Okay, it’s official! We’re heading on our first vacation since honeymooning and I am HEAD OVER HEELS excited! I’ve been looking at things to do, places to go, where to eat and where to shop. Of course vacation takes planning, not only an itinerary but also your money.
Here are some tips on how to plan your holiday without breaking the bank:
Don’t be like us, start brainstorming early lol. We started planning late because we couldn’t figure out where to go. There are so many places to see around the world, if it were solely up to me, I’d make my career travelling the world, eating good food, and blogging about it. But until then, vacations are the way that I start to make that dream a reality. So start brainstorming. Chris is always down for good adventure, and trust, he’ll find adventure where ever he goes. So we got our heads together to figure out where we’d like to go. It’s okay to initially think far and wide, you can narrow down your search.
Questions like these will help the brainstorming process:
- How easy is it to get to the location?
- What’s happening at the location? Is there unrest or stability? Is there usually good weather during our dates?
- What sights and sounds are there to experience?
- How much money are we looking to allocate to this holiday?
What’s the budget? You shouldn’t break your bank just because you want to get out and away. Remember you still have to live when you return home, so be aware of what you can and cannot afford. If this year you can’t afford to go to Dubai for example, but you can afford a holiday that’s closer to home or at home itself then take it. Set Dubai on your vision board and work towards getting there within another year or two depending on what your long term plans are. Don’t feel pressured to keep up with the Joneses, do what you can manage.
On assessing our position, we determined that we could actually make this Orlando holiday happen so we did some rearranging and got to work. We booked our flights through Jet Blue and we started looking as soon as we decided on a destination. I’d log onto Jet Blue about twice a day looking for flights out to Orlando, the different routes and of course the different rates. You can also check out Expedia or Trip Advisor to see what’s out there. We depart from Barbados, so a route that’s easy to maneuver without too much hassle was essential. Although we saw cheaper flights, they were riddled with extensive connections and layovers which neither of us was prepared to deal with. Some layovers as much as 13 hours – no thank you.
I found that looking for flights late at night or during the mid morning appeared to be “cheaper”. Depending on the route, you may find that departing on a Sunday instead of Friday /Saturday could also alter the fare you pay.
Allocate the numbers
We created a spreadsheet of all the monies we’d need to allocate to this holiday. Inclusive of tickets costs per park, spending money, dining and transportation. From there I fleshed out the itinerary to include everything we’d like to do: restaurants, parks, and malls of course because I may, or may not have a slight obsession with Simon Malls lol. I also gave thought to an emergency stash & the closest pharmacy because things happen. For those who’ve visited my site before you may have read that Chris got ill the last time we traveled so preparation is key! Finally, allocate monies for baggage fees too just in case your fare doesn’t include that, ours didn’t.
From there we’d check the spreadsheet a few times a month to monitor progress and we try to adjust our lifestyles to suit.
Where will you stay?
Critical question. Thankfully, this time around we’ve been blessed by my godmother who gifted us with accommodation – God Bless you, mama. But if we needed to find somewhere to stay, our first point of reference would have been Airbnb. 1 – because our first experience was really amazing and 2 – we’d have the option to choose somewhere that’s within our range while having a touch of homey comforts. I honestly believe there’s an Airbnb for everyone! If you search good enough you may find one that’s just right for you.
This time around we’re staying at a Wyndham Resort in Orlando. Based on reviews it appears that we are in for an epic time on the property. You know your girl has tried to read every possible review ever posted lol because I need to know what we’re heading into. Truth is, somethings we’d have to wait until we arrive to experience but preparation is good.
How do we get around?
We’re renting a car during our holiday this time. Last time we simply took Uber everywhere and it wasn’t too much hassle. Search around the various companies and ask folks you know for recommendations on what’s out there. Read the reviews and recommendations as well. We chose to rent with Hertz because we found their rate to be reasonable considering that we’re collecting the car in Orlando but will return in Fort Lauderdale. Which reminds me! I’m SO excited about this vacation because we get to see our extended family who relocated to Florida in late July. I can NOT wait to squeeze their faces.
Searching for a car was intense because there are so many companies and reviews to go through, phew! Choosing the right company is essential to ensure you spend a good dollar and you receive a vehicle that is in good condition. Another reason why we chose Hertz was because they were actually offering a special rate if booked within a particular booking window so we were able to save up to 15% on the rental. Read the fine print (all of it) to ensure there aren’t any hidden fees anywhere. If you’re under 25 you may be subject to additional fees because of your age. You’ll need a valid license and credit/debit card in your name to lock in the booking. In some cases proof of a return ticket too so have all the documents together.
Other companies besides Hertz I recommend researching:
Plan your itinerary
What makes a good holiday for you? Is it the attractions? Theme Parks? Restaurants & Shopping? Try to decide what really gets your juices going and start searching for the things to do at the destination. We chose Orlando because we found there was a good mix of most things. OF COURSE, Disney is on the itinerary. That’s every girl’s dream as a child and even though I’m older now, I am still so happy to be going there. Chris, on the other hand, laughs at me every time I talk about visiting. So for him, we’ll take in some other “mature” attractions – insert side eye lol. Find creative ways to enjoy your vacation without breaking the bank. Try to book your tickets early. Check the sites regularly to look out for sales and discounts.
This is every time I think about Mickey, Minnie & Winnie the Pooh…
I mean, c’mon – Who’s your favorite Disney Character? 😀
Above all the pen and paper preparation this topic right here is also critical. I’ll speak on this more broadly in a separate post, but as it relates to our vacation, we’ve had to make some changes in our decision making. Instead of heading out to the movies, we set up our favorite shows at home and pop popcorn. If we decide to eat out, we’d try do that say once or twice for the month instead of making it a weekend treat. This in an effort to direct our monies where they need to go for the time being.
Truth is, it may get difficult even if you’ve never struggled with arranging priorities before. You may realize there’s a greater desire to buy on impulse now that you’ve made your goal clear but always remember: you control yourself, self doesn’t control you.
What has this process taught me? It has taught me that discipline is a muscle that I have to keep working in order to strengthen it. Achieving our goal to have a holiday didn’t just happen, it took some effort and sacrifice. This lesson can be applied to other areas of my life for sure but I’ll share in detail about what I’ve learned post vacation. I’m definitely looking forward to having a time of fun with the hubster while making all my Disney dreams come true and of course I’ll be blogging about it so stay tuned!
photo cred: Gui Avelar