Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why You Shouldn't Just 'Wing It'

When I was growing up our family had a "coin jar." Our vacations consisted of a few days at the beach each year. We weren't poor, but a trip to Disney World seemed extravagant.

So, my father took an old Mott's apple juice jar (remember when they were glass and not hard plastic?) and taped a handmade sign to it that read, "COINS FOR DISNEY WORLD." At first we were really motivated. We ran around the house looking for pennies in the sofa cushions and at the bottom of purses. It seemed we were finally going to be on our way to meet Mickey Mouse! 

*Spoiler Alert: We never saved enough to get to Disney. 

We made it eventually, but no thanks to the coin jar. 

As you've probably guessed, our plan was flawed from the get-go. Mostly because we had no plan. We had no idea how much everything cost. Airfare, hotel, theme park tickets, food, car rental, etc. We just haphazardly tossed money into a glass jar hoping we'd have enough.

We had no roadmap. 

No clear path - just a blurry vision of the four of us standing in front of Cinderella Castle.

There was no Internet to rely on (this was the 1980s) and travel agents charged a hefty commission. So we were mostly on our own. As a result, we never made it to Disney as a family until after my sister and I both graduated high school.

What Does Your Roadmap Look Like?

You wouldn't go on a trip without a roadmap or a GPS, would you? I mean, if you live in New England and you want to go to Florida, would you just start driving south? Of course you wouldn't!

You'd get your plan in place. You'd think about rush hour in the cities you'll need to drive through or near (Boston, New York, DC). 

You'd think about your passengers and how many breaks you'd need (food, restroom breaks, diaper changes). 

And you'd think about how much money you would need (gas, food, hotel). In short, you'd make a plan. 

TOP 4 Things to Think About Before You Start Planning Your Vacation
  1. YOUR BUDGET: How much are you willing to be flexible with your money? Or how little? 
  2. YOUR TIMEFRAME: Will you take the kids out of school (during a less crowded time of year) or will you go in the summer or on school breaks when it's busier?
  3. YOUR MUST-SEE LIST: If your daughter wants a picture with Cinderella, your son wants to drive a race car and your husband wants to golf, how can you make these things happen?
  4. Your OK-To-Skip LIST: Knowing what you and your family don't want to do is just as important as your must-see list. Identifying this in advance will save you time and help you plan your days more efficiently. 
Taking the time to PLAN YOUR VACATION is key to reducing stress and getting the most for your time and your money. 

Piggy banks (or coin jars) are fun. They can even be great motivators. But without a plan, it's like dropping pennies in a wishing well. 

So how do you plan your vacation? Is it stressful? What would make it easier?


  1. My girlfriend and I figured it out, we first are both doing the 52 week saving challenge that is all over the internet. We know how much about we will get in a tax return and both are willing to put a percentage of the return toward the trip. By do doing this we will be in disney next year. Hopefull as in the past few years the time we are going will offer free dining and we would have over saved for the trip

  2. That's fabulous! The free dining offer is such a great deal - hope you're able to take advantage of it so you can spend your money on some other fun things. Keep in touch with us on Facebook or sign up to receive our newsletter at info@magicaltravel.com and we'll keep you posted on when it's offered again. Thank you for your comment!

  3. You are welcome. It is so true you really need to plan out your trip. There is so much to do and see at Disney knowing your plan will help you enjoy it so much more. It is also important to be flexible cause you are on vacation, so go with the flow amd let some magic find you.

  4. What can I say, I am a Disney nut and can not wait to show her and her child the magic too. I sure will sign up for ypur news letter. Thanks for the great read again.