A Very Un-Frugal Vacation

Only one more month to go until I hit the road with my Mom and two sisters for our very un-frugal Disney vacation! I am super excited about taking this trip. I’m especially excited about the time I’ll get to spend with my Mom and sisters. I’ve already posted about our decision to take the trip, and the reason we, 4 grown women, are choosing to vacation at Walt Disney World. And I’ve admitted that this is in no way going to be a frugal vacation. What I haven’t done is posted anything about the costs. This is, after all, a blog about money!

The Trip
We’ve decided to drive down to Orlando for our vacation, instead of flying. To us, the trip is always half the fun! We don’t want to rush, so we plan to spend two nights in hotels on the way down, and one night on the way back. In a very un-frugal fashion, we’re planning on just winging it; We’ll drive as far as we feel like it, then find a hotel to stay the night. We should be able to share a double room each night, and will be driving my Escape.

Estimated Cost, Fuel: <$350
Estimated Cost, Hotels: <$450

The “Package”
When we first decided that we would go to Disney this Fall, I searched high and low to find the best deal. I checked the AAA discount on tickets and reservations. I checked through my Chase Disney Debit Card. I checked the special offers my Mom gets. I read the blogs devoted to doing Disney on the cheap. In the end, the best deal I found was booking directly through the Disney website. Go figure!

I ended up booking 6 nights in a Deluxe Villa Resort Studio, 6 day “Hopper Passes”, with the “Water Parks and More” option, and the “Memory Maker” photo pass all together. But not as a package; It ended up being cheaper to buy each thing individually than to buy one of their preset packages. It was expensive, but all in all, we got a good deal. We could have saved money on the resort by buying “points” from a Disney Vacation Club Member, but that can be risky; Disney doesn’t support those transactions, and the points owner retains all rights to your reservation. Meaning there is nothing to stop them from taking your money, and then cancelling your reservation. Yeah, I think I’ll pass.

The Deluxe Villa Resort is a bit of a splurge; We could stay at a  regular resort, and still get the benefits of being on property. But the Deluxe Villa Resorts are more spacious, and much quieter. Disney is, after all, a place for kids and families. Having a relaxing adult getaway is totally doable, but you have to take some precautions, and be willing to spend a little more. Like staying in the higher-end accommodations. And never, ever, ever, for any reason, stepping foot into the McDonald’s in Downtown Disney. For any reason. Monkeys at the zoo, people. You’ve been warned!

A regular Disney park pass allows you to visit one park each day. Upgrading to the Hopper Pass allows you to visit multiple parks in a single day. The idea may seem ridiculous , but it actually makes a lot of sense. We plan to spend most of our time in Epcot. But there are things in other parks that we want to see too, like the rides in Magic Kingdom. Or the animal exhibits in Animal Kingdom. We don’t want to spend an entire day at those parks, so the Hopper Passes allow us to visit those parks in the morning, and then head back to Epcot in the evening for only a couple of extra dollars a day.

The Memory Maker option allows us to get a DVD that includes all of the pictures taken of us by the Disney photographers at the parks. We do this every time we go, and have tons of great pictures. There are usually tons of photographers throughout the parks, so you can get a variety of pictures in all different settings. And they let you add special effects, and download the pictures online. Sure, you could take your own camera, and snap your own pics. But this allows you to not worry about your camera, or finding someone to take a pic of your whole group. Plus, my Mom is obsessive about photographs, and Disney is the only place she’ll willingly get her photo taken.

6 Night “Package” for 4 Adults: $3,438

Food
Food is admittedly going to be a big cost on this vacation. In the past we’ve always had a suite with a full kitchen, and eaten a lot of meals in the room. But we also had more people, the room was booked as part of my Aunt’s Vacation Club Membership, and we were dealing with a lot of dietary restrictions. The suite we’re getting this time only has a kitchenette. We plan to keep snacks and quick breakfast foods around, but we’ll be eating our meals out. The price difference between a suite with a kitchenette and one with a full kitchen would wipe out any savings we would have eating in the room.

Including the days that we’re traveling, at two meals a day, we’re looking at 18 meals out. Kind of; Since we’re going for International Food and Wine Festival, most of our food will be eaten in Epcot from the food booths. We all like to try new and different foods, so we’re likely to buy most of the foods offered. But we’ll buy one, and share. Otherwise it would get really expensive, and we wouldn’t be able to try as many things.

We also have a habit of sharing when we go out to eat, and we tend to prefer appetizers to meals. So when we go out to actual restaurants, we’re more likely to get several appetizers to share, instead of getting 4 full meals. Many of the popular restaurants book up months in advance for dinner, but we didn’t really make any reservations. Winging it means most of our restaurant meals will be lunches.

Cost: Unknown

Yikes! As you can see, this is going to be a fairly pricey vacation. The $3,438 for the room and tickets is already paid for; I paid the initial total, and my Mom reimbursed me for $2,000. I estimated the travel expenses high, just to be on the safe side. I’ve set aside $100 a day for the trip, to cover travel expenses, food, alcohol, and anything else. I’m hoping that will be high, and I can reallocate some of that money into my student loan after the trip.

You may have noticed that, so far, my Mom and I have paid for everything. The reality is, neither of my sisters are living financially stable lives. We realized when we planned the trip that they wouldn’t have the money to go. So, we made a deal; Mom and I are splitting the cost of the resort. At the very least, my sisters need to come up with the money to cover food on the trip. If they can, we’d like them to pay us back for the park passes, and contribute to the travel costs. I know my younger sister will be stretching pretty thin just to cover food. My older sister isn’t really talking about it, so we don’t know where she stands right now. That’s kind of how she is though; We won’t know until we get there how the money worked out for her.

I’m sure some of you are questioning why we’re taking such an expensive trip. And I know some people will argue that I can’t “afford” the trip either, since I have debts. But I am able to pay cash for this trip. Sure, that money should have gone towards paying ahead on my debts, but it doesn’t change any of my regular payments on anything. My only debts right now are my student loan, my car loan, and my mortgage. While no debt is “good debt”, I don’t consider any of those to be terrible. The mortgage will be gone when we sell the house (hopefully sometime in the next year), and the student loan should be gone in the next 6-8 months. I’m aiming for the end of the year, but if not, I should be able to take it out with my tax refund. I even still have money set aside to continue working on the house.

After all, the whole point in being good with our money is so we can spend it on the things that are important to us, right? Maybe for you that’s a house, or retirement, or kids. For me, right now, it’s having an awesome week-long getaway with my Mom and sisters.

– Cindy W.

Comments

  1. you gotta have a little fun in life. I sometimes make the (grisly) “if I died the year after, would it have been worth it?” thought. I asked myself that before I planned an equally expensive trip to Spain, but it was something I desperately wanted to to before I had kids or, you know, kicked the bucket after hopefully a very, very long life. It’s not an everyday expense. It’s okay. Have fun and post some pictures, eh?

    1. Thanks Zoe! I feel the same way. But I know there are a lot of people out there who feel like any debt should be considered an extreme emergency, and you shouldn’t do anything at all until it’s paid off. I don’t think about my own death so much, but my boyfriend is 20 years older, and is constantly reminding me that he could kick the bucket at any time. So now I’m always thinking about how I’m spending my time in regards to him, and my parents. Sure, I’d love to be debt free. But is it going to matter if I’m debt free if they’re gone, and I missed the opportunity to make memories and spend quality time with them?

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