Do you take family vacations? I know it’s not an option for every family. It wasn’t for my family growing up. My first real ‘vacation’ (i.e. not traveling to visit family) was at age 18, to Slovakia. It was a trip to visit an exchange student I had become close friends with during my freshman year – a graduation gift from my parents – and I was hooked from that moment on. The sights, sounds, tastes and smells of a place so different than I was used to…it’s a feeling I can’t even describe. My husband got to go on a few family vacations as a teen with extended family, and loved it also. So vacations are important to us – something we decided early on was a priority for our family. I know not everyone feels the same…but to each their own, right? To us, our vacations are a time we feel we can spend an entire week of quality time with our children and each other, while also giving them an experience and memories that will last a lifetime.
How do we pay for our vacations? We certainly aren’t rolling in the dough, that’s for sure! We use our tax refund. As a family of 6 – with home improvements, car repairs, and kids who have hollow pits for stomachs, and are always wearing out shoes or the knees in their jeans – saving for a vacation out of our normal budget is not just difficult, it would be almost impossible. So earmarking our tax refund is a fairly painless way for us to fund our yearly trip. Of course, every family is different with different priorities, and I know it is not feasible for everyone – and I certainly don’t want to discuss my finances too in-depth here, or debate the political side of taxes – but each year we get a tax refund, padded a bit due to tax credits for our 4 children.
With this year’s refund, we are taking our kids to Disney World for the first week of December (Christmas at Disney – but without the high prices or crowds of later December)! We have taken them to Disney before, in 2010 during the same time of year with my husband’s sister, her husband and their 4 children. They were on the brink of separation, however, so while it was still a fun vacation and they certainly put on a happy face for their kids – the tension was palpable. We also stayed off-property for that trip, which allowed us as a group of 12 to stay together and save money. Oh, and the weather? Record lows, of course! They even had a freeze warning in effect while we were there. Thanks, Mother Nature! Whatever the circumstances though, Disney magic still worked its wonders. Our kids loved it – as did my husband and I – and decided then and there that we wanted to go back again (just our family this time).
We know realistically this is the last chance for us to go back to Disney World as a family (when we go the kids will be 10, 12, 13 and 16), so we are making it happen and want to make it the best trip yet. Mixed with that, however, is also having to still be budget-minded…because even if we are going at a discounted time of year – Disney is expensive. We want to stay on-property this year, which is even more expensive. Oh, and I think I mentioned before that we also have some major birthday celebrations to plan this year – so, my plan is to utilize every tool I can to save money while planning this vacation (and those birthdays)! Stick with me – I’ll be sharing the ups and downs of our planning here!
If you have any tips or tricks you’ve used to save while at Disney, or to save money to help pay for your vacation – let me know! I’d love to hear your advice!