How We Saved to Take Our Daughter to Disney 40 Times

How We Saved to Take Our Daughter to Disney 40 Times

As a family, we have traveled a lot. We are big Disney fans, and over the course of 17 years, we have taken our daughter to Disney World 40 times.

Travel is important to our family; that has been our mindset from the very start. We have done more than just Disney trips; we have taken our daughter to new places every opportunity we get. We have gone on all kinds of trips throughout her life. We have explored local areas, visited other states, been on cruises, and visited other countries.

Travel has been a great way for our family to bond and has shared memories. Now that Brooke has graduated, we can look back on our time traveling. The one thing we don’t have enough of is time, and travel allows us to spend time together as a family. With Brooke preparing to move away for college, we are so grateful that we have created so many memories while traveling.

You don’t have to be incredibly wealthy in order to travel often; here are some of the ways we have afforded our family trips over the years.


Plan Bigger Trips In Advance

If you’re planning a more expensive trip like an all-inclusive resort, a cruise, or Disney, then plan it as far in advance as possible. This gives you more time to save money.

Prices are also lower when you book further in advance. A lot of travel works on supply and demand, so the prices will be higher closer to the date of travel.

Find a Travel Agent

A travel agent can help you find savings and compare all the different choices that are available. This is particularly important for Disney vacations and cruises that offer a lot of different options for meal and drink packages and add-ons.

The knowledge an experienced travel agent has about when sales occur will be priceless to your family if you use the same travel agent regularly. They will be able to tell you the times of year that Disney or other companies usually release a sale. They will even email you when there are sales on the type of trip you take regularly. My wife is a travel agent, so she handles that for us. We book Disney trips whenever my wife sees a Disney sale.'

Get a free quote for your next trip from my wife!

traveling as a family

Define Your Priorities

From the start of our marriage, travel and sharing experiences have been important to my wife and I. We both agreed that travel was one of the most important things we could spend our money on.

Being clear on this priority meant that we drove cheaper cars, took on side jobs, and sold things on eBay in order to save more money for travel. It is much easier to forgo little luxuries if it gets you something that is more important to you.

This mindset helped us to be purposeful with our money choices. Partying all weekend and dropping money on football packages were less important to us than traveling, so it was easy to cut our spending in those areas.

Saving money shouldn’t be about eliminating everything from your life; it is about spending money on things that make you happy.

Reduce Gift-Giving

Another way my wife and I save money is we reduce our gift-giving between us. We have done this from the start of our marriage. We give smaller gifts or gift cards so we can put the money we would’ve spent towards travel. Sometimes we also use the money to give our daughter, Brooke, bigger gifts. We realized that gift-giving was not something that was important to either one of us, so we were happy to reduce it in that area.

Take Shorter Trips

We don’t always go on long or expensive trips. One way that we can afford to travel more is by taking smaller, weekend trips. Elementary schools are out for long weekends all the time for Martin Luther King Day or Labor Day, and we took advantage of that to hit the road for a trip.

We also took advantage of business trips to see some attractions along the way. When took us to New York State, we went to Niagara Falls for a day on that trip. If Kelli or my day jobs took us out of town, we would go as a family and get a mini-trip.

Start an Investment Account

I started an investment account in 1997. It started really small, but over time it has grown. We knew we wanted to save for something big, so we opened an investment account to do so. That money that I invested back in 1997 has grown enough that it paid for our Europe trip with some leftover.

Open Multiple Savings Accounts

We have several different savings accounts to allow us to save for various trips to allow us to start saving in advance. We started saving for our first cruise 18 months in advance and set aside separate savings account for the trip. Every payday, we would transfer money into the account to spread the cost over several months. We calculated the total cost of the trip plus tips and gratuities so we had the money ready to go when we booked.

Now we have several different accounts for the various trips we are saving for, and money is automatically transferred on payday. The automatic transfers mean the money can’t be accidentally spent because it is separate.

Do Weekly Challenges

Every January, a weekly savings challenge pops up on social media. Every week you transfer money to a savings account. The first week of the year, you transfer $1, and every week, the amount increases. So, the second week it is $2, the third week it is $3. Over the course of a year, that adds up to $1387. That easily pays for a nice trip.

Our family does this challenge every year. One year, we even doubled it so that both Kelli and I were doing the weekly challenge. We had $2,774 at the end of the year. It’s great to have the money sitting there, ready to go for bucket list trips.

Sign Up for Discount Clubs and Reward Points

We have credit cards that give reward points we can put towards our trips. For example, we have a credit card that gives us Disney Dollars to spend on our Disney Trips, and we get airline miles with our American Express. If you are disciplined with your credit card, then you can reap amazing travel benefits.

We also look for opportunities to get annual passes or value passes to attractions that we visit regularly. Because we visit Disney often, it made sense to get annual Disney passes. We pay once for the Disney tickets and only have to pay for hotel rooms on subsequent trips. One year we went 8 times because we were able to go spontaneously on weekends and holidays. There are plenty of cheap hotel rooms in Orlando, so the trips cost us next to nothing.

south carolina trips

Explore Your Local Area

We have taken some fantastic trips, but some of our favorite memories come from exploring our local area. Every year we enjoy the Ag and Art Tour here in South Carolina. In June, the farms in each county open to the public to give demonstrations and product tastings. They also invite artisans from around the county to sell their products on the farm. We have enjoyed visiting different counties in our state and seeing how farms operate.

During the pandemic, we were missing travel, so one weekend, we made a list of historical markers and drove around for the whole day visiting each of the spots. Another great way to explore the local area is to visit all of the festivals in small towns. The towns come to life with events and entertainment. Your trips don’t need to require a lot of time or travel; you can explore your local area.




Last Updated on February 16, 2024 by Paul G

About Paul G

Paul G is the founder, who wears many hats as a business coach, photographer, and collector of quirky shirts. Paul started in 1996 while pursuing his graduate degree. With a passion for travel, he and his family hav  traveled the world, capturing unforgettable memories and photos. When he's not coaching or clicking, he's indulging in the magic of Disney.

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