So if you have been reading our site or watching on our Facebook page, you know that we are on vacation right now! We went on vacation for the Christmas holiday and are still enjoying our family time. We have had a few bumps in the road (literally) but all-in-all, it has been a great time so far!
We haven’t told you yet just where we are, so…. We decided to take a trip to Southern California!
As many of you know, we declared that we are “debt-free” earlier this year. With that, came work, commitment, sacrifice, encouragement and accountability to shed ourselves of our financial stupidity! So, after all that we had put into this to get out, we wanted and planned to take a vacation the entire family could enjoy in celebration.
When we sat down with our kids and said “what should our celebration vacation be?” What words do you think were uttered out of the mouths of a 4, 5, and 6 year old??? Would the word DISNEYLAND make sense?
But we didn’t want to do just Disneyland but a vacation where Disneyland was involved. Now let us start off by saying that this trip as had a few bumps in the road (literally) and we will explain more as we continue to share with you.
Here’s how we planned and saved in hopes that this information will help your family to take a vacation (whether Southern California or anywhere else).
First bit of advice from our well earned Doctorate Finance Degree from the School of Life: Don’t take a vacation that you cannot afford because it can get you into a lot of trouble!
Second, always plan on your trip costing more than you expect and plan for the unexpected financially.
With those two important notes out of the way, here’s what we did:
- Sat down as a family after declaring debt-freedom to decide where we would like to celebrate this accomplishment. And heard those words that are a nightmare to some parents ears: Disneyland.
- We also wanted to add a couple of the adult favorites like Sea World and the beach.
- We researched the initial cost of the trip and to find our price points to beat over the next several months.
- We then determined how much we needed to save each paycheck. We just saved a portion of the paycheck as we have other financial goals that we want to meet as well.
- Then we start planning and trying to find deals over the following months and cut costs to save even more.
So, we wanted to share with you the first area of savings for our personal vacation this year and ideas to help you save on accommodations in the future!
For this trip from Utah to Southern California, we needed two types of accommodations for this trip: Hotel Suite and 2-Bedroom Condo.
We needed the hotel suite (as there is 6 of us) for one-night stay for half the trip down and up. With 4 little kids, it is too long and stressful for us to make it in one day – it is intended to be a vacation!
We ended up with a mini-suite at a chain hotel for $58.
- Looked up the rates for a family of 6 on Travelocity for our location. This became our price point. We were quoted $116 for the hotel we preferred and lower than many in the area.
- We then went to this Hotel Chain’s website directly and did that same search on their website. We were quoted $89 with our AAA discount.
- We then called the front desk of the actual location and talked to the person that makes reservations. After asking for the lowest possible rates available and also the AAA discount. The gentleman on the other end said he could get us this mini-suite for $58 for that night! SWEET!
We also wanted to get a condo resort type for the actual stay in Southern Cal. This was a bit more work and we booked a “back-up” in case we couldn’t get the deal we were hoping. We ended up with something much better than expected!
After much diligence, we ended up with a condo with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a pull-out couch bed, full and complete kitchen and fully furnished and stocked with the essentials! Just the room we wanted! This will give us space, real sleep so we can be in separate bedrooms, saving money on food/eating out and many more benefits.
We knew before that it was a block from the beach, but what we didn’t know was what that meant! When we got here, it was beautiful! We have a porch overlooking the ocean (see our picture at the top) and we have thoroughly enjoyed the site, smell and sound of the big blue ocean (it really is a rare site for us Idaho/Utahans!). We spent the first two days here hanging on the beach! We can’t even express how much of a blessing it was to land this deal! There was no way we would have paid for something like this and so we are very thankful to have a relaxing place to stay!
The price we paid for this amazing accommodations: $110 a night! This is about 1/3 the cost they normally charge! To find tips on landing a deal on a condo resort type accommodation, see our previous post!
And to top off our vacation, it was 75 degrees when we got here! We had one day of rain so far, but incredibly beautiful and warm compared to the previous week when we were all watching Southern California get hit hard with that rain!
We will next share how we are saving money on food and eating out while down here.