Yesterday I had complete intentions of posting my first vacation tip, but then an 8th grade graduation took over. Not any of my children, but my sweet neighbor Sara. My children have grown up with Sara, and she (an only child) was indoctrinated into the world of boys at an early age with our three. She was sure happy when Cathrine and Ruth joined the family! And we are so proud of Sara!!!
Anyway, as we get ready to go on our first vacation this summer, I wanted to share some of the things that have helped us plan some amazing trips. There are so many tips, that I'll need to continue this once we return.
This trip, we are headed to Florida. That's a big trip when you live in Arizona. We will stay 4 days at Cocoa Beach. During that time, we will lounge on the beach, go to Cape Canaveral National Park and Kennedy Space Center. Then it's off to Disney World & Universal Studios. Since we've grown up going to Disneyland, we will pass on the Magic Kingdom, and hit the other 3.
My guess is that many of you are wondering how can we afford such a trip.
Tip #1: Plan in Advance
We start planning really early. My husband is the master planner, and he's been working on this trip since last year. He created a spread sheet (yes, he's an engineer) with spaces for the day, the accommodations, the miles, the activity, and whether we have a reservation - and if so - the confirmation number.
Then as we make a plan, we pay for it. So we've spread out the expenses for this trip over 7-8 months. All of our tickets are purchased, and we have paid about half of our accommodations.
When we arrive in Florida, our expenses will be manageable. We'll eat breakfast and either lunch or dinner from our own supplies.
Tip #2 Research
When we pick a destination, we purchase a tourist guide, like Fromers. Then we start reading it just like a normal book, skipping over things like the most expensive hotels. We highlight activities that look interesting, and make a list.
One of our best investments was "The Unofficial Guide to Disney World" the first time we went in 1998 when we still lived in North Carolina. They included a section on the average attendance for every week of the year. We picked the lowest attendance week and had a fantastic time. It ended up being the first week in December, and everything was beautifully decorated. We had to pull the kids out of school, but it was worth it. I wrote a letter to the principal explaining that we would be moving back to Arizona, and how this would be a great learning experience - and it was approved. The kids kept a journal, and we made it a true educational experience.
Then we'll do some cross comparison on a website like http://www.tripadvisor.com/. This is a fantastic place to get real people's opinions on places to stay and activities. Then we pencil in our activities on the schedule my husband makes, and go from there.
That's it for today. Tomorrow I'll share our tip for the most affordable and educational places to visit.
In His Love,