Friday, January 27, 2017

Disney for Less than the Beach

We've been putting off this trip for a while now.  As anxious as my husband and I were to see our children be dazzled by the wonder of all things Disney World we really wanted our children to remember it! With kids being almost 7, 4.5 and 20 months we realized our older two were nearing a prime age at which the "magic" would really be there for them and we decided to go for it, even knowing another trip may be needed down the road for our youngest to create some memories.

The cost of a Disney vacation was something we struggled with justifying for a while.  Its expensive isn't it? We certainly thought so. I know most other families feel that it is. It wasn't until I inquired with a local travel agent one afternoon to explore pricing that my perspective changed a little bit at least comparatively speaking.

I began to add of the cost of our yearly trip to the southern Gulf of Florida or the Outer Banks of North Carolina and realized the numbers just weren't that far apart after adding everything up. I was shocked by what that same amount of money could get us at Disney World.

We are frugal vacationers, and unfortunately that takes a little bit away from the enjoyment of the trip but it makes it more affordable. When we vacation we rarely dine out, usually once for dinner during the week and then obviously during the trip to and from we stop for meals here and there whether driving or flying. All that being said our costs tend of be on the lower side of average.

Devils advocate here for a second... Yes you could vacation for less by snipping money here and there, or by choosing a sub prime vacation rental home with a less desirable location, yes, yes, yes. However, in our family's experience we usually spend money on a nicer, more desirable location and save by not dining out every day and by cooking in our rental for most if not all meals. Based on our experiences over the years this is how it breaks down.   *Note there is a range for certain items as cost can vary significantly here.

A few additional notes on more ways to Save! 

  • Want free money for your trip? sign up for a Chase Disney Visa and get a $200 account credit just by spending $500 in your first 90 days of having the card! Its really simple, plus you can keep earning points towards your vacation as you continue to use the card! Click here to apply!
  • This card also offer 6 months of 0% financing for Disney Travel expenses, allowing you to pay for your trip over time if you choose.

  • Once you book you can pay your trip off slowly using gift cards. If you purchase your gift cards at Target using a RedCard you save 5% off of the value. $100 in gift cards there will only cost $95. 
  • You could opt not to do a dining plan and possibly save money by being cautious about what you buy in park, by bringing snacks you purchase from outside or by sharing meals while on site. Our choice to add a dining plan was due to the fact that we wanted to pay for the trip all at once and not worry about skimping here and there and just enjoy ourselves and our children without worrying about every swipe of our credit card or how much each meal costs. Also choosing to utilize Quick Service dining options over table service will save you money on tips!

  • Check benefits from credit cards you may have, you may be able to purchase Disney Gift Cards or book your flights at no cost! We had saved enough credit card points on one of ours to completely cover the cost of all of our flights to Orlando. 

  • Get someone on your side! If you book through the Disney Website they aren't going to call you if a promotion comes up that applies to your travel dates!! Work with a travel agent, they help guide you to choose the best option for you and work to find you savings wherever possible. She saved us nearly $500 by following up with us after we booked our vacation! The services are FREE! Small Earth Travel a local mom run business specializes in Disney travel and is offering an exclusive room credit to anyone who mentions Lehigh Valley Find and Go Seek when they inquire about pricing

So here is where my big Aha! moment occurred. Last summer (2016) We skipped our annual beach vacation for a few reasons but mainly because it never felt like a vacation.  If you have ever ran across this saterical article on the internet before and really resonated with you you make subscribe to my same school of thought... the a quick quote from the article gives you the gist,  I highly recommend reading the full version though when you have a minute.

" area mom Catherine Yardley has spent a much-needed vacation performing all her usual household chores while in closer proximity to the ocean, sources confirmed. “Isn’t it nice to just get away for a while and relax by the water?” Yardley said as she wiped down the kitchen counter and then took out the garbage, tasks she would normally perform at a distance of 200 miles from the beach instead of 50 feet. “I just love that I can be scrubbing the bathroom, look out the window, and see the tide coming in. We should do this every year!”" The Onion, August 9, 2013 VOL 49 ISSUE 32   Lifestyle

Maybe this isn't your feeling, and for those of you that don't feel this way while on vacation with the family at the beach I commend you and ask you forward all tips on how to enjoy such a vacation promptly! I need to know how its done.

So now for the Aha! If I'm spending all of this time and all of this money and putting forth all of this effort to go on "vacation" shouldn't it actually feel like a vacation?! After all the price break downs and cost comparisons something began to stand out. There was something REALLY different between the two vacations I had just priced out. One involved my managing a house/condo by doing dishes, sweeping sand from the floor 12 times a day, making beds and cooking 2-3 meals a day and the other didn't require any of those things! The second option (our Disney vacation) included meals each day that would be served, prepared and cleaned up for us, housekeeping services and every ounce of entertainment a kid could possibly want! For the relatively minimal price difference between the two options we decided to try the option that actually gives me a break from my day to day life!

To start there are a tremendous number of resources out there available for helping you plan your trip, blogs, crowd calendars, You Tube videos, the Disney World website is even a great resource the list of resources is extensive and you could spend weeks planning. This for me may have been the most overwhelming part and the reason we put off the trip for so long. The last time I took a trip I was 18 years old and literally had nothing to do with implementing the travel plans. 

 Needless to say it has been a "few" years since I've visited so A LOT  has changed.  I had an overwhelming feeling of cluelessness, i knew nothing about planning to visit Disney, how to get discounts or what things were MUST see. I had no idea where to start... I knew nothing about the resorts, amenities, transpiration options or dining plans. I needed help because while I was excited about taking this trip with our kids I didn't want the planning process to become a second job.  

So we reached out to a local Travel Agency - Small Earth Travel with some questions about our trip and was thrilled with all of the detail and experience they offered at no cost to us! She was able to recommend dining spots, attractions our kids won't want to miss and suggest a resort that best fit our needs for budget and convenience. 

We were able to book our trip through Dana at Small Earth Travel for a cost that was even less than we were able to price on the Disney website due to her ability to alert us to savings options that came available that Disney released after we chose our resort. I think a little known fact is that utilizing a travel agent actually doesn't cost a traveler anything.  We benefited greatly from Dana's knowledge of the resorts, restaurants, promotions, and amenities not to mention that she was able to save us nearly $500 on our hotel! 

I truly hope the information here was helpful to anyone considering traveling to Disney in the near future! We look forward to providing a fun report from our trip when we return! 

We have partnered with Small Earth Travel to help Lehigh Valley families plan their own magical vacation. Send an inquiry to Dana at Small Earth Travel to get a quote and to take advantage of an exclusive room credit promotion she is offering for our readers! There is no obligation to get a pricing quote and there is never any fee to use their services!

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