There’s nothing magical about depleting your nest egg to finance a vacation. Too many Disney vacationers can tell you that money concerns overshadowed all the fun. You can avoid both the realities and worries of overspending by planning within a budget. Budgeting ahead of time not only keeps you from spending too much, it encourages you to seek out ways to save money. With just a little bit of research, you can often get more for less, resulting in a richer, more relaxed vacation.
If you purchase a vacation package, you have the advantage of covering most of your major expenses up front. And, while Disney's package prices haven't offered a real savings in the past, they've recently been offering decent deals. Can't find a package with a great deal? Planning each aspect of your vacation separately often saves you even more money, as we show throughout this book. You can learn about vacation packages in Choosing a Disney Hotel, inquire about prices with the Walt Disney Travel Company at 714-520-5060, or find current offers on the web at https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/special-offers-deals-discounts/. You can also get the scoop on available packages at http://www.mousesavers.com.
Your vacation expenses usually fall into six categories: planning, transportation, lodging, admission, food, and extras. How you budget for each depends upon the total amount you have available to spend and your priorities. Planning, transportation, lodging, and admission are the easiest to factor ahead of time, as costs are more or less fixed. The final two—food and extras— are harder to control, but can usually be estimated.
Begin your vacation budgeting with the worksheet on the following page (or online at DisneyPlanner.com). Enter the minimum you prefer to spend and the maximum you can afford in the topmost row. Establish as many of these ranges as possible before you delve into the other chapters of this book. Your excitement may grow as you read more about the Disneyland Resort and surrounding attractions, but it is doubtful your bank account will.
As you uncover costs and ways to save money later, return to this worksheet and update it. Think of your budget as a work in progress. Flexibility within your minimum and maximum figures is important. As plans begin to crystallize, write the amount you expect to pay (and can afford) in the Estimated Costs column. Finally, when you are satisfied with your budget, transfer the amounts from the Estimated Costs column on the worksheet to the back of each PassPocket (in print editions). Note that each PassPocket also provides space to record actual expenses, which helps you stay within your budget. Tip: This worksheet and many others are available in electronic, interactive versions, and some even do the calculations for you—see page for details.