|My library card has been getting a workout|
To early for a Christmas post? I'm just bursting with excitement to share that this Christmas, we're going to Disney World! Backing up just a bit... remember when I said (twice) that it didn't look like the week-long family vacation was going to happen for us this year? Well a few things happened since then:
- Our neighbours returned from their second (yes second!) trip to Disney this year with their almost 5 year old son. In chatting with our neighbour about how overpriced we heard Disney was, he said it actually wasn't too bad (aside from the flights) and talked it up big time. They are already planning their next trip!
- DH and I were chatting about doing a low-key Florida beach vacation over Christmas holiday but when we looked into condo rentals and compared to Disney - Disney actually came out to around the same price as a condo rental at the beach due to premium Christmas time prices, not to mention extremely limited availability.
- I got a raise at work with my most recent new contract (woohoo!)
Our vacation budget: $3000
Details: 5 nights at Disney, 3 days of Theme Park Passes (including Park Hopper Option), and a whole lot of driving (about 21 hours each way)
How we're making this happen:
- We are driving. Flights alone would cost about as much as the actual Disney Vacation Package whereas gas in the Prius is cheap and a decent motel can be had for $50/night. We are planning on doing the drive in 2 days each way - 12 hours the first day and 8-9 the second with plenty of rest stops. Sarah is my inspiration.
- We made reservations at a "value resort" after reading many many reviews, we came to the conclusion that this would be perfect for our family right down to the "tacky" character themes. The boys will just love it and for us, we're fine with paying half as much as the the fancier resorts.
- N is still FREE until his 3rd birthday which saves us a whackload on the Theme Park tickets. We also saved by doing 3 days at the Parks instead of 4. I know our guys will need a bit of a break and with so much to do at the resort and in Downtown Disney, we won't be bored.
- We opted out of the Disney Dining Plan after reading several reviews. We are confident we can cover our food for less than $800. We plan on doing some breakfasts/lunches in our room (which comes with a mini-fridge) since we'll be coming back in the afternoons for naps anyway and taking care of our own breakfast will allow us to get to the parks first thing. We have also budgeted for 1-2 meals out/day. I've been scouring the internet for restaurant reviews etc. Two of my go to sites have been this one and this one.
- We're scaling WAY back on Christmas this year. Rather than our usual $1200, we have budgeted $400. Also, if family and friends ask for gift ideas, we'll suggest trip-related stuff like Disney Gift Cards or fun toys/activities for the boys for the car ride.
- Timing. Yes, Christmas is a very expensive time to travel but it is the only time where DH and I both have "forced" holidays and where I can take vacation without using vacation pay (Stat Holidays and lieu time) to cover my time off which frees it up for spending on the actual vacation.
- Payment plan. Since we decided on the fly, we hadn't set aside any money for the trip. Lucky for us, if you book through Disney, they offer a no-interest payment plan option with a booking deposit of $200 and the balance being due 45 days before your arrival. We've just broken it down into smaller payments that we'll pay from each of our paycheques between now and then. What I really like about this is that it seems really affordable for families who plan, say 18 months, in advance - and who can take advantage of cheaper season rates. If we do plan on going back again we might just go this route.
Most importantly, we have not stopped paying down debt, just took another look at our budget and squeezed some more fun money in which will serve as a great incentive not to waste money. That is one more goal we'll be able to check off for this year!