Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Housewife on Vacation

Vacationing on a budget can be a difficult thing to do. And vacationing on a budget in one of the most touristy cities in the Universe might seem....well, a bit of a mission impossible.

Orlando. Orlando is a crazy mix of overpriced theme parks and the $2 souvenir t-shirt at a ratty dump of a tourist trap gas station. So, how does a family take two toddlers for a good time for a week without having to take a second mortgage on the house (or without having to clothe ourselves in $2 shirts for the rest of the year)?

So far, we are in the planning stages. We are going this month and we are still working on a plan of how to save on activities, food, and fun. But, here is what we have come up with so far:

We broke down our trip into a few categories. These usually represent the largest expenses of vacations:



Living reasonably close to Orlando, we are lucky enough to be able to drive there. Our only real issue is the price of gas. Packing lightly helps increase gas mileage so, we are taking out anything we don't need for the trip and making sure that we consider everything we pack. We plan on taking half a week's clothes and doing wash in the middle of our trip. Hopefully it will help streamline our packing efforts as well!

I have to work hard on this with the Husband because he will pack the kitchen sink if I let him. He is forever throwing in just a few more things or packing as though we won't be near a store if he finds he is in dire need of a 10th pair of white socks. He's getting better but it's hard when he is the polar opposite of my packing personality.


We are cheating when it comes to lodging. It isn't that I don't know how to score a great deal on an awesome hotel (we once got a beautiful 2 bedroom condo with a private indoor hot tub in Williamsburg for $99 a night!) but, my in-laws were generous enough to let us use an extra week of a timeshare they have. So, it will be a nice extra to have a separate place to put the kids to sleep since they still go down so early and there will also be a kitchen which brings me to.....


Food is one of the most expensive propositions on a trip. Snacks on the road, breakfast, lunch, dinners, special treats for the kids. It just never stops. So, I am meal planning just like I would at home. Just tonight I made a ginormous batch of chili of which half will land in the freezer. Before we leave, I'll take it out and it will defrost on the way. I will do a couple of other freezer cooking dishes. That way, we'll have home cooked and cheap meals but, I can still be on vacation! Most everything will already be cooked.

We will be grocery shopping once we arrive with the list I will premake so that we don't get off track because we are in a "vacation" mindset.

That doesn't mean there won't be some special treats. Our big splurge will be a Character Breakfast for the kids. But, with the rest of the food budget reigned in, we can make that work.


Entertainment in Orlando can be a real killer. I checked recently and tickets to Disney are almost $80 each for ONE day! That's enough to wilt the mouse ears of even the most die hard Disney fans. But, with two toddlers, did we really  need to go to the parks or would there be enough things that are non Disney or just Disneyesque to amuse all of us?

A little research turned up a boatload of options. One that I am particularly excited about is the Orlando Science Center. I SO wish we had one of these where we live. There are story times, stingray feedings, play areas, science exhibits that are kid friendly....all awesome looking stuff. We will definitely be there. $17 per adult and our kids will be free.

There is also a place called Monkey Joes which is a big indoor inflatables playground. They even have a spot for younger kids to play safely on their own inflatables.

There is the largest play McDonalds in the Universe. I'm not usually a fan of McDonalds but, it's worth a shot to see if the kids love to play there.

There is, of course, Downtown Disney with the lego playland and Disney appeal.

Of course, there is the character breakfast which will feature Winnie the Pooh and Tigger- really the only two Disney Characters the kids are familiar with. Also, another Disneyesque idea is paying the $14 parking fee to one of the parks and then taking the kids for a thrilling ride on the Monorail (they love trains) or the ferry.

We are lucky enough that the timeshare has lots of activities for kids that we can take part in as well as a great pool area that the kids love- all included in the timeshare week.

We are so looking forward to some great family time and an opportunity to relax without feeling like we are opening our wallets and pouring them out on the doorstep of a theme park. I will let you know how we do!

1 comment:

  1. Oooo, I love the ideas of the Science Center and the inflatables place! I'll have to incorporate those in our next trip.

    Great post! :-)