Disney + Travel Tips || Part Two - Hotels, Cars and Budgeting

Welcome back to part two of my travel trips for budget friendly travel! Today I'm going to be sharing my tips for hotels, rental cars and budgeting in general. Again, these posts are not sponsored. I'm sharing what we use and love!

Part One - How to Fly for Free Click Here.
Part Three - All Things Disneyland Tips Click Here. 
Part Four - Flying with Kids Click Here. 

Lets start with budgets. First thing; traveling is going to cost money. Period. Obviously you're going to spend some change when it comes to traveling but how can you get the most bang for your buck?

Set a budget and stick to it. We typically plan on spending $2,000 for a hotel + Disneyland tickets (3 day park hopper for 3 of us. Finn is still free). We usually try to stick around the $1,600 mark. This is only for hotel and tickets. Not food, souvenirs, flights, etc. But in our last post we covered flights and how we almost always fly for free! So how do you come up with $2,000 for hotel and tickets? Well $2,000 is about $167 per month for a year which is roughly $40 a week. So during our month we try to cut costs, meal plan, and save money so we can spend it on our vacation. Vacation is huge for our family. Josh works hard and so do I as a mom. Getting to spend time together doing what we love with the boys means everything to us so we cut costs during the year to be able to do this. This is why I don't have a new outfit to link with Like to Know It every week or whatever it may be. That's not our reality and I'm fine with that as long as I get my yearly vacation with my family. When we were poor college students we did not have an extra $1,000 - $2,000 no matter how many costs we cut so instead of doing a week stay at Disneyland, we opted for a few nights with a one or two day pass to Disney instead of a 3 or 4 day park hopper. You just do what works for your budget and be grateful :) 

Check hotels, a lot! You guys, I'm always checking hotels and packages. Like at least once every month or so. I love going through booking.com or getawaytoday.com. These are the two places where I always find fantastic deals! Getawaytoday has a great layaway option. You can book your hotel + tickets in one package and pay on it month by month which is great if you don't want to pay a large lump sum. Booking.com has a great Free Cancellation feature. We like to use this feature (which is usually about $100 extra but worked into the final cost of the hotel) when we're still shopping around. Currently we have two hotels booked, both have a free cancellation policy up to a week before our stay. So if something does come along that is cheaper or a nicer hotel we can cancel the other rooms free of charge and go with the hotel/price that fits what we want out of our vacation! 

AirBNB and HomeAway. I know a lot of people who say this is cheaper than a hotel but honestly I've never found it to be cheaper or closer to Disneyland in the past couple years I've checked. If you're traveling with more than your own family then I think it would be cheaper to get a house and split the cost. But if it is just you and your kids I always find that a hotel is the way to go. 

Hotel Distance. This last time we went to Disneyland we stayed .3 miles from the park and it was AWESOME! No loading and unloading strollers, bags and kids into a car/shuttle. Being able to get up and walk to the park was the best! Another reason why I recommend staying close to the park is because there is no need for a rental car = money saved. Apparently now you can even get the local Vons grocery store to deliver groceries to your hotel! We may plan on doing this next time. Also, if you search Vons Anaheim delivery you can usually find a free delivery coupon.

Speaking of Food. You always want to bring your own snacks to Disneyland. It saves SO MUCH MONEY because park food is pricey! So you can either have food delivered like mentioned above or if you're flying southwest, use one of your free luggage bags as food storage. This next trip we will be packing lots of dry food. Think granola bars, pretzels, pop tarts, pringles, fig newtons, cereal as well as plastic bowls, utensils and ziplock baggies etc. That way the only thing we'd really need is milk, fresh veggies and other perishable items. which we can have delivered.

Airport Transfer. We almost always rented a car but once we started staying close to the park, it's way cheaper to just walk, obviously. So how to get from LAX to your hotel? There are lots of options, Uber, Lyft, Shuttles, etc..We're thinking of trying out SuperShuttle which is about $50 one way airport to hotel transfer from LAX. I'll update to let you know how we liked it! 

Hotels. Lets talk hotels again. What matters most to you? Closeness to the park? 5 Stars? Motel/Hotel setting? Free breakfast? Sometimes you can't have it all when you're on a budget so pick what is most important and then shop around. Again, set your budget then divide and conquer ;) Figure out how many days you'll want at the parks, figure costs for rental car or shuttle and then figure your hotel budget and shop around. Sometimes if I can't find something that works in our budget I'll wait a month and look again. 

Off Season. We never travel during peak seasons. We don't like crowds at all and would rather go when a ride or two is shut down for maintenance. There aren't as many parades or firework shows but we usually don't mind because the kids are out by then anyway. Spending time together and sticking to a budget is our top priority over parades and other things + I don't mind going when the park closes at 8 or 9 pm because even that is a long day for the boys. Being back at the hotel by 10 is great and gives them plenty of time to get rested and ready for the next day. By traveling during the slow season almost everything is cheaper. Our favorite time to go is February, May or Fall. When we went in February we were able to do 17 rides in one day! It was amazing. We walked on almost every single ride.  

Book in advance. We usually book at least 5-8 months in advance for travel. It's typically cheaper all around the further out you book. I know it sounds crazy but when we are on vacation is when we start looking at hotels for our next vacation. I know, crazy! But you can find great deals that far out and when we know we have another vacation to look forward to (even if it is months and months away) It's easier to budget every month because you have something to look forward too and a goal you're working towards. 

Next post I'll be talking about Disneyland specifically. 

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