Hello friends! It has been a hot minute since I last shared a Mom Hack Monday with you all! With Easter, Spring Break, etc, my life got a bit hectic! I’m glad to say I’m back at it, and wanting to get things back on track by starting back up with a BANG! By bang I mean, a really good blog post! 😉 Today I’m talking all things Family Travel!
So, as you might have noticed; we recently traveled to Florida for spring break. It was a VERY last minute trip, as we originally had plans to head to Bald Head Island in North Carolina for the break. Long story short- we had invited a few friends to come along with us. We rearranged our plans, moved around dates, and even ended up changing the location to accommodate everyone. Well, everything sorta fell through. When you’re planning with that many people, it happens. So, we were running short on time. We knew we wanted to vacation somewhere with the boys, but not only did we no longer have an Air bnb, but the weather changed to be full on rain every. single. day!! I think we were all pretty disappointed and upset at this point. Not to mention, we had a budget we really wanted to stick to. You see, it was April. April means tax season, and tax season when you’re self employed is no fun.
One of my goals for the new year was to spend less on “things” and invest in Memories! So, I wasn’t going to let this stop us! Plus, poor Beckham had been talking about his “spring break vacation,” for months now! No, I’m serious. Every teacher, aid, physical therapist, Occupational Therapist, they all knew Beckham could not wait to go to the beach on his vacation! There was no way I was going to let him down. The thought of his disappointed face was enough for me to work some magic!
I started to research places to go on vacation that would have good weather, wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, and had nice beaches. I looked up Miami Florida, California, Virginia Beach, etc. The prices were all outrageous at this point. Lets not forget, I booked our flights just a day before spring break! I thought to myself, I wish I could put in the dates I want to go, the departing airport, and have a website that would show me the pricing for traveling to”anywhere.” That way I could browse different destinations, and decide from there! So, I googled a bit, and found this website called Skiplagged! You can literally put in the dates you want to travel, the departing airport, and hit “anywhere” as the destination! Mind blown! It showed me the best deals for the dates I was traveling, and low and behold, there was $38 flights to West Palm Beach Florida on the exact date we were leaving! Again, mind blown!!! I had looked up several airports in Florida, but had no idea about West Palm Beach. I would have never found this flight had I not found this website.
Now, the one tricky thing about Skiplagged, is that even though you might find an amazing deal, SOMETIMES you’ll find a flight labeled under “Hidden City.” What this means is that your final destination is technically the airlines layover. So, no checked bags folks! If you do check a bag, it will go somewhere you are NOT! This is something to bare in mind if you are traveling. Light packers- this is for YOU! We were lucky enough to find cheap flights that were not hidden city, but it is something to keep in mind when booking a flight.
Another thing I loved about this website is that it makes it very easy to play around with dates to find the best flight. In fact, we booked our departing and returning flights separately! Why? Because for some reason you save a ton of money doing it that way. Our flights to West Palm Beach were $160 total for 4 tickets. Our flight home was $340 total. To find the best deal, we ended up booking our returning flight from Sarasota. Yes, it was a drive. Was it worth it? YES!
We ended up booking our hotel in Orlando, and stayed central. We saved all of the traveling for the first day and drove straight to our hotel, did all of our activities there (Legoland, Wonderworks, etc) and spent our last day at the beach closer to the airport. It worked our perfectly, we saved a ton of money, and the boys would just nap the entire time we traveled. It was genius!
Where we Stayed-
Now, our Resort. We found a Groupon for an amazing hotel in Orlando called Liki Tiki Village by Diamond Resorts. It had three pools, a water park, mini golf, fishing etc, for $44 a night! Insert mouth drop emoji here. Did I mention it had a kitchen? YES PLEASE! If you are wanting to budget, I would highly suggest finding a resort with a kitchen. We only had to eat out three times. Snacks, lunch, and sometimes even dinner was served in the comfort of our hotel room. We went grocery shopping the first night and stocked up our kitchen for the week. Another great thing about this hotel is that not only is the kitchen stocked with plates, cups, silverware, baking supplies etc, but it also had a washer and dryer! Say what??! Yes, it was that good. There is a small resort fee per day, and a refundable $100 deposit that’s returned once you check out. I did not count the $100 in our budget since that was returned to us.
We called around and were able to find the best deal on rental cars through Groupon for Budget Rental. We found a mid size SUV that easily fit all of us. A 2019 Toyota Highlander to be exact. My husband loved the Safety Sense, and that it could basically drive itself! We paid just over $200 for about 5 days. We also paid for our gas up front because we knew we would be traveling a lot. I would definitely recommend this if you are planning to travel during your trip, simply because you can get a better gas rate and you don’t have to fill the car up before dropping it back off. We left ours almost bone dry and didn’t feel bad about it!
Activities and Food-
This is where it gets fun! Sure, we have our flights and resort booked; now what? What are we supposed to do on this vacation? Well, I learned fairly quickly that there are tons of awesome deals for activities in Orlando! We purchased the Go Orlando card, and were able to go to LEGOland and Wonderworks for a huge discount! We would have chosen one more excursion, but decided to dedicate one full day to the beach. Now, buyers BEWARE! Do not, I repeat, DO NOT buy a Go City card from Groupon. First of all, I saved way more by booking through Smart Destinations, and second of all; you can’t use same day groupon vouchers. So, if you bought a groupon in the morning, you’d have to wait a full 24 hours to use it. For me that wouldn’t have worked, because this trip (again) was very last minute! Other then that, Groupon all the way! We saved big by using them for our Resort. Total was $434 for Wonderworks AND Legoland for two adults, two children (Cruze was free).
When it came to eating out, we also saved big! Because we booked our hotel through Groupon, we were given a $25 dining credit, plus an extra $10 off of that. We just picked it up at the front desk, and chose to head to Planet Hollywood! This was perfect because we were able to explore Disney Springs, but also because the atmosphere was so much fun for the boys! I would highly suggest their bbq chicken tostadas if you haven’t. DELICIOUS! Our meal for three kids (Cruze just shared with us) and two adults came to $35 after the credit was deducted. We even bought dessert. YESSS!! Our other big meals were seafood (because duh, and Columbian food). We did’t go fancy, but man did we eat deliciously well! The columbian food there was especially delicious! Im still craving empanadas!
Travel Totals- 2 adults, 2 children (baby flies free)
Resort 4 night stay- $264 (this includes the resort fees)
Rental Car- $220
Grand Total- $1,418
We did have to do some grocery shopping, and we did eat out for three meals. Altogether id say we were closer to $1,600 with food. Considering our goal was to keep it around $1,500, id say we did a pretty dang good job!
I truly hope this post helps anyone who is thinking about traveling as a family. We had such a blast! On the way home my husband asked the boys if they liked our Cruise to the Bahamas, or our trip Florida more. Our cruise to the Bahamas was close to 5k. Bet you can’t guess which they chose. Yeah, Florida! It just goes to show that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a lot of fun!