If you’ve ever been to Disney then you know you’re going to drop some cash. Unless you know someone, or get really lucky with some fantastic coupon deals, you aren’t going to go to Disney for just a few hundred bucks. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
Vacation budgets vary, but I think most of us want to get the most bang for our buck regardless of our budget. My family isn’t going the super budget route, but I think our spending limit is pretty typical for many families. While we don’t have money to burn, we are managing to put together a fun vacation that is within our set budget and we won’t even have to sell the kids!
Set a budget and stick to it
This is the most important thing. Knowing exactly how much you have to spend helps you stay within your budget instead of heading to the poorhouse. I don’t recommend going into debt for the sake of a vacation.
When we got our tax refund back we put it aside and said that we would use the money for Disney. While I’m not one of those Disney experts, I am pretty happy with what I’ve put together and the amount of money I have saved as a whole.
Use credit cards with rewards
Now, I’m not saying to use a credit card to fund your trip. Not at all! Mickey Mouse isn’t worth buttloads of debt. I am suggesting that you use your credit cards responsibly to get the most bang for your buck.
I used my Double Rewards card to pay for everything and as soon as the charges hit my card, I paid it off with the money we had set aside for the trip. So far I have earned $100.25 in rewards for this trip that will help offset some of the cost of the rental car or at least pay for gas.
When to travel
This time, we didn’t have much of a choice on when we planned our trip. We are planning our Disney stay around a family get-together for my grandmother’s 90th birthday which, unfortunately for us, means going during a fairly busy time. That being said, there are better times than others to plan your trip, especially if you want to stay at a Disney hotel. Check out this great guide to find out when to (and when not to) plan your trip.
First, we used the Hopper app to let us know when it was a good time to buy our tickets. Hopper watches trends and tells you if prices are expected to go down and when they are expected to rise. It worked really well for us and I highly recommend checking it out.
As always, I ended up purchasing my tickets on Expedia. I check the prices of some other travel sites and always seem to come back to Expedia. They also have other great deals on hotels and rental cars when you book your flight through them. You may have to shop around on a few travel sites for the best deals, but they do most of the work for you.
Since I booked a flight on Expedia I had a choice of hotels that were an average 40% to 60% discount off their regular price. We chose a condo style hotel with two bedrooms, a kitchen, living room area, and two bathrooms for 60% off. We figured having a kitchen would allow us to save more money (and calories) on not eating out the whole time.
There are perks to staying in a Disney hotel and if those perks are important to you, be sure to check out the deals for hotel guests. We are only staying for five days and are spending a few of those days at Universal so we chose not to stay on property this time. Still, we are only a few miles away.
We also got a great deal on a midsize rental car since we booked a flight and hotel on Expedia. Before booking your rental car, check your credit card perks to see if they cover rental car insurance for you. If so, use that card to book your car and decline the daily rental car insurance option. You’ll save that daily charge and will still be covered if anything happens.
My husband’s employer is part of Working Advantage which has great deals if you plan on spending more than three days at the Disney parks. If you plan on staying that long, check out if your employer participates. If you book three days you will get two days free. The longer your stay, the more free days you will get. The same deals are available for Universal Studios.
We chose not to use this option since we are spending five days; two at Universal and the rest at the Disney parks. I looked for several deals on park tickets including Expedia and Orlando Welcome Center and found that buying tickets directly was more cost effective for our needs. We bought base daily passes at the Disney parks and the Park to Park option at Universal. However, I suggest comparing all of the sites to find the best deals for your family and your needs.
I will have to update when we get back with more tips when we actually get there. I can’t wait!