Doing Disney On The Cheap!

18423683_10212781588883947_3727291453709925884_n

(photo:www.familylifehack.files.wordpress.com)

 

Our family lives in Florida, and if you have kids that grow up in Florida, you will try your best to make a trip or two to Disney World. Granted, Disney makes it a little easier to do that with their annual passes, but still a trip to Disney, if you’re not careful, can totally wreck your budget.

So, my wife Leanne (a veteran of many trips to Disney)  posted a very cool blog entry on her favorite travel hacks for the “Happiest Place on Earth.” Again, I would encourage you to read the entire article, but here are some of the highlights:

1/Park Passes. Tickets are a small fortune but there aren’t many ways to get around that one. One thing we do in order to save on tickets is to buy the cheapest season pass available and plan to make our one Disney vacation into at least 2 vacations. If you time it right, you can use the tickets the first year and then go back a second year before they expire to take advantage again. That cuts your cost in half!

2/Getting There. If you live within driving distance of Orlando, then obviously that’s your cheapest option. If you must fly, take advantage of Southwest‘s awesome promotional flights. They often discount round trip flights to under $100 round trip. Even better, sign up for their branded credit card and receive bonus miles that you can use to purchase tickets for free (taxes not included). Delta also offers nice sign up bonuses on their American Express branded cards. You can also sign up with Delta for their dining program for free or shop through their online portal and get bonus miles without a credit card or having to fly.

3/Accommodations. Lodging is the next big expense on your trip. We have stayed both on and off Disney property.  Staying on property is great when you don’t have a car because Disney takes care of all of your transportation (including from the airport). They have an extensive bus system that runs throughout the resort, as well as the monorail, which runs between some of the higher end resorts, Magic Kingdom and Epcot. The disadvantage to the system is that at some of the resorts, you will have to wait a while for the buses and may share a bus route with another resort which can prolong your travel time. Staying on property also means you will not have access to off-property dining, grocery or convenience stores. You can, however, bring some food items as most properties now have at least a small refrigerator in the room. Others have microwaves as well. The food courts have toasters and microwaves that can be used by anyone.

We like to stay off-property for the most part so that we have access to restaurants and grocery stores. Our favorite place to stay is Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort. You can get a great price on these condos if you look on VRBO or look for people selling their timeshare weeks. Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort is actually located on the Disney property, though not owned by Disney. You can rent anything from a studio to a 3 bedroom condo that includes a full kitchen, laundry and an amazing jetted tub to rest your feet after all that Disney walking! The property has several pools, a lazy river, water slides and mini-golf. There is a grill area for grilling out and several restaurants and bars on site. Be aware this is a timeshare resort so they will bug you when you first get there to sit through a presentation, but that’s not required.  You’ll need a car unless you pay extra for the bus provided by the resort. Another area that is our favorite to stay in is the Lake Buena Vista area. There are multiple hotels in the area and several chain restaurants. Best of all, it is located about a mile from Disney Springs so you can take an extra day (or two) to visit Disney without having to buy a ticket to the parks. There are amazing shops and restaurants at Disney Springs along with street entertainment and more. It is so fun to just walk around with an ice cream and people watch. Plus it has the world’s largest Disney store and a huge Lego store. I like to use Priceline to find a cheap hotel for us to stay in Lake Buena Vista. I often use Name Your Own Price when I want something really cheap. We once stayed at a hotel in the area for $36 a night and that included breakfast!

4/Food. I have already covered the on-site microwaves, refrigerators and food court conveniences. Another trick that we like to use is to bring crock pot meals. I have never tried to use a crockpot in a traditional hotel room but we have used it at the cabins at Disney and at the Bonnet Creek resort. This is by far, the easiest and most convenient way to cook dinner for your family at Disney. Trust me, you will not want to cook at the end of a day spent walking all over the parks. A crockpot meal is perfect because you can put the ingredients together in ziplock bags before the trip, freeze them for travel and then dump them in the crockpot each morning before you head to the parks. When you return, you have a healthy, delicious, home cooked meal and you don’t have to fight the crowds at the restaurants or eat greasy food all week. Breakfast items are easy to pack and can be eaten in any hotel room and lunches can be made and taken into the park. We almost never buy food in the parks because that’s a pricey proposition.

Hope this helps you have a fun-filled, memorable time at Disney without breaking the bank!

14581519_10211139062022540_358769656578948857_n

 

 

 

4 Ways to Avoid Catching the Flu on an Airplane

germs

(photo: www.psf_blog.s3.amazonaws.com)

 

Well it’s certainly no secret that this year’s flu breakout is one for the record books. It seems like everyone either has had it, has it now, or will have it soon. I know that when my daughter needed to go to the ER a couple of weeks ago, there were no rooms for her due to all the people suffering from the flu.

So, what do you do if you are planning a plane trip? The mere mention of flying by air during flu season gets everyone’s guard up. Well, I came across a very helpful article, which should arm you for your next flight.

The article offers 4 very helpful hints for avoiding germs while flying:

1/Choose a window seat over an aisle seat. Fewer people passing by you means fewer opportunities to catch germs. You should ALSO avoid waiting in tight lines to board the plane.

2/Pack a bottle of nasal spray. Experts say as soon as your mucous membranes, especially in your nose and mouth, begin to dry out, you lose one of the most valuable defenses for preventing respiratory viruses. That little bottle of nasal spray (often available in airport convenience stores) will help you stay well-lubricated.

3/Wipe that tray table. It’s one of the dirtiest places on the plane. There’s no guarantee at all that your tray table was wiped down before your flight, so have a small container of antibacterial gel or wipes to wipe away any germs on that germy tray table.

4/Turn on your overhead vent. When someone sneezes, those germs can quickly spread to people in their immediate area. Turning on an air vent increases air circulation and can move germs away if you’re sitting next to someone who might be sick.

If all else fails, wash your hands like crazy and don’t forget your little surgical mask. Safe and healthy flying!

masks.jpg

(photo: www.travel.sandacre.com)

How To Make That Dream Trip a Reality This Year

Italy Trip 1

(photo: www.blog.constancehotels.com)

Seems like everyone has a bucket list of places they’ve always wanted to visit. For my wife and I, it’s the romance of Italy. Before we were married, I promised her I would take her on that romantic trip to Italy. That was nearly twenty years ago.

What keeps us from taking that “dream trip”? Money is a big factor, and then it’s timing. It never seems like the right time, does it? You don’t have anywhere to leave the kids. Or maybe you are putting the kids through college. Maybe you’re in the middle of a family crisis or a home renovation project. Whatever the reason, that “perfect” time never comes, does it?

Well, nobody said you have to take that dream trip right now, but as we prepare to turn the calendar to 2018, we can start PLANNING that dream right now. I came across a cool article on 8 Ways to Make Your Dream Trip a Reality. Bottom line, you’ve got to plan your work, and then work your plan. As the article says, start employing practical tips like writing down your plan, tell other people, and work out some easy ways to save for it. Maybe you want to start a vacation savings jar, or maybe you can set an automatic transfer for a set amount to come out every two weeks or every month to go to a dedicated “dream trip account.”

There are lots of credit cards that give you things like frequent flier miles or help you defray the cost of lodging by staying in one of their hotels for your dream trip. One we have used to earn miles for past travel is the American Express Delta Skymiles card. If you’ve never had this card, you can receive large sign-up bonus miles when you are approved and spend a certain amount of money on the card (as of 12.29.2017 bonus is 50,000 miles after spending $2000 in the first 3 months plus 10,000 more after spending $1000 more in 6 months. Offer subject to change at any time.) A good way to earn miles if you are a responsible credit card user (i.e. pay off your balance every month). Most major airlines have similar offers for other cards. For lodging, there are loyalty programs where you can earn free nights and they also have partner credit cards with large sign-up bonuses.

Don’t want to sign up for credit cards? There are other ways to earn loyalty points and frequent flier miles such as Delta’s Skymiles Shopping or Dining, For more on earning points without flying, staying or opening a credit card, check out https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/life/earn-frequent-flyer-miles/.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card

gold-delta-skymiles

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card

You can earn:
50,000
Bonus Miles after spending $2,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within the first 3 months. Earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles after you make an additional $1,000 in purchases within their first 6 months.*Terms Apply

Special Offer Expires: 01/31/2018

Bottom line: Start planning now, and make 2018 the year you FINALLY take that dream trip. Bon Voyage!

**This blog includes affiliate links. All opinions and reviews are my own. I may receive a referral for links. 

The Ultimate Guide To a GREAT Vacation With Your Sweetie

vacation-couple

A few years ago, Bill Murray was asked by a bachelor at a bar the famous question….How do you KNOW that the person you love is the one you should spend the rest of your life together with?

His brilliant answer is coming up, but for now, suffice it to say that the answer revolves around taking a trip together. So, WHY do you think he said that? Well, because when you travel with your significant other, the tiniest issue can become a giant all out war.

So, I came across a cool article about traveling with the one you love. I really think if you follow these tips, and the spirit in which they were given, then you won’t return from your trip ready to kill the one you love so dearly.

They listed NINE tips for traveling with the love of your life. I’m going to give you just a couple, and you can get the rest in the link I will provide, along with the great Bill Murray love advice below, but first:

1. Identify the goal of the vacation.
It might sound silly, but this is where a lot of friction happens. One partner wants to spend the day in art museums and eat five-star meals at night, and the other expects to hang around the beach and nosh on fish tacos for three meals in a row. Before the tickets are booked, talk about your expectations for the trip and make sure you’re on the same page. Determine whether the point of your trip is to relax, explore, spend time with family or friends, etc. Once the trip goals are identified, it will make for more agreeable planning of your daily agendas.

2. Make a list of who will bring what.
A little organization goes a long way in reducing headaches, so once you decide why you’re traveling, figure out who’s bringing what. No one wants to spend their first night in a new place tracking down forgotten toiletries or a pricey phone charger. Make a list with your partner and check it twice!

3. Embrace downtime.
For some people, downtime is crucial to a happy trip. This is the proper time to schedule social media check-ins, bury your nose in a great book, or indulge in a power nap. There’s nothing better than a little alone time to reflect and recharge.

Get ALL 9 Tips RIGHT HERE

And, as promised….