Some of you may know that my family and I are on a much needed vacation this week. We typically visit Disneyland once or twice a year as my wife and I both have family in the area but this year has been different. We weren’t able to go to Disneyland during our usual time at the end of last year so we decided to plan a much larger and more spectacular Disney trip for this year.
We got a really nice hotel room about 15 minutes from Disneyland, annual passes and we’ve been saving our pennies to make sure we could enjoy our trip without having to worry too much about money. It’s been a great trip so far and has been worth all the time, money and effort we put into making it happen.
But it has taken a lot of planning, effort and money to make this happen though so when I see the chance to save some dough, I take it. One thing that may slip peoples minds when they are on vacation is to keep you eye out for deals while traveling, not just before and after. So here are some ways we have saved money on this trip.
When you travel, there are certain costs that come into play like gas if you drive your own car, parking, bus rides and taxis. Those costs really add up and I can see why people like to find their destination on a beach somewhere and just chill for a week. But we have places to go and things to see so sitting in the hotel is not an option.
To cut travel costs once we reached our destination, we called the different hotels in the area to see who offered a free shuttle to Disneyland. Not all the hotels nearby offer this service but if you find one that does, that can help you decide where to stay. A shuttle to and from your desired destination is not only going to save you gas but you’ll be spared the cost of parking and the headache of trying to navigate unfamiliar streets and traffic. Even if the shuttle costs a few dollars per person, it’s worth it if you compare the cost of what you would deal with if you had to drive your own vehicle.
While most shuttles only go a few select places such as the big events near the hotel, be sure to ask your hotel staff if they have free or discounted shuttles, taxis or hotel vehicles to other nearby attractions you may want to visit.
Special events and event discounts
Hotels have the hookups for sure. If you have an idea of the things you want to see once you reach the hotel, be sure to check with your hotel staff to see what kind of event tickets, discounts and bonuses they have for nearby events. Some hotels have free passes to places you may want to go and all you have to do is ask for them. In other cases, the hotel can sell you tickets to events right at the front desk so you don’t have to worry about getting tickets in advance or at the door. Our hotel did have standard Disneyland passes at a %20 discount but we had different plans so didn’t take advantage of this option.
Trust the locals. Become a local.
Special events that are location dependent like Disneyland offer special rates to locals. I can see exactly why; how many times have you heard of someone discovering a tourist attraction in their own back yard? Most of the time this happens after someone moves away and realizes what they are missing and because of that well known phenomenon, attractions like Disneyland want to do what they can to get local attention and local patrons. Disneyland offers a huge discount for annual passes to Southern Californians. One thing you may not know though is that passes like this can be given as a gift and can even be purchased online.
My parents still live in California so we enlisted their help in grabbing some hugely discounted annual passes. All that is required is the local resident use their credit card to purchase the ticket so the zip code on the cards billing address can be used to verify the purchasers residence in the qualifying area. So we had my parents buy our tickets and paid them what it cost. We were able to get annual passes for both Disneyland and California Adventure for almost the exact cost of a 3-day park hopper pass that lets you in both parks. Because of that, we are able to go to Disneyland as much as we want this week, we aren’t rushed or worn out by trying to fit our entire Disneyland trip into one or even three days and we won’t have to pay for Disneyland tickets when we come back in the next year. We will probably try and go to Disneyland twice more before the passes expire and that alone will save us over $1,000 in total cost.
No matter where you intend to travel, enlist the help of your friends that have been there or live there. See what kind of discounts are offered to locals and see what secret tips your local friends can offer you. They will be a huge asset when it comes to cutting costs and getting the most for your money.
One final word of advice when it comes to asking for help: make sure you do all the research you can so your friends or family only have to do what you absolutely cannot do. You can even offer them a cut of the savings as a convenience charge if you feel the need to. Don’t take advantage of your friends and family to save a buck.
Manners count most.
My final tip today will be your greatest weapon in cost saving as well as the easiest to do.
When I got to the hotel, I spent some time getting to know the lady that checked me in. I asked her questions, smiled and had a pleasant conversation. I learned her name and could recognize her face when we walked by during our stay. I made a point to talking to her and other people at the front desk whenever I was near there.
Why waste my time? Because these people are the ones that have control over our stay. If we needed fresh towels, cleaning, room maintenance or to book the shuttle, we needed to go through them. I wanted to make sure they knew me by name and that they wanted to help me when I needed something.
Soon after we checked in, I realized that one thing we never checked on was if the hotel had free wi-fi. As it turns out, the wifi cost $10 per device per day and that could have really broken our budget. For some people, that’s no big deal and they just don’t use the Internet but even on vacation there are things I have to do on the Internet on the freelance side to keep my clients happy. While I did have a backup plan in case there was no Internet in the hotel, I went to talk to my friends at the front desk.
I simply brought up the fact that the Internet was not free in our conversation and the lady at the front desk happily comped the Internet cost for the entire week.
Another bonus I discovered in our conversations at the front desk is that the hotel has a lounge that offers free drinks during a certain time. I decided to check that out on our first night. I found that while all drinks were free, virgin drinks were limited to some soft drinks set out for kids and families to help themselves. This was nice but a little disappointing. While I was there though, I got to know the bartender a little bit. I spoke with her about our trip, plans and schedule. We had a great conversation and the next night she greeted us with a smile. Not only that, she offered to make us whatever virgin drinks we wanted, special. So we had her make up a couple drinks and lounged around for a while. We talked with her as she worked for about an hour and at the end of her shift she brought out some cheesecake for my wife and I.
It doesn’t take much for a trip to spin out of control; a flat tire, a miscommunication with reservations or a hidden charge that throws off the whole budget but if you have a plan set out and enlist the help of new and old friends, everything will turn out just right.
Do you have any tips for having the perfect vacation?
Image by Rdoke br>
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