Disney Planning – Where to Stay, How to Fly, How to Save

family, Florida, Travel, United States

Part 1

Part 2

Once you have a good idea of what you are wanting from your Disney trip then you can start to make solid plans.

Most importantly I think it’s important to establish a budget and what your family can afford. While everyone wants an epic vacation, it may be important to plan another year and save. This is especially true if you are saving vacation days and want to make sure you get the vacation you want!

Be real – Disney isn’t going anywhere.

What I think shocks most people is how fast the cost adds up. Disney tickets are realistically $100+ a day for everyone. More for adults. You save if you do multiple days or if you do half-days (a new program Disney is doing), or if you do an after hours option instead (like Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween party). However, tickets and pricing now varies day to day, with increased cost around holidays and on weekends. Cheaper days land on your Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (generally speaking). This is because they’re trying to reduce congestion on weekends, but also bring people into the middle of the week.

When it comes to hotels, you have choices. Plan on around $200/night for your family of four to stay in the lower 3-star kind of hotels on property. This does not include breakfast or other amenities.

If you stay off property you will save , and I’ve seen hotels within 20 minutes for around $70/night. However, if you stay off property you have to consider the cost of transfers and resort parking. But no doubt you will most likely save, regardless.

If you stay on property you also have the opportunity to combine everything for a package savings. This means your hotel + theme park tickets + flights + dining can all be bought in one go. If you like the idea of being on property, this will probably be your best option overall. BUT, don’t just buy this without checking specials, rates throughout the year, and other important options.

An added perk to being on property is that every resort has public transportation to the parks and from the airport included in your stay. That means you DON’T need a car. This is especially true when parking is between $25 to $30 a day at the resort of parks. I’ll go into if you want to leave later.

Of course, this benefits Disney if you never leave. However, there are ways to avoid costs by packing food, having groceries delivered, and meal plans with the park.

For flights, if needed, you will likely pay around $200-500/person roundtrip. From Denver (my airport) we usually pay $330 with Southwest and $200 with Spirit. For us, Southwest is usually better if we have to change our flights, and when we’re taking presents to family in Orlando (use those 2 bags baby!).

With all of this in mind, figure out what your family will need to pay for the trip and what is realistic for your budget!

Happy Travels!

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Spring Break – To Be Avoided?

Caribbean, Florida, Travel, United States

Spring break is coming up for most Americans this month or next. Sometimes known as Easter Break, this annual tradition gives students and their overworked teachers a break from each other.

For the rest of us, we scramble to find care for our children and stumble into our jobs. And others of us are lucky enough to escape with our kids to tropical locations.

My advice, stay home.

Why?

Well unless you have a really good incentive for a break, it’s such a busy time of year that running away may not actually be enjoyable.

The Caribbean and Florida are the top locations for Spring Breakers, and if that awful movie sharing the same name is an indication, there is mayhem in them parts. Not that hotels and resorts don’t avoid spring break vacationers, but it’s hard to inhibit.

No doubt, at about every resort, will be those having too much fun and puking in the pool. No doubt. And on top of that rates are insane at most places in March and April, at times they can be almost double due to popularity.

At some point the vomit inhibits the fun. And let’s face it, do most college and high school aged people REALLY know how to hold their liquor?

If you do have a longer break, or decide to make it longer, there is a chance to hit the road to Europe or further afield. My only suggestion is to remember the travel time to get to and from, and how that can eat into time on the ground. A “week away” quickly can turn into only five says doing anything. And for around $1,000 a round trip plane ticket, you want to make sure it’s worthwhile.

This isn’t to say that fun can’t be had. For instance, many other locations are divine in spring, such as the Carolinas or the Bay Area. These places may not offer the surf and sand, but they can offer an enjoyable escape.

While I know all of you are itching for warmer weather, remember that sometimes good things come to those who wait.

The World Isn’t Disney for Americans

adventure of the week, Caribbean, colorado, geek, musings, Travel

One of the biggest issues with myself, and with travel, is that so much of the exploration that is glamorized is done without really experiencing much.

With a world of Instagram and celebrity travel photos it’s hard to understand that the world is more than the elegance dripping from the web. This isn’t to say that everything is a lie and parts are ugly, but to say that the sanitized version we see is the air brushed version of a model.

So many Americans (and Europeans and Australians etc) flock to other parts of the world with one set of ideals of that place. In Africa it’s the Big 5. In China it’s the Pandas and Great Wall. In Mexico it’s cheap vacations and tequila. Yet while there is an immense amount of fun and cultural significance in all of these things, there is also a disconnect.

While thousands stumble off of cruise ships in Italy or Jamaica, how many people stop to talk to a local? How many have a beer from a little old lady’s restaurant or squid ink pasta? How many people take time to get lost and see something different? How many people care about the locals that live there.

What concerns me is not that people visit in droves, or that their focus is on a romantic ideal. For I have also been that person. No, the concern is the disconnect from the reality of a place. Like Disney World the grit of the world has been cleaned away in many places. Like a fairy godmother, tours select only the pristine and sanitized, something with fairy dust. It’s even more concerning when the most vulnerable populations are used as tourism props or ignored. This can be ignoring their humanity, their human rights, their rights to land and water and standards of living. For say, a new hotel, or a pool. For a new form of imperialism and colonialism to cheaply pad the pockets of the powerful.

This is not anything new. The spread of Colonialism is as old as civilization, with Greek, Roman, Germanic, and British Faces. Yet, we seem to fail at learning that these horrors are disgusting no matter there new mask. Indigenous people lose their homes for Olympics and World Cups. Communities collapse for resorts and waves of tourists. Yet, the real question is who makes it out on top? While “new jobs” help locals, do they really ever achieve a life they should? It’s hard to say yes when the heads of large companies live in gilded towers, while they barely can send their kids to school.

This is not to say “don’t travel, it’s corrupt” but rather to encourage an analysis of what one does when they explore. Do you stay at chain hotels helping the Hiltons and Marriotts of the world? Or do you seek out a locally owned gem with homemade food and warm smiles? Do you see end time with locals? Or do you shy away to American bars and hotel lobbies? Do you view locals as friends or possible enemies? And if you said yes to the last one, why?

Travel can be the life blood of a community, of a country, of a town. Yet, when we choose who and how we support that area, we need to better examine our priorities.

Happy Travels!

 

More Reading:

Must Love Mexico

Losing Bourdain

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Spring Break—Better!

Caribbean, Florida, mexico, musings, Travel

I used to dream of taking Spring Break to some wild party in Florida or the Caribbean, with muscular college boys and an age 18 drinking age. Then I went to said parties in college and I realized, this is not fun.

It’s not fun because it’s a constant drink-vomit-drink-make bad choices- drink…..you get my point.

While MTV glorified the Spring Break in the 90s and early 2000s while I I grew up. I began realizing that it was all for TV, and had nothing to do with the real drama or problems that arise out of a bunch of horny, wild teens and 20-somethings believing they have no repercussions.

Anyway, as an adult, a full 27 years into my life (at least I play an adult most days), I have realized that if you have the chance to Spring Break there are a few choices that should be made to make it better.

By all means, go off to Miami and get crazy, but make sure you tell you mom you love her, and that you buy a giant box of condoms and a case of bottled water. Just be safe dear friends and children.

OR stay around and enjoy the college traffic dwindling in your town, and take local hikes with no people. OR head to a small local town and get to know new people, I can share a few in Colorado and Wyoming if you would like. OR read some books you have been intending to, while drinking at a new coffee place each day. If you are young and needing a break, take a break for something that brings you real joy, not for something that others tell you to.

 

No fun in this mess.

I think that our culture informs us at a young age that a “party” or “wild night” is the begin all end all for fun as an older teen or 20-something, but the truth is that most parties suck. Most parties end in tears, if we’re being honest, there is a point where your friend is puking in a toilet for the 10th time in a week, and you are the only one sober enough to make good decisions that you realize that there is no “fun” in this mess.

Therefore, as mentioned above, bring yourself bliss and happiness and forget what MTV had to say about it. Bliss and happiness can mean eating at your favorite brunch place, or visiting your grandma. Maybe it’s an alternative spring break where you clean someone’s house or simply visit a retirement community with a basket of kittens. (The last one sounds like my virtual heaven)

Just get out there and be good to you, find what move you, don’t make your liver cry, make good choices. Be loving in your actions.

Happy Travels!

Spring Cleaning- Travel Edition

Travel

Ahhhhhhhhh

We can finally open the windows after months of cold and misery. In Colorado, this may be short lived, as more snow is on the way. Yet these warm bursts of sun and fresh air sure make everyone ready to clear out some dust. This includes trying to clean off and out old luggage to make sure we have what we need for spring and summer adventures.

Here are my tips on cleaning out the closet to open up your bags and yourself to better travel in 2018!

  1. Take inventory
    • Go through all of your travel-related items and see what you have. Take note of what you may need and what you already have and even keep the list on your phone. Especially if you have a family, then next time you are off to a wedding you know that Sally has a neck pillow and Jason is all set with luggage tags.
  2. Get rid of the broken and sad
    • Here is a fact of life: luggage wears out. Meaning you will have to replace pieces as they get worn out. Now a few snags or scuffs doesn’t warrant a new bag, but if a wheel is broken or a strap is worn down, get something else. I guarantee you will be thankful next time you are running through the airport.
  3. Clean your bags
    • Your luggage goes through a lot to get you places, and it comes into contact with a lot on the way. I take time after every trip to empty out everything, wash it with a mild soap or cleaning wipes and then put it all away when I am done. This way when I am packing for the next trip I know its good to go, and there will be no unpleasant surprises.
  4. Fix the good stuff
    • If you have a bag that is ideal for how to travel, then hang onto it. If you can stitch up holes, if it’s leather condition and clean it, if it’s plastic smooth down scuffs. All around, if it’s a worthwhile item, take care of it. Because you often won’t find another travel friend as good.
  5. Store nicely
    • Make sure when you clean and put away your luggage after a trip that you keep your bags somewhere where the temperatures stay consistent and that is not damp or too dry. Wacky storage damages things, especially plastic and leather which can become brittle and cracked. This is especially true of items you want to keep and use for a while. Don’t abuse your good stuff and it will keep you moving for a long time.

Want an added bonus? NOW is a great time to purchase that new Samsonite you have been eyeing for a year, or that really cute carry-on that you couldn’t justify at full price. Especially department stores, which has luggage on sale for really great prices! Some are as low as 60 or 70% off their original price. The sale comes from new stuff coming in and last year’s stuff moving out, and buying a better brand means more years of travel. It also means Le Sport Sac or London Fog become really reasonable.

Spring Wanderlust

Travel

It is usually around the first of March that I begin getting antsy to get away again. I have usually been stuck at home for a few months; there are events with my stepdaughter and family, girl scouts and other obligations that have us running around Fort Collins like we’re in a marathon.

By March I am ready to get moving, to see new things, to get away from the monotony of life. It is this time of year that I plan out my adventures for the following 10 months of the year. As two months have already left us, I want to make sure the rest of the year is full of the best fun possible.

For those wanting to also plan out their best year, here are my tips for maximizing your time and money.

  1. Know how many vacation days you can afford
    • This may be paid time off or non-paid time off, whatever it looks like be realistic on what you have and don’t have.
  2. Choose one place for a week
    • Hopping around from place to place makes it hard to get the most from a vacation, instead narrow down on one spot you really want to go and then expand from there.
  3. Set a realistic budget
    • Go through your bills for the year and see what you have left to work with. If you don’t have much, see what you can cut back on. Even if you limit your coffee habit, or trips out to eat, you can save a lot of cash.
  4. Stay close
    • If you are short on time or money, choose somewhere nearby or cheap to get to. Flights to Las Vegas are usually cheap, or visit a National Park in your state. Find an AirBnB close by and bum out for a long weekend. Escaping doesn’t need to be hard.
  5. Plan ahead to maximize your time and money
    • Planning ahead means you often get batter airline, hotel, and even activity rates. It can also mean you get to see things that booking last minute won’t allow. Research thoroughly, ask questions, and seek out alternatives to bigger budget activities.
  6. Visit family
    • One way I have saved thousands is by taking time to visit family all over the world. Sometimes I stay with them, sometimes I stay nearby, but the best part is getting a local’s point of view.
  7. Make sure it’s fun
    • Sometimes traveling is not for everyone, so make sure you are actually selecting things everyone wants to do. There is no reason to pay for everyone to go to DisneyWorld all day when only one kid wants to. Instead, take everyone to a cheaper activity everyone will enjoy.

Happy Travels!