There is something thrilling about dropping everything for a few days and escaping. Sometimes spontaneous trips are the best trips. As with everything though, these last-minute adventures typically come at a cost. Now I know what some of you are thinking. “But sometimes you can get great last-minute deals!” That’s true & last-minute deals can be fantastic, but more often than not, there will be some aspect of your trip that will be more expensive because you waited until the last minute. For example, maybe you got a super cheap cruise last minute, but then your airfare was super expensive. Or maybe you got a great deal on airfare, but hotels are limited due to the short notice, so their prices are higher. Plus, everything has to be paid for upfront. When you wait to book last minute, you have to be prepared to pay for everything at once. Most people’s budgets need a bit more advance notice to be able to accommodate a trip. Fortunately, quite a few aspects of the travel industry allow for payment to be made over time.
As outlined in our blog post, “Help Us, Help You,” the first thing anyone should do before making travel plans is to decide on a budget. I feel this is true for any kind of trip, whether it be spontaneous or planned well in advance. The world is amazing, but you’ll enjoy it more if you don’t have a mountain of debt to come home to. Budgeting & planning in advance can give you the flexibility to save up & pay for your trip over time so you don’t accrue unnecessary debt due to your travels.
Once you have determined your budget, I recommend working with a Travel Agent to help plan your trip. This is for a few reasons (see our blog post “Why Use a Travel Agent”), but a few of the most notable reasons is their ability to help you stay within your budget & to bundle the various pieces to your travel together into a package. Though not the only way to pay for a trip over time, having your travel agent put together a package for you will often give you more flexibility in terms of when you can pay.
For example, let’s say you’re traveling to the Disneyland or Walt Disney World Resort. If you were to buy a hotel or condo off Disney property & bought your theme park tickets separately, you would have to pay outright for those theme park tickets and maybe your lodgings too. If you haven’t been to a Disney park recently, tickets are a large bulk of the cost for that type of vacation and if you buy them separately, they have to be paid in full up-front & they are non-refundable. However, if you plan in advance & bundle your package to include both hotel & tickets on property or at a Good Neighbor hotel, then you could simply pay $200 down when you book & then the rest isn’t due until 30 days before you travel. Up until that 30-days before, you can change or cancel your reservation at no cost to you. This allows you much more freedom than if you purchased them separately. Additionally, as a package you are more than welcome to make partial payments over time, or if you’d rather keep your money accruing in the bank, you can wait until that due date 30 days before to make your final payment. This allows you significantly more time to save your money & spread out the cost of your vacation over several months.
Much like stand-alone tickets, airfare is also notorious for having to be paid for up-front & it is most often non-refundable. If you plan your trip in advance, it allows for large required purchases like airfare to not be such a burden. Maybe you’ve booked your hotel/tickets a year in advance, and have been saving up or making payments over time, but you wait to purchase airfare until three or four months in advance of your trip. Being able to spread out the payments for the other aspects of your package allow you to be able to pay for that airfare when it comes up without any budgetary constraints.
What you may not realize is that occasionally, your travel agent can package your airfare in with other aspects of your trip. This means that your airfare would follow the same rules as your package does. For example, if you were to book a Disney Cruise, you would be required to put 20% down up front & final payment is due 90-120 days before you travel. If you chose to book airfare as a package with your cruise & you select a flexible fare, that airfare gets bundled into your cruise package price as a whole. You would simply pay the 20% of the package price & then pay the remainder when final payment is due or in partial payments over time. Again, allowing for better budgeting in advance.
Besides being able to spread out paying for your trip, booking in advance will most often get you the best deal. There are last-minute deals that are worthwhile, but as previously mentioned, you’ll typically get hit with a larger than average bill in some other aspect of your trip. In general, the longer you wait to book, the more you will pay. For example, Disney is notorious for increasing their ticket prices in either late January or early February every year, but sometimes they do it multiple times per year. If you plan in advance, your ticket prices, or cruise fare, or nightly hotel price, gets locked in, ultimately saving you money than if you waited to book your trip last minute. Plus! If you use a travel agent & a deal does come up, they can often get it applied to your existing reservation. Just one more reason to use them!
Overall, making a budget, planning in advance, & taking advantage of what a travel agent can offer can really help you to spread the cost of you trip out over time. This can make a big difference to your everyday finances so that your trip really is a vacation & not a means to more debt. If you’re feeling unsure, ask your travel agent for help! They want to make sure you stay within your budget & have the best time possible. Paying over time can alleviate a lot of stress on you & your budget, so recognize it is an option. Plan in advance & take advantage!
We would be happy to help you along your way. Please visit our website to request a quote: http://woodbreyfamilytravel.com/getaquote.php
Deciding who to travel with can make the difference between a great trip & an, um…okay trip. There are a few people we have traveled with in the past that we will never travel with again. We are lucky that we still have decent relationships with those people in general, but there is no way we will be traveling with them again. Nope, never. However, what do you do when grandma decides to pay for everyone to go to Disneyland? Or one of your best friends puts together a girl’s weekend? What do you do even in smaller groups of people you like and choose to travel with, but who all have their own opinions?
While traveling is always a choice, sometimes we are put into situations where we feel an obligation to go, but you know it’s not going to be ideal with the group of people you’re going with. It could be because you don’t get along, it could be because one person can’t ever get out of bed on time, or it could be there are just so many of you, moving everyone takes forever. So how do you navigate these situations & still have a great vacation, plus make sure your relationships are still intact when you come home? It’s a hard question whose answer is as unique as the groups traveling together. However, in my experience, I’ve recognized a few helpful tips to help navigating traveling with a group.
First, set expectations beforehand. Whatever the expectations are, make sure people know in advance. Everyone has some idea in their head about how they would like their vacation to look and when you’re traveling with a group, I can almost guarantee that differing ideas are the norm, not the exception. If those ideas are not acknowledged in advance, it can lead to hard feelings very quickly while on the trip itself. There is nothing worse than showing up and thinking things are going to go one way just to have someone tell you your ideas are completely wrong & things will be done the complete opposite way. Not setting expectations beforehand is just asking for people to be offended which sets a dark tone for the trip from the beginning.
To set those expectations, I recommend meeting together beforehand (whether in person or video chat). Do not just text or email, but actually get together and talk. Body language & tone of voice are very telling. Maybe over text I can fool you into thinking I’d love to go to that famous sushi restaurant because I’m afraid to tell you no, but when you look in my face, and can tell I’m uncomfortable when we are actually talking about it, maybe I can find my courage to admit that I hate seafood. You may still choose to go to that famous sushi restaurant, but at least I can go find something that I like better, and it’s no surprise to you, keeping us both happy. Legitimately talking with each other allows everyone to voice what their vision for the trip is and knowing beforehand what to expect from the others in your group, can save a lot of hurt feelings & arguments later. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say everyone will agree (more on how to navigate that next), but at least you’ve all had the chance to get an idea of what the other people you’re traveling with are thinking. Please remember to keep it civil! This discussion will set the tone for the entire vacation. The idea isn’t to convert everyone to your way of thinking, it’s to help everyone get an idea of what to expect from each other. Different ideas are a good thing, so be open to what others have to say and don’t get offended if it doesn’t match what you want. You never know when someone will have the one great idea that makes the trip.
Okay, you’ve gotten together to set expectations. What specifically do you talk about? Besides the obvious logistics of a trip (hotel, transportation, etc.), I believe it’s important to somewhat establish what your daily routine will look like while on vacation. The best piece of advice I can give a group traveling together is to recognize from the beginning that YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING TOGETHER. One more time for the people not paying attention: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING TOGETHER. You heard me. You do not have to spend every waking moment together. This is probably the biggest mistake I see groups traveling together make. They feel like if the trip is with everyone, they have to spend the entire trip together. To that I say, what about your sister who has to stop in every gift shop? What about Grandpa who has to have a full sit-down breakfast every day? What about your cousin who has two kids under the age of five who need a nap & to go to bed early? What about YOU and what you want? Every individual has their own needs & wants that may not exactly match up with each other. That’s OKAY! Stop trying to force everyone to do the same thing! Instead, do what makes you happy. It’s vacation! You’re supposed to escape regular life for a bit, relax, experience someplace new & have a great time. Sometimes, trying to move an entire group along is just painful and not fun for anyone, so do not force people to do everything together. If it is important to spend at least a little bit of time together (which is reasonable since you did go on vacation with each other), I have a few suggestions.
Designate one activity per day as something you will do together. For example, maybe everyone gets together for dinner. It gives you the chance to spend your day how you choose, your sister goes shopping, Grandpa takes a long breakfast, you visit the museum you’ve been dying to, but then you all make a point to come back together to share experiences & enjoy each other’s company. You set a time & place & the expectation that everyone will be there. This is an easy way to give people the freedom they need, but also to have time together in a pleasant circumstance.
If you need or want more time together than one activity per day, then I suggest doing your research beforehand about what is available to do in your destination (see our blog post “Planning Never Hurt Anyone”). Once you have a good idea, let each person or family unit pick ONE thing they absolutely have to do & make sure everyone gets the chance to do their one thing. This helps everyone to feel important & satisfied. This is good advice for even small groups traveling together & my husband and I often do it with my parents & our friends. For example, when we went to London with my parents, we each picked one thing we had to do. I wanted to visit the Tower of London, my mom wanted to take an excursion out to Stonehenge, my dad wanted to see The Phantom of the Opera. They are all very different things, but we all enjoyed them & everyone felt like they had contributed to what ended up being one of our favorite trips ever. Oftentimes, what one person wants to do will overlap with the wants of someone else, so even if you only get to pick one thing, often you get to do lots of awesome stuff and maybe even a few great things you wouldn’t have found on your own.
The key to this plan though, is to make sure you don’t whine & complain when it’s not your turn. If your sister chose to go shopping as her one thing, make the most of that time with her doing what she loves. If Grandpa chose breakfast at a famous local restaurant, enjoy the experience & time with him. This will allow you to see & do things you may not have elected to do yourself, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t worth doing. Everyone is empowered to make a choice & everyone supports each other in that choice. However, if you can’t be a good sport about it, don’t do this. Go back to picking one thing each day that the group does together, and just do what makes you happy the rest of the time.
Traveling with a group can be a difficult experience, but it can also be very rewarding as you build positive relationships and create new memories together in a new place. Open the lines of communication with everyone early & recognize it’s okay if you don’t do everything together. In fact, it’s often a better idea than trying force everyone to spend every minute together. If you need help, we are always here. We would be happy to help you navigate traveling with a group. It is a different experience for sure! Visit our website to get started: http://woodbreyfamilytravel.com/getaquote.php
In early 2020, Disney Cruise Line will offer families even more ways to explore the world together with the addition of a brand-new home port in New Orleans, Louisiana and a highly anticipated return to the Hawaiian Islands. Disney Cruise Line will also return to Puerto Rico for a limited time and continue guest-favorite itineraries to tropical destinations from Florida and California.
First-time Home Port in New Orleans
In 2020, the Disney Wonder will embark on a variety of Caribbean and Bahamian cruises from New Orleans – the first time Disney Cruise Line will have a home port in Louisiana. Not only will this provide families from the region with the magic of having a Disney ship in their own backyard, but it will also draw families from farther away to discover this incredible city before they set sail.
Before or after their Disney cruise, Guests can venture into the city to savor the distinct flavors of famous New Orleans cuisine, visit family-friendly museums and parks, and revel in the sweet melodies of world-renowned jazz music. Travelers will delight in the Southern charm of this new home port, and Disney fans will find magic around every corner as they experience the iconic sights and sounds that inspired the beloved animated film “The Princess and the Frog.”
The Disney Wonder will embark on six cruises during this limited-time season from New Orleans, including four-, six- and seven-night Western Caribbean sailings; a seven-night Bahamian cruise; and a 14-night Panama Canal voyage, departing February 7 through March 6.
Long-Awaited Return to Hawaii
After a five-year hiatus, the Disney Wonder will return to Hawaii in early 2020 for two special cruises: a nine-night voyage to Honolulu from Vancouver, Canada, on April 29, and a 10-night sailing back to Vancouver on May 8.
During these dream vacations, guests will discover the breathtaking beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, including the famous beaches of Waikiki on Oahu; the views from high atop the summit of Haleakala Crater on Maui; the lush tropical gardens and waterfalls of Kauai; and the diverse natural wonders of Hawaii Island.
Popular Itineraries from Puerto Rico and California
The Disney Wonder continues its standout season with returns to popular home ports on both coasts. First, the ship sets sail for the Southern Caribbean during two seven-night voyages departing January 19 and 26 from San Juan, Puerto Rico, followed by a five-night Bahamian cruise. Then beginning on March 20, the ship embarks on seven sailings to Baja and the Mexican Riviera, ranging in length from two to seven nights, from San Diego, California.
Unforgettable Tropical Getaways from Florida
Disney Cruise Line will have three ships sailing to the Bahamas and Caribbean from Florida in early 2020, and every cruise includes a day of fun in the sun on Disney’s private Bahamian island reserved exclusively for Disney Cruise Line guests, Castaway Cay.
- From Miami, the Disney Magic will sail three-, four- and five-night Bahamian cruises and five-night Western Caribbean cruises.
- From Port Canaveral, the Disney Fantasy will sail seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, plus two special sailings at six- and eight-nights each.
- From Port Canaveral, the Disney Dream will sail three- and four-night Bahamian cruises to Nassau and Castaway Cay.
With a variety of options from Florida, Guests can choose the vacation that provides something for everyone in the family, combining the adventure and relaxation of tropical destinations, the ease and indulgence of an ocean cruise, and the world-class entertainment and service of a Disney vacation.
When To Book Early 2020 Itineraries
Platinum, Gold or Silver Castaway Club members, can take advantage of the opportunity to book early 2020 itineraries before they go on sale to the general public on October 4, 2018. Book either online or by phone during the designated booking window.
- October 1, 2018: Platinum Members
- October 2, 2018: Platinum and Gold Members
- October 3, 2018: Platinum, Gold and Silver Members
- October 4, 2018: all Guests
Please contact us, for more information or to book one of these amazing Disney Cruise vacations!
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Disneyland has some exciting news to share with everyone about continuing expansion and growth of the Disneyland® Resort. For the first time in almost two decades, Disneyland will open a new Four Diamond hotel! Set to open in 2021, this hotel will transform the west end of the Downtown Disney® District and anchor a new gateway to the Disneyland Resort.
The stunning 700-room hotel will feature a sophisticated design and be a game-changer for Anaheim, creating a dynamic dining, entertainment and hotel experience for resort visitors and local residents. Extensive landscaping and water elements will create a resort oasis, showcasing nature on every level of the hotel. The hotel’s location embraces the iconic Disneyland Monorail with a dedicated platform inside the hotel for direct transport into Disneyland Park.
Guest rooms, public spaces and gardens will provide views of the Downtown Disney District. In addition, an upper-level restaurant and lounge will give guests a view of the popular Disneyland Park fireworks.
The ground level of the hotel will include shops and restaurants opening onto an expansive landscaped plaza complete with playful water features, creating a gathering place for guests and visitors. The new hotel also connects all four Hotels of the Disneyland Resort through lush gardens and beautifully landscaped walkways, transforming the gateway on the west side and creating a welcoming entry for guests.
Construction is scheduled to start in summer 2018, with a grand opening slated for 2021.
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As part of the multi-year expansion of the Disneyland® Resort, Disney is upgrading, improving and adding new parking and transportation enhancements that have been long envisioned for the resort. The centerpiece of this plan is an all-new parking structure to be built on the current Pinocchio surface parking lot next to Mickey & Friends.
This new 6,500-space structure is designed to dramatically improve parking and traffic flow throughout the resort. It is expected to significantly speed up guest arrival by providing a 60 percent increase in the number of access lanes and adding additional parking capacity on the west side of the resort.
The additional parking capacity and access lanes will streamline vehicle arrivals on the west side of the resort and eliminate backups onto city streets. In addition, the tram boarding area will be reconfigured to enhance the transportation experience for guests parking at both the new structure and Mickey & Friends.
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This summer, when guests head on down the highway to Disney California Adventure® Park at Disneyland® Resort, they’ll be able to meet one of the newest stars from Disney·Pixar’s “Cars 3,” Cruz Ramirez. Cruz has joined Lightning McQueen and Mater in Cars Land. She’ll also be taking a summer road trip down to the Sunshine State, stopping in on Pixar Place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios® at Walt Disney World® Resort.
In Disney·Pixar’s “Cars 3,” Cruz Ramirez is a top-notch technician at the Rusteze Racing Center where she’s assigned to train the team’s talented rookies. Cruz always had racing dreams of her own, but it isn’t until she meets Lightning McQueen that she realizes her passion to compete is still there. Now she’ll finally get the chance to see if she’s got what it takes to win.
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Encounter the Guardians of the Galaxy Starting May 27 During Summer of Heroes at Disney California Adventure Park
Last weekend, “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2” blasted its way to the top of the box office charts, and now the cosmic heroes are getting ready to land at Disney California Adventure® Park at Disneyland® Resort. The action kicks off in a big way May 27, 2017 with the opening of the all-new Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! and the launch of Summer of Heroes which includes Super Hero fun for everyone!
During “Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance Off!” Star-Lord and Gamora return to the Collector’s Fortress to retrieve a special artifact … Star-Lord’s precious boom box. Looking to avoid discovery, they ignite a lively party vibe, enlisting everyone gathered around to help out and show off favorite dance moves in a rockin’ Dance Off.
And for the first time, you can encounter the one-and-only Groot. He arrives on the scene just as the Dance Off is wrapping up, but is happy to stay for a while and visit with everyone as Star-Lord and Gamora make their escape.
Summer of Heroes also brings more excitement across Hollywood Land, including the Avengers Training Initiative featuring Black Widow and Hawkeye and heroic encounters with Black Widow, Captain America and your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. This summer is going to be epic!
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Today Disney is excited to share that Pandora – The World of Avatar will open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Park at Walt Disney World® Resort on May 27, 2017.
This new land will transport guests to the visually stunning world of Pandora. Here, they will wonder at floating mountains and bioluminescent plants, and can join the Na’vi on two excursions that take adventure to the next level.
First, the family friendly Na’vi River Journey will send guests through a bioluminescent rainforest. Their journey will end in an unforgettable encounter with a Na’vi Shaman, a figure who has a deep connection to the life force of Pandora. And second, Avatar Flight of Passage will offer guests the jaw-dropping experience of exploring the world of Pandora atop a Banshee.
Guests will also be able to dine at Satu’li Canteen, grab a drink at Pongu Pongu or shop for Na’vi cultural items, toys, science kits, and more at Windtraders.
Also, Disney is excited to announce that their new Star Wars-themed lands at Disneyland® Park in California and Disney’s Hollywood Studios® in Florida will be opening in 2019!
The Star Wars-themed lands are the largest-ever, single-themed land expansions at Disneyland® and Walt Disney World® Resorts. At each location, guests will be transported to a never-before-seen planet – a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space – where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life. Here’s a glimpse at one of the signature attractions which lets guests take the controls of the Millennium Falcon!
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