This month’s featured guest post comes from Staci G of November Sunflower.
You’re thinking you can’t afford a vacation. It costs too much to go anywhere, you’re stuck with a “staycation” for the 3rd year in a row. Well, I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be like that for you anymore! Let me start by telling you about me, and my family.
I’m from Long Island, New York. Yup, born, raised, and raising my own family here on the island I love so much. Sure, it’s expensive to live here. It isn’t the easiest place to raise kids, own your own home, and still be able to eat every night without going into foreclosure. However, we’re able to live on this amazing island with just my husband’s paycheck, because when we had our second child, we decided to make sure we did everything we could to have me home with our kids.
You read that right. We’re from Long Island, we have only one income flowing through our home, and we not only manage to own our home, but we’re going on our very first family vacation. It’s a big one, because we’re going all out and doing a Disney Cruise this year. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? Are you asking yourself “did this chick win the lottery?” or “Are they in debt up to their eyeballs?” Hell to the no on both of those! I did this just by supplementing our income earning free gift cards ONLINE. Say what now? Yes, I earn free gift cards online doing simple things every day. It allows me to buy gifts for others, as well as items for the home. This saves me thousands each year, and those thousands go towards the things we WANT, not the things we NEED. And this year, we wanted an all-out, super awesome, Disney Cruise vacation out of New York (because this November Sunflower doesn’t fly.) So Mama made it happen!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I had a couple of tricks to booking this cruise. I sat on the computer waiting for the bookings to open up for this cruise. I snagged the least expensive cabin, because it’s Disney, no matter what cabin we’re in, it’ll be fabulous. We just have a level of fabulous that’s a bit lower than some other levels of fabulous! I booked early and scored an on-board credit to be used at the gift shop, or in the spa, or anywhere on the boat. The cruise includes a park-hopper pass for all four of us, which is a huge bonus. All food is included, and beverages (non-alcoholic) are included, too. They have a kids club for the little ones, totally included with the purchase of the cruise. It’s open early, and it stays open late. SCORE. If you’ve got bigger kids, there’s a club for teenagers, and it’s open just as long! Perhaps, longer.
People thought I was a crazy nut for not just doing one out of Florida, it’s cheaper they said. Actually, when I looked into it, it’s not cheaper. They weren’t taking EVERYTHING into consideration! Here’s the “basic” breakdown for a Disney Cruise in July out of Florida, and out of New York. Of course, there’s more hidden fees for flying, and parking. This is just the BROAD SPECTRUM to hammer home my point!
•July cruise for 5 days, 4 nights to the Bahamas, family of four (2 adults, 2 kids under the age of 5): $3721.00
•Airline Tickets to Florida in July for two adults and two kids (both kids require their own seat): $1720.00 (this doesn’t include the baggage fees, just the tickets)
•TOTAL FOR THIS TRIP: $5441.00 (which doesn’t include how much it will cost to park your car at the airport while you’re away)
•It costs $1088.20 per day for this trip
The Florida trip stops in a couple of places, sure. The regular places that my cruise will stop at. HOWEVER, there’s no Disney World on this trip. You don’t get a Park Hopper pass for this cruise. And there’s no on-board credit at booking, either. The trip is only 5 days. The park hopper passes, for the four of us, is $484.00, and is included with my cruise.
•July cruise for 9-day, 8-night cruise to the Bahamas, family of four (2 adults, 2 kids under the age of 5): $5829.88
•Airline Tickets to New York? Don’t need them, I live on Long Island.
•TOTAL FOR THIS TRIP: $5829.88
•It costs $728.63 per day for this trip
My cruise is less per day, because we get more days on our cruise. Which means, more food, drinks, and more time for the kids to really explore the boat, and get to play in the clubs with other kids. Our trip won’t include taking a plane, which means not only do I not have to worry about how many bags I pack, because of extra fees per bag, but I don’t have to pay for plane tickets at all. Nor do I have to deal with kids on a plane, that’s a huge VALUE for me. We get that Park Hopper pass, which we get four of, and would costs $484.00 if we bought it ourselves. If we wanted to do it, we could hit every park down there. We won’t, but you get what I’m saying. I don’t have to park my car at the pier in New York, because we’ve got a family member taking us, and picking us up. SCORE.
Basically, my point is this: You can have a killer vacation if you do simple things to offset your budget. I spend 15 to 20 minutes a day earning points online, which I redeem for either gift cards at the stores we love, or cash. It all depends on the site, and what we need. That money we save helps pay for not just the things we need, like our gas for the cars, but also for things we WANT, like amazing memories on a family vacation!
If you stop listening to other people around you, and do your research, and have an enormous fear of flying, you can figure out ways to do your vacation for a great price. You must always remember the VALUE of what you’re getting, not just the end dollar amount. If I had listened to my family members, I’d be going on a PLANE, which would take away from the fun of the trip, spending more per day on a vacation that would leave me stressed, instead of having fun. It would have cost me more per day, and honestly, I’d be missing out on a day at Disney with my kids. That’s no fun if you’re heading down to Florida, you want to hit Disney, right? RIGHT!
Remember to book early. It’s worth it, because you’ll get the pick of the “cheaper” cabins!!! If you find that you can afford more later, you can inquire about “trading up.” But it’s DISNEY, there’s probably no cabin on any of their boats that is less than amazing. And with two small kids, I kind of did not want to worry about a veranda – so it worked out well for us. As they get bigger, we’ll figure that out when the time comes.
It’s all in how you prepare, organize, and plan. Plus, listening to your gut, instead of family who “have been doing these cruises forever.”
PS-Another great tip? If you’ve got a family member who works for Disney, ask them for a family/friend discount. It’ll save you a TON of money. Just sayin’.