Keeping your wallet happy in the happiest place on earth
It’s called the happiest place on earth, but most people aren’t too thrilled with how much a trip there costs. You can start the year off right with some smart savings techniques, sure, but vacations can have some hidden costs.
I felt overwhelmed when I considered what it would actually costs a family of 4. Plus, I heard all about the extra costs that my friends seemed to incur when their families went to Disney World.
If you do your homework vacations can be frugal. It is possible.
With these seven easy tips you can have the vacation of a lifetime, while still keeping your wallet happy too.
1. Plan your trip during off-peak times
Most families travel when the kids are not in school. Resort destinations like Disney know this and increase their prices drastically at these times! Instead, plan your trip in the fall or late winter to maximize your savings. As an added bonus, the parks will be less crowded during these times which equals less time standing in lines!
This is my number one tip for a reason. It works exceptionally well for any vacation, not just Disney. Flights and rental cars will also be cheaper.
2. Book transportation and hotel accommodation early
Generally speaking, plane tickets and hotels are more expensive the closer they are purchased to the date of travel. While there’s no hard and fast rule for how far in advance they should be booked, a good rule of thumb is at least a few months, but even earlier if possible. While it’s true you may get a good last minute deal, keep in mind this also means you run the risk of the plane or hotel being full. Start shopping early to find the best priced deals for flights and other transportation you might need.
3. Set a budget and save for it
This is important! Figure out how much you are comfortable spending on all expenses. Make sure to include, plane tickets, park tickets, hotel costs, food costs, souvenirs, and a little extra for unexpected emergencies.
Once you have an idea of how much the trip will cost, you’ll know how much you need to save and create a goal for saving that amount.
And, if you’ve taken tip 2 into consideration, and planned your trip well in advance, you can set aside just a little each week, and before you know it, you’ve got the trip paid for! You can save in lots of ways including delaying purchases.
4. Pack wisely to avoid in-park prices
If you plan on eating and drinking a lot in the parks, get ready to spend a lot too. You can avoid this with a little planning though.
Bring a backpack to the park with a bottle of water for each person in your group, as well as some snacks, anything easy to eat while walking or standing in line. There are tons of water fountains in the park, so refilling your bottle won’t be an issue.
But, if you decide to eat in the parks, consider sharing a bigger meal rather than each person getting their own, many items are big enough for two.
5. Do your research and purchase tickets early
Disney offers many different ticket packages, some are better deals than others. Do your research and only purchase tickets you really need. If you are traveling with small children, a one day pass might be plenty.
If you’re not a fan of hanging out with the animals, don’t bother getting a pass for the Animal Kingdom. We knew we wanted to sample all the different cuisine in Epcot, and Disney has a dining plan that saved us a lot.
6. Eat smart
You can save money on food at home, and while on vacation, too. This goes along with tip 4. Plan your meals and make sure to eat things that will give you energy throughout the day, you will need it!
Eat fresh healthy foods whenever you can, and avoid sugar and processed foods. If the hotel you are staying at offers complimentary breakfast, try and eat a bigger breakfast, but still healthy, so you won’t be as hungry later. Or, if you can, plan on eating at least one meal a day outside the park and you’ll see significant savings.
7. Relax and enjoy the Disney magic
Once you’ve done all the planning, and found all the best deals, relax and remember to enjoy the vacation you worked so hard on. Stop worrying about money, and get swept up in the magic and fun of Disney.
Visiting Disney is a life changing experience. It might seem to be expensive at first glance, but you can make it a frugal vacation. Like many things in life, planning ahead is the key. Setting aside some time to plan will be the key to experience Disney on a budget.
Have you taken a Disney vacation? What is your best tip to save money at the happiest place on earth?
Here is a bio to use: Doug writes about Travel, Budgeting, Homebrewing, DIY projects, and Food. Follow him on Twitter @diydoug
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Hi Gretchen, Thanks for letting me guest post here! I really appreciate being able to share. If anyone has any questions, just let me know.
We are taking our Disney trip in October close to the Halloween celebration! I’m so excited as this is one of my bucket list item and I’m a huge Disney fan! We’ve been putting money away for this trip since October. So by the time we go on our trip we’ll have tons of money to spend! I like to plan out my meals ahead of time so I know exactly what to expect when looking for dinners. There are some cheaper options around the park but you really have to know where they are