. Another way to bulk buy flights for less is with round the world tickets and regional passes. These are special tickets offered by airline alliances that let you go around the world, a continent, or a country at a discounted rate. To learn how to book these, be sure to check out our ultimate guide to round the world tickets. All this said, sometimes a few separately booked flights with budget airlines is still cheaper than what partner airlines can offer. The only way to be sure is to use a site like Skyscanner, punch in your destinations, search as multi-city or return vs multiple one-way bookings, and compare yourself.

Consider hidden city ticketing

Travellers long ago discovered a trick known now as “hidden city” flights. In a nutshell, sometimes a flight that connects in a city you want to go to is cheaper than flying directly to it. So instead, you book that cheap flight which connects in your desired city and hop off there, not taking the ongoing connection. It should go without saying this is risky for many reasons. Here are some factors to consider:

  • If your luggage is checked, it may go on to the final destination. For this reason, with hidden city ticketing it's best to have carry-on luggage only.
  • You may not be allowed off the plane (if the same plane is continuing onward to its final destination).
  • Airlines may detect that you did not take your connection. The consequences of this are hard to say, especially since people miss flights all the time. There is now a web search engine which finds hidden city tickets for you. It's called Skiplagged and was even sued by United Airlines who were angry about this debatable hack. We have never used the hidden city approach, but I know several who have, and they've scored some thrifty savings. Use at your own risk!

Mix and match airlines

Where really shines is the way in which it mixes and matches airlines in order to find the cheapest price. For example, maybe you want to go to Rome, Italy from Washington, USA. A typical flight search engine will only suggest routes coming from a single airline and its partners. An example search on Expedia shows the cheapest route as $631.20 USD via TAP Portugal., on the other hand, will mix and match airlines (including budget airlines) in order to find you the very cheapest route. For long-haul flights especially, this can make a huge difference. The same search on returns a route at $459.80 USD via JetBlue, Norwegian Air, and Vueling. That's a savings of $171.40 USD, and the travel time is even shorter! Typically, booking a whole trip with different airlines would be risky. For example, let's say your first flight with JetBlue was delayed, and you missed your connecting flight with Norwegian Air. Because the airlines have no association with each other, Norwegian Air has no obligation to reschedule your flight for free, so you would just lose your money. instead offers their own guarantee, which covers schedule changes, flight delays, and cancellations. As long as you contact as soon as you're aware of the delay, they will provide you with an alternate connecting flight, or a full refund, at your discretion. We haven't used this guarantee ourselves, but it certainly sounds like an appealing way to take the risk out of a thrifty flight hack!

Find the cheapest place to fly

Whether you know exactly where you're going or you just want to find to the cheapest possible country to fly into, is a great tool to get the wanderlust going and save some big bucks. Hop on their site and enter your departure city, then select a date range to fly. Approximate costs then appear over hundreds of countries around the globe from your departure point, while the list of destinations is sorted by price, allowing you to see the most cost-effective place you can fly.

Book connecting flights yourself for less

If you're flying somewhere that involves a transfer, say from Canada to Australia which typically involves Canada to LA, then LA to Australia, consider that it may be cheaper to book these two legs separately on your own by adding another destination to your trip. It should go without saying that in doing this, you should not book tight layovers. I repeat: do not book layovers that are hours apart! This approach is for those who want to create an additional destination of a few days or more, before catching their next flight. The one exception is when booking with, who offer their own guarantee on making connecting flights even when not with the same partner airlines. First, do your research: are there budget airlines unique to the country you're flying out of and where you're headed to? Booking with a budget Australian airline (Jetstar) from Sydney to Honolulu, then an American one from Honolulu to Montreal saved us over $400 each when flying back from Australia to Canada earlier this year. This allowed us to create a thrifty five-day stopover in Hawaii on our way back, which was less exhausting and a lot cheaper! and AirWander are both great search engine for revealing cheaper routes like this that involve multiple airlines. You can even book your own multi-day layovers, essentially allowing you to see 2 destinations for the price of 1. Rather than spend a day sitting in the airport, you can spend multiple days exploring the city you are laying over in. AirWander is a specialized search engine for doing exactly this. Put in your origin, final destination, and number of days you want to stopover. AirWander will return a list of places you can visit on your stopover, often even cheaper than a regular flight search engine! To learn how to do this, read our guide on How to Get Free Extended Layovers & Hack One Trip Into Two.

Search for airline error and sale fares

Airlines sometimes make mistakes when posting their fares, leading to seriously discounted flights. This can happen for various reasons – currency conversion mishaps, technical glitches, or human error. If you're in the know-how on where to find airline error fares, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars on a ticket. One of the most popular sites for tracking sale and error fares is Scott's Cheap Flights (or if you're in the UK, check out Jack's Flight Club). The website has a dedicated team that scours the internet for flight deals every day. Just make an account and enter your departure airport, and you'll start getting flight deals sent to your inbox. There's also a premium plan for only $49/year (a 14-day free trial is available), which gives you access to even more flight deals with even deeper discounts. Considering members save an average of $550 per ticket, this is well worth the cost! Other sites like Airfarewatchdog, Deals, and Secret Flying are great resources to stalk for finding mistake and sale pricing, as they conglomerate slashed ticket rates all in one spot. You can also read our detailed how-to guide which spells out how to find mistake fares on your own. One great approach is to search for flights for an entire month using Skyscanner (Tip #3 in this article). This will allow you to easily spot a significantly reduced fare against what's displayed that month, and has twice helped us stumble on error fares ourselves.