I can’t tell you how many times I get the “it must be nice” comments on my travel posts on social media. Yes – it is nice…very nice!
The truth of the matter is we plan and budget and save for every trip we take. I never take my travel for granted- whether it’s an overnight to NYC or a cruise to the Caribbean. For several years, we drove to Disney World from PA, stayed offsite, prepared foods in our room and only visited one or two parks at a time. We watched every penny we spent and asked for gift cards for Christmas and Birthday gifts.
Today I’m going to share a few of my money savings tips. If you have any to share, feel free to share! I am always up for new ways to save on big ticket items!
First, plan ahead! Most travel destinations allow you to book up to a year or more in advance! You make a deposit – with Disney its only $200 per package, Sandals and Beaches are $98 and cruises vary, but often offer reduced deposits promotions – and then spend the next several months making payments when you can.
Next, whenever possible, I try to book all inclusive vacations. For instance, when you cruise, the bulk of your expenses are known before you ever leave your home. Of course, there are extra expenses, but your food, basic beverages, activities, lodging and port fees are all part of your cruise fare. This also applies to all-inclusive resorts who go a step further and include alcohol, airport transfers and tips.
When visiting a theme park destination, most offer dining plans. Adding this before you travel helps you know what to expect to pay for food.
My next tip is to bring your own bottled water and snacks if you are not traveling to an all inclusive destination. When I visit theme parks, I always bring pre-packaged snacks and quick breakfast type items. There are guidelines for what can be brought into the parks, so be sure to familiarize yourself before showing up with a bag full of food.
OK – here is a big one! Take advantage of cash back sites when you shop, as well as survey sites. When we went to Disney World for my daughter’s 16th Birthday, I had over $500 in Disney Gift Cards that I purchased using reward dollars. I take surveys on Swagbucks, shop for holidays and birthday on Ebates, scan grocery receipts on multiple sites and cash in my Target rebate gift cards for Disney gift cards. Technically, you can’t walk in to Target and buy a gift card with a gift card, but I pick them up when I do bigger shopping and purchase them as part of that order.
Recently, I paid off my trip balance for our next WDW visit with $3000 worth of gift cards that I purchased at BJ’s for $2700 . The cards were already discounted at $485 and then as a BJ’s member I saved an additional 5%.
Disney gift cards can be used to pay off your reservation, purchase souvenirs and pay for food or beverage in the parks.
Next, look into a credit card that offers cash back or points toward your vacation expenses, such as flights, Park tickets, etc.
If you can, travel during non-peak season. Availability and pricing is often better during the school year.
Lastly, always use a travel agent! We are always monitoring your reservations and when new offers become available, we automatically apply the discounts. You save time and get tips and personalized service and if something should go wrong, you have a contact who works directly with the vendors to get the issue resolved.