When we began planning for our Florida vacation, we knew we were on a budget. We knew money didn’t grow on trees at the Linkous house and we needed to be wise in where we spent our money and also in where we were willing to spend a little extra. Here are a few steps we used that helped us out in preparing for our most recent vacation.
*Know your budget. It’s hard to look at certain vacations and have to say no, especially when you have kids but this is life. Would you rather go on an expensive vacation or have food when you get home? We knew right off the bat that we couldn’t afford an exotic trip to Bora Bora so we never looked there. We also knew that we didn’t want to pay the price for airfare. We were able to set certain limits right off that determined where we could go and what we could do. For some people, that may mean you can spend a week in New York, for others it may be a few days a couple hours from home. Either way, it’s a vacation. Don’t focus so much on the distance or time you’re going, just the fact that you are. You can find so many things to do anywhere you go and be able to budget it in based on what your budget is.
*Save in advance. We knew pretty much as soon as Emma was born that we wanted to go to Disney at least one day this year. This helped us in narrowing down a location and being able to have an idea of cost. We were able to put back money early enough that it didn’t seem like a big chunk at one time. For example, it’s a lot easier to save $50 a month for a year than having to spend $600 all at once. $600 at once we don’t have, $50 a month we do. We were able to figure out an exact amount that we needed and save towards that goal.
*Bring in other money. We knew that we would be receiving funds for other things (ie: side jobs, my and JR’s birthdays, etc) and put all that money towards our trip. Since a trip to Universal wasn’t in the original budget, we put our “extra” money together to buy tickets for that. There were several things on our trip that weren’t necessarily in the original plan but we were able to afford it by saving up a little extra money to fall back on just in case. This isn’t where you want to pull money for your trip. if it’s not a definite that this money is coming in, you don’t want to rely on it for definite parts of the trip. Universal was an option, not a necessity.
*Plan early. We put together a game plan early on of what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go. We were careful with the days we used and wanted to spend “out”, that way we still had time “in” for the pool or beach. We knew how far a drive some places were and were able to estimate all that, too. We drove this vacation so if you’re driving, don’t forget to add in that cost. We also cooked the majority of our meals at home, so plan to bring certain things from home (spices, baby foods, good deals, etc) and funds to buy other things out (milk, bread, etc). You are also able to get some great deals when you plan early. There are places that offer cheaper rates (airfare, hotels, parks, etc) if you’re willing to book early.
*Be willing to bend a little. We had a few days that we didn’t have specific plans for and we decided we wanted to go out rather than stay in the condo or even at the beach or pool. On our way into town, we passed a zoo and looked up information on it. We were surprised that it was a BIG zoo, not one with chickens and pigs running around being labeled a “zoo”. This one had giraffes, monkeys, crocodiles, and more. The best part of this visit is it was CHEAP. It was $14.50 a person and on Tuesdays, they celebrate with $2 Tuesday. Can you say YES PLEASE?!? We were able to take four adults for only $8, less than the cost of ONE ticket on a regular day. We had originally made plans to go on a Monday but were willing to be flexible to get the best deal.
*Take notes for the next time around. We were certain that we couldn’t afford an entire trip to Disney so we planned to stay off site and only go one day. We had a wonderful time on our vacation and loved it all, but something we noticed very quickly was that we could have stayed at Disney for just a little more than we paid for our vacation. We were unaware that the Disney FREE dining plan was going on while we were there so that would have cut one big cost completely out. We have taken notes on how to do Disney with a kid for next time around and plan on going this route. We visited some places we’d like to go back to and other places we’ll pass on so that way we’ll know.
*Enjoy yourselves! No matter where you go or what you do, enjoy it. Vacation only comes once (sometimes twice) a year and this is your moment to relax. This is your time to let yourself unwind and be ready when you get back home, back to work, or back to wherever “normal life” is for you. We have a policy that we don’t work on vacation. It’s hard to do, but we do it and we hold each other accountable. In fact, I sent an email for work and the employee replied back telling me not to worry about it and get back to vacation. That was encouraging, too, that my co-workers support a no work on vacation policy. One thing that helps out is we don’t bring our computers. This keeps you from working pretty easily. JR did bring his this years due to our need for internet but we held him accountable the whole time and to be honest, JR does this well on his own. When he’s on vacation he’s in the zone. Relaxation time is HERE.
I hope these tips have helped in planning a future vacation for you and your family. I know we enjoyed ours and are anticipating our next one. Vacation is a wonderful time. Sit back, relax, and join us next week as we share our most recent vacation with you!
Do you have any advice or tips for planning for a vacation?