In just 6 anxious days, my boyfriend and I will be embarking on a vacation! While I’m sure you want to hear all about the silly girl giddiness I feel about it, I’ll spare you. Being the poor 2o somethings we are, we had to be very budget conscious. I bet you want to know some sweet money-saving tips we used to book this wondrous vacation though. I’m happy to share.
We are traveling to the wondrous city of Orlando, Florida. This is how we do:
Hotel – The Fountains Orlando. Yeah, it’s part of the bluegreen timeshares. The boy is a part owner thanks to his thoughtful parents so we get to stay there for free. Ok, so not everyone has parents who are part of something like this, but I bet you know someone who is. Or maybe they have a cabin near a lake, or a campsite, or a hookup. Trust me, if you look you will find something.
Transportation – We booked our flights as early as possible. The closer to your departure, the higher the cost. We are saving ourselves from having to park at O’Hare (which is practically theft) by parking his car at my office and taking the bus. It’s pretty convenient, but not everyone works within spitting distance of a major international airport. Do the fun thing and beg someone to drop you off. We also saved money on a rental car for Orlando by finding a company that doesn’t charge the renter for being under 25, and they will pick us up from the airport. Shout out to Carl’s Van Rentals! I called to double-check about the fee and the gentleman on the phone was very friendly. A+!
Dining – The Fountains only has 2 room villas with kitchens. You won’t hear me complaining. We plan on taking our lovely van to a local grocery store to pick up some way-cheaper-than-eating-out essentials like milk, cereal, lunch meats, etc. It is still vacation, but we plan on keeping the costs down by eating groceries and eating out with local deals groupon style. Your hotel room doesn’t have a kitchen or fridge? Buy some non-perishable snacks and pick up lunch from a local supermarket. Most have prepared foods for a fraction of the cost of even fast food.
Entertainment – The Fountains (like many other hotels) include DVD players in their rooms so we’ll be bringing along a few of our faves (forecast is showing rain for the entire length of our trip, hence the DVD precaution). We will also be (hopefully) hitting up a few theme parks. I got reduced price tickets through a perks program at work, but our hotel also offers more wallet friendly deals on the local parks and I bet yours would too. Google it, and they will come. We will also be bringing along a book or two and an ipod just to keep us occupied constantly.
Here are a few extras I picked up:
- Bring your own empty, refillable water bottle to the airport. You can’t bring more than 3 oz of liquid through security, but you can bring an empty water bottle to refill after you get through. Save yourself the $5.
- Bring your own snacks to the airport. It is suggested that we arrive 2 hours before our midday flight. This girl gets crabby when she is hungry. Save yourself the stress and the money and bring yourself some snackage.
- A vacation is an exciting thing, but you don’t need an entire new wardrobe. My closet is packed with clothes and I won’t be buying any new vacation clothes. If you really need to feel fresh and new for your vacation get a mani/pedi or a haircut. $30 well spent.
- Set a budget for your spending. We know that a nice picture frame with a picture of us on vacation will be more sentimental and long-lasting that 2 $40 hoodies, or any other wildly overpriced souvenir. If you see something you like and immediately have a place for it in your home that people will see and appreciate it, then fine. If not, pass it up.
- If your family is anything like mine, they will be expecting you to bring them back some souvenirs. I started a little tradition of sending my younger siblings postcards from my various excursions and they always seem to love them. Less than $1 per person. I might grab another small something, but I don’t feel obligated to spend $20 on each of them (there are a lot of us).
- Book your vacation off season! Everyone is going to be traveling during the holidays, summer, and spring break. We booked our vacation during the fall when everyone else has run out of vacation days (it just so happens to fall on my birthday also). Orlando will still be sunny and exciting in September and maybe even less hellishly hot and humid than it would be when it’s also packed with people.