The Key to Planning a Budget Friendly Family Vacation
Keyona and I decided that we were going to get serious about this self-care thing and got the bright idea that we were going to take a girls only trip –with two 10 month olds. We wanted it to be a budget friendly family vacation.
Our first idea was to take a long weekend somewhere within driving distance of our homes. The long weekend slowly evolved to taking a five day trip to Disney World! This trip included both of us flying solo with the girls for the first time.
I decided to write a series of posts outlining the major aspects of our trip. Each post will offer suggestions of what we found were essential to helping us have a successful trip.
Planning the trip
Others would probably describe Keyona and me as cheap. We wanted to plan a full trip, in less than 30 days, with a total budget of $1,000 per person. And with a little planning and a lot of patience, we were able to plan a nice getaway and stay within our budget.
The following list details the steps we took to plan a fun, relaxing, and affordable vacation.
1.We wanted affordable.
Our main goal was to plan a relaxing vacation that did not break our pockets.
When deciding on a location, we wanted a nonstop flight that did not take up the majority of our budget. We decided to be flexible with our destination so that we could take advantage of cheaper flying options.
We both were able to get nonstop flights to Orlando for $100 round trip (not including cost of luggage and seat upgrades) by using a low cost airline.
When purchasing airline tickets, the best time to purchase tickets is 1-2 months prior to your trip. Also flying middle of the week and either early morning or late night can also make a difference in the price of your ticket. Infants under the age of 2 can fly free of charge on your lap.
After we booked our flights, we planned the other aspects of the trip.
2. We wanted options.
After deciding on Orlando, we were on the hunt for a hotel. Our goal was two separate bedrooms and a full kitchen.
We originally thought we were going to make meals for ourselves and the kids. Since Kenz has a dairy and egg allergy and eating out is not always fun for Keyona, we thought it was important to have that option.
Needless to say we did not cook during our trip, but the kitchen was great for milk storage and to clean all of my supplies.
After reading a bunch of reviews and factoring in distance from the airport as well as the theme parks, we decided on the Floridays Resort. In addition to the condo style suites, the resort has free shuttle service to the theme parks, a beautiful property with family friendly activities, was on a trolley line, and was close to shopping areas.
No we did not take advantage of all of these perks, but we liked the idea of having options.
In an effort to find the cheapest option, we looked on the major travel search engines (Travelocity, Expedia, Priceline), and compared them to the advertised costs of the hotel’s actual website. We were able to book our hotel directly through the website for cheaper than the search engines.
For 5 days 4 nights, the total cost of the hotel was a little over $600.
3. We wanted convenience.
Keyona and I decided to rent a SUV to take us, and all of our stuff, to and from the airport and to take us around town. We were able to rent the car for a little over $100 through the Costco travel website. Along with the car went rented two infant car seats so we would not have to carry our own on the plane.
Renting a car turned out to be about the same price as pay for a shuttle to and from the airport. We also liked the idea of having a car accessible for emergencies.
A quick note about the car seats. If we had to do it again we would NOT rent car seats from the rental company. We could have purchased brand new cheap car seats in Florida for the price that we paid to rent the car seats! The car seats cost an additional $100 each through the rental company.
Both girls hated the car seats. They screamed for a straight hour when we were traveling to the resort. It was to the point that we thought something was wrong with the seats.
Also looking back, we couldn’t guarantee that the seats have not previously been compromise in an accident. The girls hated the seats so bad that we did not use the car during our trip. The seats were clearly used and looked uncomfortable. At one point we were googling to make sure the seats we in appropriate condition, which they were.
If I had to do it again, I would have either checked a car seat on the plane or purchased one in Florida.
4. We wanted to relax and have fun.
Even though we decided on Orlando, the original plan was not to do the parks. But through our hotel we were able to get tickets to two parks and a water park for a little over $200 per adult. The girls entered the parks for free.
Since we were able to get everything at a cheap rate, we decided to splurge on a photo package for the parks. This package allowed us access and printing rights to all of the photos that were taken of us throughout the parks.
The key to an affordable family vacation is to do your research.
After everything was said and done, we were able to do a five day trip to Disney for $1,000. The key for us was to do research before we booked. We set a budget prior to booking, and stuck to it.
We were able to plan our trip 30 days prior to us leaving. And we compared travel programs (Costco, Expedia, Credit Card perks, etc), but we also went directly to the hotel websites to see what offers they had.
Set a goal, do your research, and be patient to find the best deals.
What’s the best tip you have for finding a cheap family vacation?
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