Budget Florida Trip

kymom99

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 24, 2008
Hello everyone! Last year I planned a trip for my family to Vegas, Grand Canyon, and Zion. I created a thread to share some of the ways I saved money and some unexpected costs that came up. It ended up being a fun discussion and I was able to share some ideas for others. Tomorrow we leave for Florida for a beach trip with a day at Magic Kingdom. I thought I would do the same type of thread to share my details for this trip. I always try to make every vacation as budget friendly as possible.

I am a retired teacher who has returned to work part time. I planned this vacation before the job came along and a condition of me accepting the job was that I be able to take off for my trips. (I have a friends trip planned for march.) My state is so desperate for teachers, it was no problem getting this approved.

There will be 3 of us on this trip. My son is in college and gets a 4 day weekend for a fall break. I found a good deal on a condo that sits right on the beach in Madeira Beach called Madeira Vista Condos. These are 2 bedroom, privately owned units with all the amenities. They have a fall offer of $750 per week. With taxes and cleaning fees I paid about $950. We will be driving down over 2 days so that we have half of Saturday to enjoy the beach. We will stop in Cordele, GA at Best Western Colonial Inn Friday evening. I found this hotel on TripAdvisor. It gets good reviews and is half the cost of the Hampton Inn nearby. Check in at Madeira Vista is normally 4:00 but the manager told me the unit we reserved was not being used this week so it will be ready after 12:00. Nice to have a little extra time on Saturday to settle in and hit Publix! I have reserved a pair of beach chairs from a beach service company. A little pricy at $125 for 6 days but pretty much a necessity for my husband and me.

On Sunday my son and I will go to Magic Kingdom! I haven't been since 2010, so I am so excited! The drive is about 90 minutes. My husband will stay at the condo because he wasn't excited about the drive, the cost, and the crowds. I bought the tickets from the Disney website. Since they are one day tickets there were no discounts. I believe they were $125 each for this particular date. This is my first time using MDE and the app. So far I have had no problems. We will have to pay for parking. One of the reasons I wanted to fit in a little Disney is because I want to get a feel for the changes that have been put in place since last time we were there. I want to plan a longer trip with some more family sometime in the near future. I think this mini visit will prepare me for planning another trip.

So far things have gone great from a planning perspective. I started off with FP+ for POC, BTMRR, and Space at 30 days out. I was able to change the POC to SDMT a few days later. I am super excited that we will get to ride 3 awesome rides with little wait! Then tonight, out of the blue I decided to look at dining availability. I really had no intention of making any dining reservations, but just thought I would check it out and see how that worked with the app. Can you believe there was an opening for 1:05 at BOG?? What are the chances I would have picked that time to look? Well, that actually doesn't help the budget, but whatever. I've never even seen the new fantasy land so how could I pass this up?

So briefly, Monday we will hang out at the beach and go to John's pass for the evening and a nice dinner out.

Tuesday my son flies home alone so that he can get back to school. One way flight booked using points. Cost was $5. Family member will pick him up at the airport.

I don't have firm plans the rest of the week but will look for free things to do. Saturday we leave and plan to stop in Savannah for the day, staying in another best western north of the city before heading home on Sunday. I had not stayed in a best western for a while but I'm interested to see what it takes to earn a free night.

I will update as things progress to give more firm costs and savings that I may find.
 

kymom99

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 24, 2008
We took 12 hours to make a 9 hour drive. Traffic was insane today. Absolutely white knuckle. We spent $75 on food plus about $10 on road snacks. Car is getting good gas mileage. So that’s a plus.

The best western colonial inn in Cordele is a winner. It’s one of those with outside doors but we are in the second floor and I have no problem with it. The place is clean and the price was right. $72 plus tax for 2 queen beds plus breakfast in the morning.

Hoping for better driving tomorrow with it being Saturday.
 
  • kymom99

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 24, 2008
    Today’s drive was so much better. Traffic was light except going through downtown Tampa. Our condo is very nice. We went to Publix and spent $100. My husband fussed at me for buying boars head meat. This from the man who has no spending inhibitions. He was distressed over the prices of the groceries but I had to keep reminding him we aren’t at home. And on vacation I like to buy good stuff for a treat. Still cheaper than eating every meal out. We had a free breakfast at the hotel this morning and ate a rotisserie chicken with some simply potatoes for early dinner. We just finished up with some tortilla chips with cheese melted on them.

    Tomorrow morning my son and I leave early for magic kingdom! Can’t wait!
     

    Disneyfan754321

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 19, 2019
    I think its awesome that your son wants to go to disney with you, i think its every parents dream that there kid willingly spends the day with them one on one. Have lots of fun soak up that sun here comes winter.
     

    kymom99

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 24, 2008
    I think its awesome that your son wants to go to disney with you, i think its every parents dream that there kid willingly spends the day with them one on one. Have lots of fun soak up that sun here comes winter.
    That’s the truth! He’s 20 years old! I’m sure lucky.

    I also noticed several more BOG openings this evening. I guess people are changing plans and dropping reservations. I’m hoping to move SDMT to be an earlier time.

    On Tuesday we have to take our son to the Tampa airport to catch his flight home. I’m a little nervous about that because of the time issue. I’ve never been to the Tampa airport. We are going to park and go in with him to be sure he finds where he needs to go. The property maintenance man here told us to allow ourselves an hour to get there. I found there have short term parking literally on top of the terminal. I hope they have good signage so we can find it.
     

    Disneyfan754321

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 19, 2019
    That’s the truth! He’s 20 years old! I’m sure lucky.

    I also noticed several more BOG openings this evening. I guess people are changing plans and dropping reservations. I’m hoping to move SDMT to be an earlier time.

    On Tuesday we have to take our son to the Tampa airport to catch his flight home. I’m a little nervous about that because of the time issue. I’ve never been to the Tampa airport. We are going to park and go in with him to be sure he finds where he needs to go. The property maintenance man here told us to allow ourselves an hour to get there. I found there have short term parking literally on top of the terminal. I hope they have good signage so we can find it.
    Tampa great i thought it was so much easier than orlando.
    I dont know what time his flight is but the florida aquarium is nice the kids loved seeing winter.
     
  • Eeyore daily

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2019
    Publix is ridiculously over priced so I’m not surprised your husband was annoyed at that. I don’t blame him. Tampa airport is simply to maneuver but getting there can be a pain.
     

    pearlieq

    <font color=green>They can sit & spin<br><font col
    Joined
    Aug 3, 2004
    Short term parking at the Tampa airport is very clearly marked in the main garage at the terminal. It's free for the first hour and $2.00 for the hour after that. There will be signs to direct you to the Red or Blue side based on what airline you're flying, but don't stress about it. They are literally just on opposite sides of the same open terminal building so you can cross freely and quickly between them.

    Once parked you just take the elevator down to 3 if he already has his boarding pass or level 2 if he needs to go to the counter/check bags. You'll be able to go with him up until the shuttles to the airsides, which will have security and his boarding gate. Check his gate number to find the right shuttle--they are lettered A - F, so you'd reach Gate C36 at the C shuttle.

    A hour sounds about right for midday coming from Mad Beach. Once you're on 275 it's a completely straight shot--you'll exit directly into the airport.

    Thanks for the info about the condos! Sounds like a great find!
     


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