“Four Wheels and Disney Bound”
By Theresa Cook/The Monthly Mouse
Most of you choose the “easy “ route for traveling to everyone’s favorite family get-away by flying. But have you ever really sat down and looked at other methods of travel? What about driving? No, might not be the quickest option, depending on where you live, but it might save you hundreds to thousands if done smart.
Unless you live one or two states over, or in the same state. . . RENT!!!! By renting a car, you save the wear and tear on your own vehicle. If it breaks down, it costs you nothing. Plus they will replace your car and get you back on the road in a couple of hours, not days. I live in Ohio and for us to drive there and back (16 hours) in our own car, we’d have to change the oil upon return. No thanks!!
Yes, I did say we drive 16 hours to Walt Disney World with 3 kids. But we will get to that soon.
Renting a car is actually cheaper than flying if you do your homework and look for coupon codes, use AAA, and other discounts. Example: for our next trip, we are taking a Buick Lucerne from Avis. We rented it from a Saturday to the following Monday. Our cost? $320.66 with tax and unlimited mileage, that’s the cost of ONE round trip airfare.
Car rental goes in this order from cheapest to most expensive: monthly, weekly, weekend, daily. Most book a day as 24 hours (8am-8am).
A simple way to look up coupon codes is to Google them. I type in, “Avis/Enterprise/Hertz/etc. coupon codes” and see what they have for my needs. DO NOT BOOK ONLINE!!! Call your location and tell them you have some codes that you’d like to try. Some will work, some won’t. Some will even get you a better deal than others. And always be nice to the person booking the reservation. If you are nice to them, they will treat you well.
Saving Money on the Road
We all have one; a debit or credit card and most of these banks offer a rewards system based on usage. These rewards tend to be in the form of points that you earn for every dollar you spend. If you haven’t already, look at the rewards catalog. And if you haven’t set up you card(s) to participate in the rewards program, now’s the time to do it.
Points can be redeemed for gift cards for gas, food, hotels, and anything you might need on your drive. We use ours for gas and fast food restaurants. This cuts our “on-road” spending in half.
What to Bring (in the car)
I’m not talking about what to pack for your trip, but what to pack for the drive. It’s a no-brainer that you will need car seats, if you still have kids in them. But what about the other stuff? Do you really want to be pulling over every few minutes to get something out of the trunk?
Make sure you have the essentials within reach throughout the car, such as snacks and activities for the kids. Videos are always great to have for the kids if you have a portable DVD player. If not, there are several websites that have Disney themed car games that you can print out like Car Bingo. Plus, they’re free.
For snacks, think easy and kid sized. . . and no mess. Juicy Juice has juice boxes with clear juice that does not stain. Fruit snacks are always a good choice as are cheese sticks, raisins, and maybe even a secret treat like Safe T Pops lollipops.
A cooler with water, juice, and maybe a box of Starbuck coffee ($14 and lasts a long time)
Travel pillows and blankets. You will see why later on.
Make sure you bring a plastic bag for trash and empty it when you fill up. Plastic grocery bags are a real good choice for this and you can even ask for a bunch at the grocery store.
GPS and maps. Do not 100% trust your GPS as they can be wrong.
Wetnaps, diapers, wipes, and portable potty. You might have to take bathroom breaks at a rest stop that is closed with locked bathrooms and a 4-year-old who just can’t hold it.
Your gas cards, money, and a Prepaid Visa. Keep you debit card/credit card in the trunk.
Lastly, any medicines that need to be used during the trip there.
When to Hit the Road
Believe me when I say the best time is at night after dinner. You might want to plan this out though, as you will hit morning rush hour at 8am. So try not to be hitting a big city from 7am-9am. It’s actually easier than you think to avoid.
The main advantage to leaving at night is that the kids will sleep, which means less stopping. Put them in some comfy clothes and let them kick back.
Also, no one is one the roads at night which cuts down on traffic by 90%.
You choose what time you leave the park, not the airlines. You can turn that last day into a full day, just plan on stopping at a hotel on the way home. Most hotels along highways are $100 or less a night and offer free breakfast.
Driving is my choice over flying as it offers my family more freedom to come and go as we please. We get 7 full days, not half days which makes me feel like we’re getting more for our money. I don’t have to worry about dragging strollers and car seats, along with carry-ons, onto a plane while getting dirty looks when other passengers notice I have 3 kids.
We can have the radio on, check Facebook with our phones, and use electronics. Plus, no security checks.
I once sat down and found that we are saving over $1000 by driving. WOW!!!
Whatever you choose to do; drive, fly, train, or horse and buggy. . . we are all heading to the same great spot: Walt Disney World!!
Safe Travels Everyone!!