Traveling anywhere with kids can be stressful. Traveling to Walt Disney World on a SURPRISE TRIP can be a crazy all on it's own! Even though I consider myself a seasoned traveler, I still face hic-ups along the way - it's all a learning experience.
For this particular trip, we did something we had never done before, we used an OFFICIAL DISNEY TRAVEL AGENT to book a big chunk of our trip. It was seriously a god-send because scouring over Disney sites, trying to figure out the best hotel and food package was a mess.. Jessica, our agent was able to offer us 3 separate packages within 30 minutes and did NOT charge us a dime to do it! Run, go book through her - NOW!
Being that you simply cannot hop on your favorite elephant and soar on over to WDW, either a flight or planned road trip is necessary if you do not dwell within the panhandle. Being that we wanted to make the very most of our trip, we decided to fly + we honestly couldn't have really drove (with hotel stops back and forth along the way) for what we paid to fly.
We did choose to fly out of a larger airport hub; Dallas\Fort Worth and drove the 2.5 hours over the day before, booked a hotel with some saved Hilton points + enjoyed a little pre-vacation "mom, where are we going?" evening. The morning we told our kids, they wore some of our favorite handmade's (more info on those here + here).
We ended up using Spirit, and I know, we hear TONS of horrible things about them - nothing is free, you have to pay to choose to have seats next to the people in your party, you have to pay for each luggage piece, you have to pay for even a carry-on (unless it's backpack size or smaller, it's considered a personal item).
So I joined their fare club, which saved me serious cash.. it was around $60 bucks to subscribe, but it overall saved me $120. So it was totally worth it - I just need to remember to go cancel that soon ;)
I'm a SERIOUS planner with it comes to trips, I pack everything the week before + make our family live in their non-travel clothes lol. I have a "system" I use for the kids clothing that has NEVER failed me.
I pack an entire outfit in a gallon bag for each kid (when their shoes get to big you have to pull them out). But the bag includes; top,bottom, underwear, hair bow, accessory + shoes. Then, each morning I hand them a bag and they put their PJ's into the bag. It's a fool proof system, I promise and you're never left scrambling through your suitcase looking for someones missing item in a pinch.
|these shoes + souveniers were NOT from this trip|
We even snuck in all our pre-bought souvenirs in our suitcases so that we could surprise the kids with them during the trip and not get suckered into a $30 stuffed Mickey.
Honestly the only money we spent the entire trip was on "tips". When you sit down at a restaurant, regardless if you're using the Disney Dining Plan (read my tips on that HERE), you need to be prepared to tip in cash. So, we brought $100 with us and tipped with it the whole week. I mean can you imagine pre-paying and traveling to Disney and only essentially spending $100 while you're there?
Prior to our trip, I purchased a used double stroller off a mom site. Truth-be-told, I have a double jogger, but I didn't want to be that mom with the "wide load coming through" or being stuck between doorways during our trip. It was a total steal, I think we paid $55 and sold it for more the week we returned.. Yes.. we "made" money off a stroller we used for a week.. I'm always saving ;)
I'm fully aware our 7 year old is "too big" for a stroller, but it had this sit or stand option, that she could take a break on in pure exhaustion on a long day and it had great storage.. it was a pain in the ass to fold up though.. won't make that mistake again purchasing that brand!
Where did we eat the day of travel you ask?
One of the benefits of being a military family, we took advantage of the USO located inside the airport. Not all have them, but most big hubs do, we took this into consideration when deciding to drive the few hours away for our flight..
They're packed with la-z boys, books, food, snacks + movies and toys to entertain military personnel and their families during travel. I actually felt like we were a part of some secret society going into this room I've never noticed before at any airport!
We absolutely saved money both to and from WDW having breakfast/lunch at the USO. I would highly recommend any military families visit them during your travel!
Because we didn't want to have "those kids" on the plane that cried or ultimately had us removed, I purchased $9 earphones for them, and they carried them in their own mini backpacks through security. They each had a device jam packed with - you guessed it - Disney movies to entertain them for the duration of our flight and travel to WDW.
Seriously, what did we do before we all had devices to occupy us on flights? oh.. well we probably ate the food they used to give out - ha!
|I spy the ocean!|
One of the coolest features when staying on the resort property is the Magical Express System. The week before you depart a package comes with special luggage tags for your checked bags. When you deboard the plane you don't bother with your luggage (remember to keep your magic bands in your carry-on, you'll need those to get on the Magic Express Bus). You go straight to your resort + your luggage magically arrives 2-3 hours later to your room.. and you reverse the process on departure at the end of your trip. It really is amazing to not have to handle all your luggage when you get to Orlando.. it makes hopping on over to Disney that much easier.
For more info on booking your own Disney World Vacation, feel free to email our awesome travel agent here: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more tips on how to get the most out of your WDW Trip visit my "All Things Disney" post!