Money-saving Homeschool
Disney Vacation

Can you keep a secret? This fall, we are planning a homeschool Disney vacation! My husband and I are so excited we're ready to burst, BUT we are keeping it a complete surprise from our 10yo (girl) and 6yo (boy).

Last year was the first time our family went on a real vacation in a l-o-n-g time; we combined our family get-away around our second oldest daughter's first trip to college. Her college is in Washington, DC, so we did a DC/Virginia family vacation.

Anyway, the reason why we went vacation-less for so long was due to the depressed economy. It was particularily difficult being self-employed and living in Michigan, and as a result, vacations became non-existent for our family as we struggled to make ends meet.

For the past few years we have pinched our pennies, tightened our belts, stretched every dollar, skimped and anything else you need to do to make sure your mortgage is paid and your family is fed and clothed.

So our homeschool Disney vacation will be a pretty special trip for our two youngest; I can't wait until the day arrives.

Disney on the Cheap

We could never afford to go to Disney if it wasn't for the homeschool Disney program hosted twice a year. For a homeschooling family, it's really the best time to go - and one of the cheapest!

The cheapest time to go to Disney is in January and February, but the Fall months are less expensive too, and less crowded since summer vacations are over and everyone will be back at school.

Research, Research, Research!

Some ways I am planning to save money is by doing a lot of research before buying anything. I used a helpful gas-estimate tool at gasbuddy.com, so I could figure out how much it would cost to drive to Orlando, Florida from our little town in New Hampshire.

GasBuddy has a trip calculator where you can enter your car's make and year to better estimate gas costs. For our car, it will cost between $450-$520+ depending on gas prices when we go. When I was planning a couple months ago, gas prices were higher and it was going to cost us $520 or so to travel the 2545 miles; I just checked again today and gas prices went down, so it would only cost $457.

Consider ALL Costs

So I could budget correctly, I also needed to consider the distance. I don't think our family could drive straight through to Orlando without stopping, so I figured about $150 extra for a hotel room each way.

I also considered driving time. From NH, it is going to take almost 20 hours (one way) of driving time - yikes!

Another thing to take into consideration is wear and tear on your vehicle. 2500 miles isn't a short trip and with an older vehicle, something is sure to need fixing either before or after the long trip.

Driving vs Flying

Since I knew that our travel expenses would cost us around $650 or so without any car repairs (plus 40+ hours of driving), I have been watching airfares from Boston airport... for over a year! Because I had done so much research, I knew a good airfare when I saw it. I ended up finding cheap flights from a smaller, yet closer NH airport. Surprisingly, they were cheaper than any flights I've seen out of Boston, AND we wouldn't have to pay the extra $30 in gas to get to Boston and back, nor would we have to worry about our car or airport parking fees!

Would you believe that our round-trip airline tickets only cost approx. $100 more than driving costs? AND we will be there in three hours - what a great way to start our educational homeschool Disney vacation!

Money-Saving Disney Tips

So far my money-saving tips for our homeschool Disney trip are:

1. Take advantage of Disney's Homeschool Days.

2. Research all modes of transportation (car, train, airplane, etc.) to determine the most cost-effective method of travel for your family.

3. Estimate all travel expenses - budget for gas, flights and car rental, hotel, drive time and wear and tear on vehicle, road tolls, meals on the road, etc.

4. Use a trip calculator like GasBuddy to better estimate gas costs when traveling by car.

5. Find low-cost airlines in your area and sign-up for their updates. After watching flights for over a year, the cheapest flights I've seen have been directly through the airlines; this may not always be the case, but it has been true for our trip.

Shhhhh....

It's pretty safe to say that you won't share our secret as you will probably never see my two littles, but if by chance you do, please don't say anything - the plane trip, the destination, and excursion to Disney are going to be an absolute surprise. :)

Have you taken a thrifty Disney vacation before? Have you attended Disney Homeschool Days? Share any money-saving tips and advice for me and other dollar-stretching homeschooling families.

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