Are you planning a Disney trip any time soon? Whether it's in a few months or a few years, you will find yourself overwhelmed at the cost at one point or another. Sure, you can spread out the expenses by paying for it little by little in advance (ie. your hotel room, park tickets etc.), but you still need money for when you're actually there! If you're anything like me, you will be tempted with merchandise around every corner just begging you to buy it. Or if merchandise isn't your thing, you might find yourself drawn to the various dining options in the parks. Either way, one thing is for sure: no matter how hard you try, you will spend more money than you thought once you arrive. After all it's vacation, YOLO, right?
So how much do you need? Since everything else has a set price, you are left with trying to figure out how much to bring with you for food and fun. A general rule of thumb I follow is to plan for $50 per person per day (everyone in your party over the age of 3). If you know you are going to be dining at nice restaurants and indulging in adult beverages, I would add a little more to that number.
Since that seems like a lot of money once you do the math ($1400 for a family of 4 for 7 days). you need to come up with a savings plan. I have always had a hard time saving cash for a trip because it feels like something always comes up and I end up spending that money. So over the years I've come up with a much easier way to save: gift cards.
Where do I get them? You can find Disney gift cards almost anywhere: Grocery stores, Target, The Disney Store, Walmart and the list can go on and on. Every time I find myself in one of those stores, I grab a $25 or $50 card and activate it. Now my Disney money is locked up and I can't spend it on stupid things. Before you know it, you will have quite a collection of cards! You can even save money on these by going to a Costco type store where they are slightly discounted.
Ok, this sounds great and all, but now I have a giant stack of $25 gift cards that are going to be super hard to manage and annoying to carry around once I'm on vacation. Good thing I've got a few solutions for you!
Your first option is to take them to guest services as soon as you arrive and have them combined into one card or a few if you plan on handing them out to everyone in your party. Your other option is to add them to your room so when you are charging your dinners and merchandise to your Magic Band or room key, they will automagically (see what I did there?!) be deducted and your actual credit card won't be charged until the gift cards are depleted. This option is nice because then you don't have to worry about carrying them around the parks. If you ever want to know how much you have left, you can always go to your hotel and ask to see your bill. It will tell you how much credit you have left before it will start charging your credit card.
Hopefully that helps make the expense of a family Disney trip a little easier to handle. I guess I should take my own advice and get to the grocery store to pick up a few gift cards considering my trip is next month and then again in 3 months!