Such a trip, is never inexpensive, but our family did find ways to keep the costs down. Here are the major things and a few little things we did to keep the expenses down.
1. We weighed driving over flying and decided to drive:
Our family of five had heard of deals for $99 one way to Disney World from an airport near us, we looked but just could not find them for our vacation time window.
The lowest price for tickets we found were around $340 per person round trip. So our total would have been $1696 for flights.
However, due to wanting to see more than just Disney World while in Florida, we would have had to rent a car. The estimate for renting a compact car, for the full length of our trip was $254.
Also our Trailblazer would have sat at in a parking lot for 13 days. That would have cost us $36 if we had used a company that allows you to park in a off airport area and shuttles you for free to the airport.
Total for Flights, Car Rental and Parking: $1290 if we managed to snag the cheap flights, $1696 for the average priced tickets.
Driving our Trailblazer cost us just under $490 in gas.
That means we saved between $800 to just over $1200
Yes if we had flown, we would have saved 2 days traveling, meaning we could have spent 11 days in Florida instead of 9, but essentially we earned $400 to $600 for each of the two extra days of travel time.
2. We packed our own lunches and water and ate at the rented condo when we could.
Before we left on the trip, we gathered together what backpacks we had, and decided to go ahead and purchase three new ones for our kids, plus 5 small lunch coolers, and 5 freezer packs.
Yes this was an expense ($93) but they are going to last past the trip. We are looking forward to using these day pack supplies on our getaway for years to come.
With these supplies we were able to pack in our own lunches to all the places we visited. Only one place would not allow us to bring them in, but they allowed us to go out and eat and then return to their facility without any problems.
From what I saw at Disney World water averaged $2 per bottle. Our family of 5 went through on average 12 bottles a day, that’s $24 in water. We bought a flat of 24 waters for just under $3, meaning our cost of water per day was $1.50 saving us $22.50 per day. We spent 4 days at Disney World and one day at Sea World where I am sure water is about the same price, so over 5 days we saved approximately $112.50.
Lunch and dinner savings are not not as clear cut to figure out but, at our first night at Disney World we grabbed hot dogs for the three kids and, fish and chips for my husband and I for a total of just over $39. Since menu’s don’t change at the quick serve restaurants from dinner to lunch and fast food restaurants tended to be just as high I would say had we eaten out for both lunch and dinner our entire trip, the total for food could have easily been, $1014 (drinks not always included).
Breakfast out I estimate would have cost us perhaps $15 if we had stuck to grabbing drive thru on the way to the destination of the day, which would be $195 for our 13 day trip.
Instead I spent just over $300 in groceries, including the bottled water, all snacks, breakfasts, lunch and some dinners. We also spent just under $511 on restaurant food. Totaled together our cost was $811 compared to $1329 for restaurant food and drinks.
That means we saved $518.
Other smaller ways we trimmed the fat off our Family Vacation
The two categories listed above saved our family between $1300 and $1700 on our 13 day trip (9 days in Florida, 4 days spent in travel) and make up the bulk of our trip savings but here are a few ways we trimmed a few more dollars.
a. We brought along a 24 pack of my husbands favorite pop. Cans are significantly cheaper than buying bottles or fountain pops at gas stations or fast food restaurants.
b. Outside of Disney, we often just bought the main item of dinner or lunch off the dollar menu and then passed out waters, and a piece of fruit or bought and shared a bag of baby carrots, to not only save money but add nutrition to our meals.
c. Instead of buying ice-cream at the pricey stands, we stocked our freezer full of popsicles, ice cream sandwiches, and ice cream bars. We then told the kids that when they got back to our rented condo they were welcome to raid the stash.
d. We went to Walmart for the bulk of our Disney themed trinkets. When we stepped into the Walmart nearest our rented condo to grab groceries we were hit, with a huge section of Disney themed t-shirts, bags, frames and mugs that turned out to be much cheaper than the ones at Disney World.
e. I searched all of the local free flyers for coupons for the destinations we were visiting. Didn’t find any that helped on this trip, but I have on previous trips to other destinations.
How about you? Do you have any tips on keeping expenses down on vacation?