How to budget for a trip to Disney World
In 1971, you could spend a day at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida for $ 3.50. According to the US inflation calculator, that would represent just over $ 23 in today’s currency.
It’s still not bad. Especially when you consider that a single day at Disney World in 2021 will set you back between $ 109 and $ 159, depending on when you choose to visit. If you (and maybe your kids) have dreamed of a Disney vacation for a long time, budgeting for the trip can be part of the adventure.
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How to budget for the big trip
The first step is to use a cost calculator. There are dozens of Disney World calculators online, designed to help you determine how much your trip is likely to cost.
You’ll want to take everything into account, including:
- Transportation costs in Orlando
- Hotel charges
- Park fees
Remember to add extra for emergencies like a flat tire (if you’re driving) or a quick trip to the drugstore for allergy medication.
Once you have an estimated cost in mind, it’s time to budget for the trip.
There’s not just one way to save for a Disney vacation, and that’s good news. Either of the following methods work, so you are free to mix and match however you like.
Pay for the trip in installments
Disney allows vacationers to book their trips up to 499 days in advance (approximately 16 months). Once you’ve paid a deposit of $ 200, you can pay the remaining balance over 15 months, with final payment due 30 days prior to check-in.
While a minimum payment of $ 20 is required with each installment, you are free to pay the balance however you want. For example, you can divide the cost of the trip into weekly payments, make the same payment with each payment, or make small weekly payments with a larger monthly payment. As long as the trip is paid in full 30 days prior to check-in, you’re good to go.
The easiest way to set up a payment plan is to work with a Disney Travel Specialist. A Disney Travel Specialist is not an “ordinary” travel agent, but someone who has been trained in all things Disney. Not only are they 100% commission-free, but a specialist knows where all the best discounts are hiding. The more experienced specialists also allow you to send them your installments (which they pass on to Disney).
If you prefer to do it yourself, Disney is happy to accept your regular installments.
Bill everyday expenses on a rewards card
Another way to save for Disney is to charge your daily expenses to a reward credit card that offers cash back or credit card miles for every dollar spent.
Cash back rewards can be used to cover the cost of your trip, while airline miles are a great way to pay for a trip if you live too far away to make the trip. You can even opt for a Disney credit card to earn Disney Rewards points on all your purchases. Just make sure you pay off the card in full each month so you don’t have to pay interest.
Take a look at your budget
Take a look at your budget and decide what you can do without until the end of the trip. For example, if you’re currently paying twice as much for cable as you are paying for a streaming service, consider cutting the cord and putting the money you save into a vacation account. Any reduction in your monthly budget represents additional money you can spend on your vacation.
Round off all purchases
Let’s say you make a purchase (using your debit card or checkbook) for $ 10.50. When you record the purchase, write down $ 11 instead, then forget it. In a few months, you will have additional funds in your account which can be used for your trip.
Round off all deposits
Do the same with the deposits. If you deposit $ 150.50, write it down as $ 150. You might only have $ 0.50 more in the account, but it’s a start.
Follow your “vices”
If you smoke, the promise of a trip to Disney World may be enough to help you quit. Put the money you already spent on cigarettes for the vacation of a lifetime. Of course, we all have vices we can explore, from expensive coffee from a drive-thru on the way to work, to late-night ice cream races.
Sell ”things” you no longer need
Go through your house and find the items you no longer use. Sell those toys, old kitchen gadgets, candles, small pieces of furniture and various unused personal effects.
Prepare meals at home
Let’s say you go out to restaurants regularly. It is estimated that making this same dish for yourself at home can save between $ 6 and $ 11 per meal. Now let’s say you usually eat out (at least one meal a day) five times a week. If you cut that down to three times a week, that’s a savings of $ 12 to $ 22 per person each week. If you have a family of four, that’s $ 48-88 more that can go into your travel fund.
Change the way you shop
Consider shopping at discount grocery stores, consignment stores, and farmers’ markets while saving for your trip. You don’t have to do this forever if it’s not your cup of tea, but every penny saved in the months leading up to your vacation is a penny you can spend on fun.
Use the time you spend saving to learn all you can about Disney World, including the best times of day to visit. Reloading your savings account may take longer than you expected and may not be easy, but imagine what it will be like to return home from your vacation with souvenirs rather than debt.